Category Archives: Healthcare Providers

NP Week 2017—Locum Tenens Provider Spotlight on Ade Ogunmokun

November 12-18 is National Nurse Practitioner Week, designated to recognize the contributions of nurse practitioners across the United States. This year, we are highlighting Ade Ogunmokun, one of Consilium’s partnering locum tenens psychiatric nurse practitioners.

Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram and use the hashtag #ThankAnNP to highlight a nurse practitioner who has made a difference in your life.

At the beginning of Ade Ogunmokun’s career, she was working as a certified nursing assistant but was uncertain about her long-term plans. It was the guidance of other nursing professionals at each new step of her career—coupled with a natural curiosity and true empathy for her patients—that eventually led her to earn an associate degree, bachelor’s degree, and finally, her master’s and a license as a psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioner (PNP).

“When I first got into nursing, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do with my career down the road,” Ogunmokun said.  “I started as a nursing assistant, which also is when I was first introduced to the world of long-term inpatient psychiatry. When I met medication aides at work, I was really intrigued by the job so I asked a lot of questions. Soon after that, I decided to go back to school and become a medication aide myself.”

It was through her work as a medication aide, Ogunmokun said, that piqued her interest in medication management. She briefly considered a career in pharmacy, but given her previous experience, she was positive that she was most passionate about psychiatry. She returned to school to complete the training to become an LPN and then an RN, and by then, she said her mind was set on advancing through the profession.

“I ended up moving into a setting that was inpatient but with more temporary stays, so patients were released back into the community in a very short timeframe,” Ogunmokun said. “I really became concerned about how these patients were going to function by themselves back out in society, and I wondered what I could do to better assist people in similar situations.”

While at that facility, Ogunmokun began feeling that while there was much she wanted to do to help her patients, she was limited by the fact that she was not allowed to prescribe medicine. It was then that she began working alongside several psychiatric nurse practitioners.

“I actually had no idea who they were,” Ogunmokun said. “I assumed they were doctors because they could prescribe medicine, but they ended up teaching me a lot about the process and benefits of becoming a nurse practitioner. It really got me thinking once I learned that they too were in the nursing profession—I had been frustrated for a while about barriers to helping my patients as much as I wanted. It became clear to me that I could overcome those obstructions as an NP, so I went back to school yet again.”

Fact: Nurse practitioners can prescribe medicine, including controlled substances, in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

In addition to prescriptive privileges, the NP profession appealed to Ogunmokun because nurse practitioners care for the “whole patient.” Alongside prescribing medicine and dispensing medical advice, NPs focus on the provision of health and wellness education and culturally competent care.

“It was during my first assignment with Consilium that I really began to understand the impact you can have as a nurse practitioner,” Ogunmokun said. “I had never worked in an outpatient setting before, but they gave me the opportunity to try it. It is so gratifying for me to help patients improve to the point that they begin thriving in personal and professional settings.”

Ogunmokun, who has worked with Consilium for three years, recounts the story of a patient she treated on assignment who was going through an incredibly rough patch in his life.

“That gentleman was dealing with all sorts of huge life issues simultaneously,” Ogunmokun said. “He had lost his wife, a number of his other relatives died within the same timeframe, he was completely unable to sleep at night, and he was struggling not to lose his house. It was incredibly rewarding when he returned a month later and I saw that my choice of medications was the right combination for him. He was sleeping better, feeling better overall despite the circumstances, and he was starting to move forward again. That was big for me.”

Ogunmokun, something of a world traveler, chooses to work locum tenens in large part because of the control she can maintain over her schedule.

“I really enjoy traveling, and I want to have the option to, say, visit the United Kingdom for six weeks if I want to,”Ogunmokun said. “In a regular job that’s virtually impossible, but locum tenens makes it so easy, and Consilium truly understands the concept of locums. They aren’t like some agencies that will ask where you’re going or why you need to be off—they really give you the freedom and flexibility to work as you choose.”

In the interest of paying forward some of the wisdom she received as an aspiring NP, Ogunmokun offers guidance to nurse practitioners who are not yet sure what type of work arrangement they should choose.

“If I were to advise an NP who was considering doing locum tenens, I would say to just maintain an open mind and give it a try,” Ogunmokun said. “Locums is a great way to experience new practice settings and you can generally stay for as long as you would like. The biggest thing is that with Consilium, you know you will be taken care of. It makes all the difference to work with someone who is an outspoken advocate for you and your needs—I feel like I have that in Cullen and Shadley, my recruiter and account manager.”

Interested in putting your medical expertise to work with Consilium, or in finding quality medical providers to cover shifts at your facility?

Locum Tenens Provider Spotlight: Success in Medicine Against All Odds

In her work with Consilium, Denise Willis currently sees patients at a correctional facility in Virginia. Throughout her career, she also has provided care in settings that include rural health, family medicine, urgent care, occupational medicine, internal medicine, geriatrics, behavioral health, and pharmacy.

If you were to enumerate the challenges on the path to becoming a pharmacist, academic lecturer, and physician assistant, chances are that list would not include half the obstacles faced by Denise Willis, Consilium physician assistant and poster child for persistence and determination.

