Dr. Lesley Flynt, who specializes in nuclear medicine, is on assignment for Consilium at a Veterans Affairs facility in Massachusetts. As a nuclear medicine physician, Dr. Flynt captures images of patients’ organs—which otherwise would be difficult or impossible to obtain—by performing imaging procedures that incorporate small amounts of radioactive material. Using the information she gathers from these images, Dr. Flynt is able to determine which radiopharmaceutical treatments are best for each patient based upon their individual genetic makeup and the stage of their presenting disease.
We caught up with Dr. Flynt to learn more about her journey to becoming a physician, her work with Veterans Affairs, and her personal experience with locum tenens.
On Her Path to Nuclear Medicine
Why did you become a physician?
I wanted to do something meaningful, and I thought that working as a physician was one of the most meaningful things I could do with my life. I always considered myself more of a scientist, but the more I delved into science, the more I realized that I could best put my skills and interests to use by becoming a doctor.
What made you decide to go into nuclear medicine?
Molecular Biology is just my “thing”—seriously! It just does it for me: I could talk about cell signaling and DNA replication for days. I originally considered specializing in molecular pathology or molecular imaging (which encompasses nuclear medicine), but I sort of just fell into imaging.
My “aha” moment was during my first scan using imaging agents that could incorporate themselves into DNA. I realized I was actually looking at the DNA of a person in the scanner in front of me; it absolutely blew my mind. I knew then that I had found my place.
What does a “day in your life” look like?
The great thing about nuclear medicine is that no two days are the same. Some days I am in the reading room going through studies all day long, some I set aside to determine which studies and treatments are best for each patient, and others I see patients, whom I treat with various radioactive therapies. And of course, some days I do a little bit of everything. Whenever I have residents, I try to throw something in the mix that they can learn from, just like my mentors did for me back when I was a resident.
What is your “why,” what keeps you going on hard days?
The road to becoming a physician is long, hard, and tumultuous, but once you have the opportunity to really make a difference in the life of another person, you realize that that road was a privilege. I feel that privilege daily when patients trust in me to be responsible for their care. I cannot think of any career more fulfilling than being a physician.
On Working with Veterans Affairs
What piqued your interest in working with veterans?
Veterans sacrificed so that people like me would have the freedom to become physicians, musicians, florists, teachers, or anything else they desire. Service members keep us safe, they keep us free, and they deserve the best care possible. Nuclear medicine gives me the unique opportunity to provide cutting-edge imaging techniques and treatments, and if anyone deserves that, I believe it is these women and men.
Recent news articles have brought up the long timeline between being accepted by the VA and the actual date a permanent physician can start work. What was the credentialing timeline like in your experience?
I am pretty accustomed to things not always going smoothly, so when I was hired in early June, I immediately got my paperwork together, submitted all required materials, and received my PIV badge by August, which was in plenty of time for my October start date. It helped that Consilium held my hand throughout the process, so to speak. I found out later that there were several tasks I could have completed myself, but Consilium had already handled all the footwork for me. If I ever had a question that my account manager couldn’t answer right then, she either found out from someone who knew or connected me with someone who could get me the information I needed.
On the Locum Tenens Experience
What were some of your concerns before starting your first assignment?
I worried that everything would somehow fall apart. I am very wary about trusting anything if I have not actually had first-hand experience.
What do you wish you had known before you started working locums?
I wish I had known how smoothly the whole process would go—I would have tried it long before I did!
What was your perception of locum tenens prior to working in the industry?
To be honest, I assumed locums companies just hired you and sent you off on your mission, and that physicians would really only hear from the company when the contract was up. I have learned during my own experience with Consilium that I could not have been more wrong about that.
What led to your decision to work locum tenens?
As a new physician I did not yet know in which sector of medicine (such as a community hospital, university hospital, or Veterans Affairs facility) I would like to work long-term. Locums gives me the chance to experience them all.
Also, I am always up for an adventure. I love that locums gives me the opportunity to try out different healthcare settings and also focus on being the best physician possible without feeling tied down. With locums, if you like where you are placed you can usually stay, and if you don’t, you can always look forward to the next great adventure!
What are some of the best parts of working locums?
The best part of working locum tenens is the ability to focus on my work without worrying about the logistics of life (e.g. when do I get to the hospital, where will I be living, how do I contact this person, how do I get credentialed and obtain permits, how do I get my electricity turned on, etc.). Locums just magically handles all of that for me.
What is one piece of advice you would give to prospective locum tenens providers?
Locums work is really great because you can work a few months somewhere and if you like it, you just stay. If not, you don’t have to stay on after the end of your contract. Know that if desired, you can move on: no questions asked and no hard feelings.
What is one thing you wish permanent medical providers knew about locum providers or the locum tenens experience?
Overall, I wish permanent physicians understood the huge variety in experiences you can have with locums work, as well as the positive impact locum tenens can have on both your personal and professional growth.
Is there anything in particular that medical facilities could change or improve to make locums’ lives easier?
Just treat us as though we are permanent employees and involve us in all aspects of patient care. This helps locum physicians become more invested in the process, and in my opinion, improves patient care.
What are some mistakes that locum tenens companies make?
Sometimes, I think recruiters and account managers assume that physicians know more than we really do when it comes to housing, insurance, etc. In actuality, many of us have no idea! If you want to recruit more physicians, just lay it all out on the table for us.
On Working Locum Tenens with Consilium
Why did you choose to work with Consilium?
First, I consulted with colleagues who had worked locums in the past. From there I eventually crossed paths with colleagues who had worked with Consilium and they gave nothing but rave reviews. Even if they didn’t particularly favor the city or facility they were in at the time, not one person could say enough great things about Consilium as a company.
What are some things Consilium does well?
Consilium is unique in that they really listen to what their physicians need and want. I have never felt like I was “bothering” anyone when I made requests. Anything I have brought to the attention of Consilium team members has always been treated as a priority, no matter how tedious of a request it may be.
Is there anything Consilium team members should do or know to make your experience better?
Maybe throw in a sports car? But on a serious note, I have no other wants or needs in addition to what has been provided. I really feel like Consilium covered everything.
How has working with Consilium impacted your life?
Working with Consilium has given me the opportunity to live in a new place and to work in a completely different hospital setting than I was previously accustomed. I did not have the opportunity to work with Veterans Affairs before Consilium, and I am not sure I ever would have otherwise. I would not trade this experience for the world.
Interested in putting your medical expertise to work with Consilium, or in finding locum tenens professionals to provide coverage at your facility? Give us a call at 877-536-4696.