“I never thought I would make it this far, to be quite honest,” Willis said. “I always wanted to succeed, and I was willing to do whatever that required, but there were many times it seemed impossible despite my dedication. Sometimes I still can’t believe I made it through.”

Willis, who was raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, said she had been captivated by the study of medicine from the time she was a young girl. Some of her earliest memories consist of walking down to the corner drugstore with her father, where a pharmacist everyone called “Doc” would let her come behind the counter and try pronouncing the names of the medications in stock.

“As a child, I read everything I could get my hands on,” Willis said. “My mother used to laugh at me for it, because it didn’t matter if it was the back of a bottle of detergent—I was going to read it. Afterward, I would write down the names of the ingredients and try to figure out what each one was and what it did.”

Though the earliest years of her childhood were marked by some degree of normalcy, that had changed in a big way by the time she turned 7. Her parents split up and her mother fell very ill, leaving a very young Willis with the responsibility of caring for her younger siblings. When she was 12 years old, her mother succumbed to her drawn-out illness—which turned out to be cancer—and Willis was placed in the foster care system.

“It was difficult, and I do think my childhood experiences have a lot to do with my chosen career path,” Willis said. “I had that innate curiosity and passion for medicine, yes, but I also saw up close what it means to have—or not have—adequate medical care. My youngest brother had a lot of health problems too, and those sorts of experiences just stick with you for the rest of your life.”

Despite her circumstances, Willis—determined to succeed—excelled in school. She completed college and then attended the Temple University School of Pharmacy in Philadelphia, where she was able to follow in the footsteps of “Doc,” who had first sparked her interest in pharmacy all those years ago. Bringing full circle those formative walks down to Doc’s clinic, as a young adult Willis also reconnected with her father, who revealed that Willis had a number of relatives whom she had neither met nor heard of as a child. Willis and her husband—who were already considering a move further south—met the long-lost Virginia branch of her family and soon decided that was exactly where they wanted to be for the foreseeable future.

“It’s crazy thinking about it now, but I truly didn’t have a reliable support system until I got married to my husband,” Willis said. “Having my father back in my life has made such a difference, and it has been just wonderful to suddenly have family by my side.”

Willis moved to Virginia in 1989, and since then has worked as a pharmacist, pharmacy supervisor, in-house department educator, preceptor for pharmacy and pharmacy tech students, and as a lecturer at the junior college and university levels.

“I even had my own pharmacy for a while back in the ‘90s, which had always been a dream of mine,” Willis said. “It only lasted a few years—up until a chain pharmacy opened right across from us—but I am proud that I was able to achieve that goal even if it wasn’t in the cards long-term.”

By the late ‘90s, Willis had decided that she was just not passionate about pharmacy the way she had been before—she wanted the opportunity to better connect with patients and have a direct hand in their care. To best achieve her ideal patient-provider relationship, she set her sights on becoming a physician assistant. She enrolled in the Master of Physician Assistant (MPA) Program at Eastern Virginia Medical School, a program that aligned with her belief in providing inclusive, patient-centered care and fostering strong clinical and community partnerships.

When asked about her most memorable moment as a PA, Willis said there is one patient in particular who she could never forget. He was working as a custodian, and upon their meeting it was visibly clear to her that something was very, very wrong.

“This gentleman had severe, severe jaundice, and it was obvious even with his dark complexion,” Willis said. “His eyes, lips, fingertips, overall hue…all of it was just ‘off.’ I asked him to please, please see a doctor as soon as possible.”

Instead, the man came to see Willis, who he trusted would help him get the care he needed. He said he had seen a physician several months prior who—despite clear lab results—had not provided any answers or assistance. The patient’s gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase (GGT)—a chemical that might normally be around 60 units per liter (U/L)—was measured at more than 2,000 U/L. Lo and behold, further testing soon determined that the man had cancer.

“I could not believe that it took so long for him to receive treatment,” Willis said. “But because he agreed to come in, he lived much longer than he would have otherwise. I actually discovered that one day several years later when he recognized me at a local grocery store and ran up to thank me. He looked just wonderful, and I’ll never forget the stark difference compared to the first time I saw him.”

Given her vast experience in an array of clinical settings, Willis had been familiar with locum tenens for a number of years, even working an agency assignment as a pharmacist at a Minnesota Indian Health Services facility. Despite positive prior experiences in temporary pharmacy assignments, she was initially wary of taking on locum tenens assignments as a physician assistant.

“If I had to give one piece of advice to other providers who are on the fence about doing locums, I would say to just try it,” Willis said. “It’s not a permanent move if you don’t want it to be, so why not? I hesitated at first because I didn’t know what the experience would be like as a PA—I wish I had made this leap much earlier.”

Despite her lifelong love for learning (and resulting tendency to eagerly take on new opportunities), Willis says she is at a point in her life where she would like to “slow down a little bit,” which is part of why she appreciates the ability to set her own schedule. Willis has partnered with Consilium since 2014, and she specifies flexibility and her working relationship with Landon Webb, her account manager, as reasons she plans to stay with Consilium long-term.

“I stay with Consilium not only because I believe in the company mission, but also because I have truly been enriched by my interactions with everyone I have spoken to,” Willis said. “I know I can always call Landon with anything I might need (even after-hours!), and that’s a huge comfort. It’s just easy with Consilium, and I will never forget the care they showed me after my accident this year.”

In June of 2017, just before starting another assignment with Consilium, Willis had been in a car wreck that resulted in a severe concussion and left her unable to work for nearly two months. She cites the care shown by Consilium team members as a source of support during a very difficult time, serving as further confirmation that she is exactly where she was meant to be.

“They never pressured me to come back before I was ready, and I knew that their concern was for me as a person, not just as a provider,” Willis said. “They worried about me, they called to check on me, and they prayed for me. All of that really meant something to me. When I was ready to work, I called Landon and told him it was time to give it a try, and we jumped right back in where we had left off. My work begins with patient care, and I truly believe that at Consilium, they start with care for their providers. I plan to stay with Consilium for a long, long time.”

Interested in putting your medical expertise to work with Consilium, or in finding quality medical providers to cover shifts at your facility?

More from Consilium’s partnering locum tenens providers:

Family Medicine Practitioners as Everyday Humanitarians

A message from John Moberly, partner and regional vice president at Consilium Staffing:

As our team geared up to head to San Antonio for the Family Medicine Experience (FMX), it was impossible not to think upon the devastation wrought by Hurricane Harvey throughout South Texas so recently. As a Texas resident myself, I cannot exaggerate the impact of this disaster, which has directly affected the family and friends of so many people in my office.

What has really struck me during this time is the eagerness of so many healthcare providers to help, whenever and wherever they may be needed. Consilium has had dozens of physicians, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners—many of whom do not even work on a locum tenens basis—nevertheless offer to take time off from their full-time jobs to provide care for the victims of this tragedy. We spoke to professionals from across the specialty spectrum who were moved to provide assistance, with about half of those offers coming from family medicine practitioners.

For me, that just speaks to the character of healthcare providers as people. I have such respect for the selflessness that your profession requires, and I am beyond grateful for the spirit of those who have chosen to dedicate their life to serving others, regardless of the sacrifices required.

I do a lot of work within the primary care sphere and I cannot say enough about the impact that family medicine physicians make on communities and the well-being of the people therein. Some of the most moving discussions I have had with providers give testament to this fact. A physician told me once, “You know John, I am three generations into my practice,” and I honestly cannot think of a higher compliment than being entrusted to provide care for entire families, from newborns to aging grandparents. That speaks volumes on who my partnering physicians are, as professionals and as people.

I view my mission, and the Consilium mission, as an extension of yours: together, we can help provide care to patients who otherwise would not be able to receive care in their community. When I connect a locum tenens physician with a healthcare facility that has been searching for a doctor for so long, I feel like I’m making a real difference, like I am truly working for the greater good.

In the hustle and bustle of healthcare law, ever-changing regulations, and (seemingly never-ending) congressional debates, I know that it can be easy for people to lose sight of what it is that physicians really do every day. But if you are attending FMX, even if you aren’t interested in working locum tenens, I urge you to at least come by Booth #1565 and meet our team—if nothing else, we’d love the opportunity to thank you.

John Moberly
Partner, Regional Vice President
Consilium Staffing

If you are a physician, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner interested in working locum tenens, or in adding your name to the list of those willing to help in areas affected by the hurricanes, get in touch with Jason Smith, regional vice president of account management:

Locum Tenens Provider Spotlight: Where a Passion for Psychiatry Converges with Advocacy

Dr. Eisele currently works with Consilium in inpatient and outpatient community mental health settings.

Karla Eisele couldn’t tell you exactly when or why she first decided to become a physician—it was just always part of her life plan, even as a young child. There were no doctors in her family, but she says the medical field drew her in “like a magnet.”

Despite the early affinity for a career in medicine, Eisele—a woman of many talents—did venture off on the occupational “detour” or two, so to speak.

“I did get sidetracked for a while,” Eisele said. “I realized in college that I also really loved math, and I ended up teaching high school math in Colorado! That was fun, but medicine was always in the back of my mind—after teaching for a few years, I finally decided to take this whole ‘medical school thing’ seriously.”

“I work very hard, so I love that with Consilium, I have the flexibility to schedule a vacation whenever is best for me. I just let Penny—my account manager—know when I will be out, and she takes care of everything.”

Dr. Eisele on her most recent vacation, pictured with her boyfriend Greg

Her decision to pursue psychiatry in particular had much to do with the foresight of her medical school: already aware of the psychiatrist shortage, the University of Colorado had introduced a psychiatry rotation for second-year students to provide early exposure and encourage higher entry to the field.

“Listen, your second year of medical school, you are so bogged down with lectures that a rotation in ANYTHING would be a welcome change,” Eisele laughed. “But that was honestly just ‘it’ for me. As soon as I got involved in psychiatry it was all over—I knew this was absolutely what I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing.”

After medical school, Dr. Eisele completed residency in Wichita, Kansas, and soon after made her way to Idaho, where she worked in an inpatient state mental health facility.

“This was probably a bit naïve, but I had really planned to stay at that hospital forever,” Eisele said. “I really loved it there, but eventually I just needed a change of pace and scenery.”

After seven years as an inpatient psychiatrist in Idaho, Dr. Eisele was eager to move to a new work setting but was leery of committing to a new job before knowing it was the right fit. To ensure she would find her ideal new career home, she decided to give locum tenens a try.

“It turns out that I was really fond of those shorter assignments and all the variety they offered, so I ended up sticking with locums,” Eisele said. “I am so glad I was able to start working with Consilium. I’ve been with Penny—my account manager—from the very beginning and she is just so, so nice! She’s sweet yet also tells it to me straight: I know that if I ever have a problem, all I have to do is call Penny and she will handle it right away.”

Q&A with Dr. Karla Eisele, Locum Tenens Psychiatrist

You have a real passion for inpatient settings. What is it that draws you to inpatient psychiatry in particular?

Believe it or not, my favorite thing is that when I go to work every day, I don’t know exactly what situations I will encounter that day—I get to think on my feet a bit. It’s very exciting, very challenging, and at the same time very rewarding, too. It can be incredibly difficult when you have patients who have gone without treatment and are truly afraid that we are going to hurt them rather than help them. The reward piece comes in when they begin to understand that we really do care about them, there really IS something wrong, and we really can help them. It’s when that lightbulb clicks on that you feel like you’ve made a difference.

Also, in inpatient settings you frequently interact with professionals in diverse specialties, which puts me in a better position to advocate for the needs of my patients. Too often, psychiatric patients do not receive quality medical care, so for that reason it is important to remain current in general medicine in addition to psychiatry. As a physician, this is where I get to step in and monitor their medical condition and then refer out to doctors who I trust to treat my patients well and genuinely listen to them.

There is this stigma in the general population surrounding mental illness and the use of psychiatric medications, but it’s truly no different from somebody needing medicine to help control high blood pressure. At the end of the day, my patients are just people—people who need help, who need to know that there are people who care about them and their struggles.

So you really have a platform to advocate for your patients.

Absolutely. And working in community health, I have additional opportunities to do just that. With the economic crash several years back, many facilities that served vulnerable populations closed, and they have not reopened at the same rate they closed. Because I work closely with my patients and their whole care team, I am able to identify ways that processes can be improved and pass that along to facility administrators. In turn, they can use that information to press for changes on a systemic level so we can better serve our patients.

You currently work with Consilium in inpatient and outpatient community health settings—what does a typical “day in your life” look like?

I go to the inpatient unit first thing in the morning and do rounds on anywhere from 4 to 8 patients. Around noon, I go to my outpatient clinic and see people from the community to ensure they are on the best medicines—and the appropriate dosages—for their specific conditions. I used to think that outpatient work would not be exciting enough for me, but I have really enjoyed it!

The really cool thing about the outpatient clinic where Consilium placed me is that the building also houses an adult group home. These are people who are dealing with serious mental illnesses and would not be able to live in the community by themselves. But in the facility, they each have their own unit—which is basically like a little apartment—complete with a kitchen. Basically, they are able to be somewhat independent while also having access to staff members as needed. When it’s time for their visit with me, they just come downstairs. It’s so neat, and it’s really the best possible scenario for my patients.

How has working locum tenens with Consilium impacted your life?

I genuinely feel like my current work arrangement is the best fit for me thus far in my career. The flexibility is one of the best parts for me. I work very hard, so I love that Consilium gives me the flexibility to schedule a vacation whenever is best for me. I really, really appreciate that. I am also paid more than if I were working as a permanent employee: it would honestly be difficult to go back to a more traditional set-up because of the pay cut that would require.

Most importantly though, I stay with Consilium because of the working relationship I have built with my account manager over time. At the end of the day, it’s simple: I plan to stay with Penny!

Interested in putting your medical expertise to work with Consilium, or in finding quality medical providers to cover shifts at your facility?

More from Consilium’s partnering locum tenens physicians:

Locum Tenens Provider Spotlight: Strengthening Communities Through Medicine and Ministry

Dr. Days, pictured with his wife Angella, currently works with Consilium at a community health system in South Carolina.

The Pursuit of Medicine as a Roadmap Through Life

Though he speaks with an air of humility that initially belies his—quite considerable—accomplishments, Jacques Days could talk all day about his love for medicine and the people he has the opportunity to serve.

“My career is not just about the medicine: it’s about the connection, about making a difference in people’s lives. The work I get to do with Consilium is completely consistent with my vision for medicine.”

“I actually made the decision to go into family medicine specifically at a young age, probably in the 9th or 10th grade,” Days said. “Although when I announced this to my mother, she was not at all astonished: apparently, I first mentioned becoming a doctor at the age of four, so this was not big news to her.”

Dr. Days is originally from Mount Vernon, Georgia, which boasted a population of fewer than 2,000 people during Days’ childhood. He says that much of his determination to pursue family medicine stemmed from firsthand knowledge of how a community can be affected by inadequate access to medical care.

“The importance of having a sufficient number of physicians to provide care, especially in generally underserved communities, was very salient to me as a child,” Days said. “When you only have one doctor to serve the needs of your whole community—especially when he or she isn’t there but a few days of the week, as was the case in my hometown—there is a real need for someone to fill that gap.”

Ever the pragmatist even as a teenager, Days wanted to ensure he fully understood what he was “getting himself into” before embarking on the winding road that comprises the journey to physicianhood. He spent the summers after his junior and senior years of high school at the Medical College of Georgia, where he completed biomedical science courses and labs, participated in scholarly research, and shadowed physicians. These experiences further solidified the notion that the medical field was exactly where he was meant to be.

Dr. Days completed his undergraduate education at Morris Brown College in Atlanta—to which he received a full-ride scholarship—during which time he also participated in scientific research programs at Emory University and Brown University. Bringing his medical education to that point full circle, Days then enrolled in medical school at the Medical College of Georgia.

Combining a Passion for Medicine with a Dedication to Faith

Another certainty throughout Days’ life is his steadfast belief in a higher power, which ultimately led to his match with the In His Image Family Medicine Residency program, a Christian family medicine residency based in Oklahoma. For him, the clincher was the focus on training resident physicians in a variety of medical settings in order to better serve—and thus minister to—medically underserved populations.

“My residency program really prepared me to practice any kind of medicine anywhere in the world,” Days said. “The idea was that if we ever felt called to foreign medical missions, then we could use our training anywhere. We really experienced the full gamut of family medicine, from obstetrics to chronic, inpatient, emergency, and intensive care.”

Upon his entry into the program, however, Dr. Days recalls feeling some trepidation surrounding obstetrical care. As fate would have it, he was assigned on-call duties his first week in the program, which meant he was responsible for the emergency room and inpatient services as well as the obstetrical unit. He was called in that week for an OB case, a patient the nurse said would be there a long while before delivering. Dr. Days, under the assumption he would only need to check in and provide a status update and reassurance, went to see the expectant (and first-time) mother.

“I was in for quite a shock,” Days said. “I was told that the woman was only dilated to one centimeter, but I immediately discovered that we were looking at more like TEN centimeters. I didn’t have time to call for assistance—or even to gown up!—before essentially catching that baby. But after that moment, you could not tear me away from the obstetrical ward: I absolutely fell in love with it.”

Dr. Days cites the opportunity to pray with expectant parents before delivery as a powerful early merging of his faith and medical expertise. Despite his passion for obstetrics, however, Dr. Days ultimately joined a private practice that did not provide OB services.

“They did invite me to advocate for the inclusion of obstetrical care, but I decided to get acclimated and build some rapport before pressing for such big changes,” Days said. “But—as any physician can testify—if you don’t push for something right out the gate, it’s unlikely to happen down the road. I never did go back to delivering babies.”

Juggling a Full Plate As Thy Cup Runneth Over

When Dr. Days started in private practice in the late ‘90s, he was often there very late in the evening finishing paperwork. At the time, he was handling inpatient on-call duties (this was prior to the rise of hospitalists) in addition to his responsibilities as vice president of family medicine at a nearby hospital. He estimates that at that time, he was consistently dedicating a solid 80 hours per week to work.

Despite his heavy workload, Dr. Days was not one to neglect any pursuit which he believed central to his mission. Alongside his work as a physician, he prepared to answer the call to ministry by completing the five-year pre-ordination training program for the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church, which he completed in 2006. Concurrently, he was working in a community health center as well as taking on occasional locum tenens opportunities on weekends.

In early 2007, Dr. Days decided it was time to take a sabbatical from medicine. Not a full sabbatical, as he clarifies, but it was certainly “time to take a breath.” Though he initially started working locum tenens in 2002 to fill income gaps while searching for a new position, during his sabbatical Dr. Days transitioned to working locum tenens exclusively while he decided upon his next move.

“Hands down, the hardest part about private practice is the ongoing time constraint of excessive paperwork and administrative oversight,” Days said. “The difference with locums is that I choose my own schedule and most of my time is truly spent with patients: I just see my patients, complete necessary paperwork, and go right home at 5 p.m.”

In late 2007, in the midst of his semi-hiatus from medicine, Dr. Days was called to pastor Adams Chapel AME Church in Rock Hill, South Carolina. In a nod to the Apostle Paul, who used his tent-making skills to support himself as he traveled for ministry, Dr. Days refers to locum tenens as his “own personal tent-making.”

Upon accepting the pastorship, Dr. Days returned to the community health center and—with the additional income from working locums—was able to pastor the church without requiring a salary the first two years, and then only a small portion afterwards. In turn, the well-respected work his church performed in the community opened another service-related door: in January of 2016, Dr. Days also began serving as president of the Rock Hill chapter of the NAACP.

“If there is anything I could say that each of my pursuits has in common, it would be a shared commitment to service,” Days said. “What my career journey really demonstrates, from my perspective, is that God is sovereign over all areas of our lives. He has a plan, and everything is connected.”

Self-Care and Service to Others: Finding the Right Balance

In early 2017, Dr. Days decided it was time to start paring down his schedule altogether. He stepped down as pastor after ten years of dedicated service and also declined to run for another term as NAACP president. At present, he even manages to avoid his previously characteristic 80-hour work weeks, a change made possible in large part by working locum tenens.

“I’m only 48, so I’m certainly not old, but I AM starting to feel my age,” Days laughed. “It’s definitely time for me to slow down a bit.”

Despite a more “human” number of obligations, Dr. Days remains a consistent presence in several community health clinics throughout South Carolina. For him, working in community health harkens back to his childhood impetus to study medicine, and Consilium—being a faith-based company with its own commitment to servant leadership—has proven to be the right partner in that endeavor.

“From everything I have experienced, I can say that Consilium falls in line with my own vision for medicine, and they have placed me in clinics where I am able to meet genuine needs in local communities,” Days said. “It is a blessing to work with Consilium in a community health setting—both of which align with my passion for service to others—and know that I am doing something truly beneficial for other people.”

The sheer scope of the service Dr. Days has provided during his lifetime—and the commitment and sacrifices undoubtedly required—certainly begs the question: why (and furthermore, how)?

“Why do I do what I do…,” Days mused. “Really, it boils down to the fact that God has been good to me. My hope is that when I am able to help others, they understand that that service is due to a good and gracious God. If it were just about medicine or the income, I would have quit a long, long time ago. But when I go to work every day, I get to serve people, to connect with them, and that’s really what has made all the difference.”

Interested in putting your medical expertise to work with Consilium, or in finding quality medical providers to cover shifts at your facility?

More from Consilium’s partnering locum tenens physicians:

Locum Tenens Provider Spotlight: Combining Knowledge and Intuition to Make a World of Difference

A Family Mission to Heal

Monzer Saad knew he had a passion for medicine by the time he was 10 or 11 years old. Dr. Saad is originally from Lebanon—many regions of which have faced physician shortages due to long-standing civil unrest—which he says instilled a deep understanding of the importance of accessible medical care. Both his uncle and grandfather were physicians, and as a child he relished any opportunity to shadow them at work. As he grew up, it became increasingly apparent that he felt called to become a doctor.

Finding A Balanced Lifestyle with Locum Tenens

After immigrating to the United States, Dr. Saad attended Wayne State University for his bachelor’s degree and then Michigan State University for medical school, after which he completed three years of residency in internal medicine. Through residency and additional volunteer work, he gained experience in an impressive range of medical environments, which span urgent care, intensive care, outpatient community health, long-term care, rehabilitation, and traditional hospitalist settings.

For a time after completing residency, Dr. Saad covered clinic shifts in addition to his hospitalist work. Including documentations, he was sometimes logging upwards of 18 hours per day plus maintaining 24/7 on-call responsibilities. He soon found that—like many physicians—he had prioritized the needs of his patients while neglecting his own. After crossing a clear burnout threshold, he even considered leaving medicine entirely.

Luckily, Dr. Saad had several friends working locum tenens who encouraged him to consider doing the same. When he received a call from Consilium soon thereafter, he jumped at the opportunity and never looked back. He credits this introduction to locums and ensuing Consilium partnership with the fact that he is still doing the work he loves while also spending ample time with his family.

“My pay while I was working to the point of exhaustion was much lower than my earnings for fewer hours as a locum tenens hospitalist,” said Dr. Saad. “I work very hard and I give each patient the best care that I possibly can, so it is incredibly rewarding to feel that I am appreciated and compensated for that dedication.”

“Going with Your Gut” When it Matters Most

Like many physicians, Dr. Saad can provide numerous examples when asked about memorable experiences in medicine. There was one story in particular, however, that left a significant impression on him…as well as on the patient whose life was forever changed due to Dr. Saad’s diligence, persistence, and willingness to follow his gut instinct.

While working as a hospitalist, he admitted a patient in her early 70s who had numerous nodules on her lungs. She was generally very healthy aside from the nodules, but by the time he saw her, all signs pointed to cancer; she was uncharacteristically weak and very tired. After many talks with her family, Dr. Saad recalled, the patient was at the point of just “letting go,” thinking that it was too late. The woman’s family felt there was no reason to undergo the biopsy process to formally diagnose; the final decision had all but been made.

But when Dr. Saad reviewed her medical records, he saw no family history of cancer and no tobacco use yet an extensive personal history of inflammatory problems. He told his patient that he simply was not convinced she had cancer and asked if she would be willing to have the biopsy despite preliminary tests results. After a great many discussions with her, his patient finally told him, “If you have faith that this really might not be cancer, and you truly believe we should go through with this, then let’s just go for it.”

That trust was very handily rewarded: biopsy results determined that—just as Dr. Saad suspected—the nodules were benign. In reality, his patient had a rare but curable condition called Wegener’s Disease that was causing her symptoms. After several months of treatment, she was completely rid of the nodules and had returned to life as she knew it.

Months later, to Dr. Saad’s surprise, he received an unexpected visitor during one of his shifts. His former patient, fully back to her usual spry self, arrived at the hospital and absolutely insisted upon visiting his floor to present him with homemade cookies, her own personal token of gratitude. That moment, according to Dr. Saad, is still one of the most rewarding points of his career.

Monzer Saad currently works with Consilium as a locum tenens hospitalist. When not on assignment, he spends most of his time with his wife and five-year-old daughter.

Learn more about Dr. Saad’s experience as a locum tenens hospitalist: I Was Considering Leaving Medicine…But Then I Found Locum Tenens

Interested in putting your medical expertise to work with Consilium, or in finding quality medical providers to cover shifts at your facility?

More from Consilium’s partnering locum tenens physicians:

I Was Considering Leaving Medicine…But Then I Found Locum Tenens

As the healthcare landscape in the United States continues to change, physicians are facing larger patient loads and the burden of increased paperwork and other administrative tasks. One of our hospitalists offered insight into how working locum tenens with Consilium has helped him achieve his best work-life balance, meet financial goals, and continue to do the work he loves most.

“You guys truly are doing an excellent job. That’s why we’re still together now, and I hope for many years to come!”

Why I Started Working Locum Tenens

Before making the switch to locum tenens, I was working in a clinic seeing 4+ patients per hour as well as doing copious amounts of office work and then driving to the hospital to see my own patients. Including documentations, I was sometimes working as many as 18 hours per day on top of being on-call 24/7—I was exhausted and my quality of life was virtually zero. At some point I started thinking that this must be what life was like for an internal medicine physician and I considered leaving medicine entirely. Luckily, some of my friends were working locums and suggested I give it a try—I’m so glad I did!

My entry into the locums world began with a phone call from Christian, my recruiter at Consilium, who spent time learning what sort of work opportunities genuinely interested me. That was soon followed by a call from Brent, my account manager, who helped me book my first locums job. I’ve worked with them ever since, and it has really been a great experience.

The best part about Consilium is that I always feel like I’m somehow the only physician they’re working with. At some point I started wondering, “How can they actually give this kind of individualized care to every physician?” Every interaction feels respectful and genuine, and I really appreciate that.

Perks of Working Locum Tenens

Consilium has provided me with exposure to different medical settings and allowed me to do exactly the kind of work I enjoy while also rewarding me for that hard work. In addition to receiving greater overall compensation while working less exhausting hours, when I finish my shift, I’m actually done. I can go home or to my hotel without having to worry about being paged, and if I want to take a vacation far from the hospital, I have that freedom!

Because Consilium offers you exposure to diverse healthcare settings, you are able to make a truly informed decision about what interests you most. Instead of having to visit a new hospital, go through orientation, and spend time walking around meeting people, Consilium actually pays you to become part of a hospital team and get an inside look at how things work and how that setting fits for you.

Advice to New Locum Tenens Physicians

Prioritize self-care. In locums, just as with traditional positions, you have to be sure that you take care of yourself so you don’t end up burned out. Even if you love what you are doing, you cannot keep up a frenetic work schedule and “all-work, no-play” approach for too long. Be sure that you take time for yourself and stay connected to your friends and family members.

Come in with an open mind. One thing that surprised me about working locums was how friendly and welcoming hospital staff have been. Perhaps I’ve gotten lucky, but I always felt like I clicked with everyone and was able to become part of the team, part of the family.

Understand that your account manager is your advocate when you are on assignment. I love that with Consilium, I know that I can always come to my account manager—or even to my recruiter— if I have any questions or concerns. I know that Brent and Christian will take the initiative to call, email, or text me back and make sure any worries are swiftly handled. They just make things easy for me and I could not be happier about my experience with Consilium.

Dr. Monzer Saad, who is originally from Lebanon, says his love for medicine first developed in childhood when he began shadowing his uncle and grandfather, both of whom are physicians. He currently works with Consilium as a nocturnist.

More locum tenens insight from Consilium hospitalists:

Interested in putting your medical expertise to work with Consilium, or in finding quality medical providers to cover shifts at your facility?

Health Tips for Male Physicians From Fellow Doctors

Disclaimer: Views and opinions expressed in this blog are based on the expert opinions of the quoted medical professionals. Post content does not constitute medical advice and is not a reflection of the official stance of Consilium Staffing.

Despite their vast medical knowledge and everyday immersion in the healthcare field, physicians are not immune from facing the same health struggles they help their patients navigate. In fact, as their schedules becoming increasingly hectic, physicians may actually be at higher risk for hypertension, burnout, and slipping into a sedentary lifestyle, all of which can be linked to poorer physical and psychological health. For Men’s Health Week, we spoke with two family practice physicians for tips on how fellow male physicians can counteract those risk factors and maintain peak physical and psychological health.

  • Sahba Ferdowsi currently practices medicine at a men’s health clinic, where he guides patients through health challenges specific to adult men.
  • Steve Papariello, medical director for the Men’s Wellness Centers located in Florida and Virginia, operated his own practice for more than 25 years.

Make Your Well-Being a Priority (And Don’t Apologize For It)

“You have to truly, truly prioritize self-care,” said Papariello. “If you aren’t taking care of yourself, it’s a lot harder to provide the best possible care for your patients and to be your best self for your family.”

Many physicians are unsatisfied with their current work schedules, which frequently leave little room for vacations, time with family and friends, or the pursuit of outside interests. That combination can quickly lead to burnout, one of the many factors that lead physicians to make the switch to working locum tenens, which offers the flexibility to prioritize your emotional health while maintaining your medical career.

“If you want to maintain longevity working in medicine, you absolutely have to figure out how to create a realistic work-life balance,” Ferdowsi said. “You have to leave work at work, period, and you have to decide how much you can work and still feel ‘full’ emotionally. I have found that mindful meditation is incredibly helpful in bridging that gap in my own life. I certainly recommend that physicians begin practicing mindfulness as part of their self-care routine.”

Take Charge of Your Own Health by Going ‘Back to the Basics’

If you ask most physicians about the health advice they give their patients, two dominant themes emerge: diet and exercise. But in their personal life? Studies have indicated that as physicians work increasingly long hours, physical activity is erased from their daily routine. [2] Additionally, physicians experiencing burnout are more likely to describe themselves as overweight or obese than are physicians who do not report burnout symptoms. [1, 3]

“It’s something we all already know, but the most important thing you can do to improve your health is to simply return to the big two: diet and exercise,” said Ferdowsi. “Watch your overall calorie consumption, eat more fruits and vegetables, and get up and exercise—even if it’s just going for walks.”

Papariello agrees, and adds the recommendation that busy physicians exercise first thing in the morning. “I get up at 4:30 in the morning to go biking,” he said. “Otherwise, I know it wouldn’t happen. Previously, I worked upwards of 12 hours per day, seven days a week. By the time I got finished for the day, there was just no way I was dragging myself to go work out. But when I bike in the morning, I actually get to enjoy it again.”

Enlist a Support Team

As a physician, you frequently make decisions that affect your patients, your practice, and everyone on your healthcare team. But who helps you take an objective look at your own health and well-being?

Ferdowsi highlighted the importance of relying on a solid relationship with another healthcare provider: your own physician. “Make sure you have a good primary care physician, adhere to the age-based recommended schedule for testing, and if you feel like something might be wrong, don’t put off going to see your doctor. We don’t talk about this nearly enough, but as you age, you become increasingly at risk for developing symptoms associated with low testosterone levels. See your physician if you notice elevated fatigue, decreases in muscle mass, and a loss of interest in activities you usually enjoy.”

In addition to your primary care provider, Papariello adds that family members can be invaluable in helping physicians check in on whether their current arrangement is meeting their needs.

“When I worked such long hours, I was unhappy with my schedule but was too exhausted to do much to change that,” said Papariello. “My move to working as a medical director was actually due to my wife. I came home late one Monday and learned that after seeing an ad for a job that looked like a good fit, she had set me up for an interview the next day. I jumped at the opportunity and haven’t looked back since. Now I certainly don’t advocate that everyone go become a medical director, but I would suggest that you keep an open line of communication with those who know you best.”

Daily Health Tips for Busy Physicians

Health and fitness advice can often be nuanced and complicated. Drs. Ferdowsi and Papariello recommend keeping it simple and adding a few of these behaviors to your daily routine for a measureable improvement in your overall health:

Considering a change in your practice schedule or setting? Search our open locum tenens job opportunities and build your career around your ideal work-life balance.

Sources

  1. Helfand BK, Mukamal KJ. Healthcare and lifestyle practices of healthcare workers: do healthcare workers practice what they preach? JAMA Intern Med. 2013;173:242-244.
  2. Liang, J. J. (2014). Diet and Exercise During Cardiology Fellowship Training. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 64(16), 1755-1757. doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2014.08.026
  3. Medscape, Physician Lifestyle Report 2015.

The Interstate Medical Licensure Compact: What Does it Mean for Locum Tenens Physicians?

The Interstate Medical Licensure Compact (IMLC), originally introduced in 2013, was first used to issue multistate medical licenses on April 20, 2017. The most-hailed Compact benefit is the lessened turnaround time: physicians are able to complete one online application to become licensed in as many participant states as desired. For providers practicing near state borders—and especially for locum tenens physicians who travel across state lines for work—the IMLC offers a convenient way to expand their services, providing freedom and flexibility to physicians and increasing overall access to healthcare for patients.

The Licensure Compact: Fast Facts for Locum Tenens Physicians

Benefits: The compact greatly increases the ability of locum tenens physicians to travel and provide quality medical care where patients need it most. Consilium is committed to matching our partnering physicians with locum tenens opportunities that best meet their specifications—the IMLC helps ensure that location will no longer be a barrier to helping you find your best professional fit.

Eligibility: Physicians must hold a full, unrestricted medical license in a state that has adopted the IMLC. In addition, you must live or work in your State of Principal Licensure (SPL), or “home state.” For more information on eligibility requirements, visit www.imlcc.org.

Cost: The IMLC Commission will charge one $700 fee for your State of Principal Licensure to conduct your background check. You will then pay state-specific fees for only the states in which you plan to practice medicine.

Interested in working a locum tenens position in a Compact state where you are not yet licensed? We’ve got you covered: in most cases, Consilium will reimburse the state fee for any new Compact license you obtain specifically for one of our opportunities.

The Process: You will complete the online licensure application with your home state, which will then be used to qualify you to practice medicine across state lines. What to expect:

  1. Complete the online licensure application for your State of Principal Licensure.
  2. Your home state will then verify your information and conduct a new background check for a fee of $700. You should receive results within several weeks.
  3. After receiving clearance, you will be sent a Letter of Qualification from your home state.
  4. You can then choose to become licensed in as many participating Compact states as desired.
  5. Submit state-specific licensure fees for your selected states—your additional licenses should be issued within a matter of days.

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Interested in locum tenens opportunities in IMLC states?

Call Consilium at +1 (877) 536-4696 and ask for the recruiter for your area or complete our convenient online form.