Category Archives: Provider Spotlights

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:

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:

Locum Tenens Provider Spotlight: Hospital Medicine is ‘Both a Science and an Art’

Dr. Farnel Backer, one of Consilium’s partnering hospitalists, has taken on diverse medical roles and gained experience in numerous practice settings throughout his career. He credits his experience in multiple medical settings—including five years in pharmacy—with much of his success as a physician.

Why did you become a physician?

I was actually a pharmacist first, but I decided that my real calling was to be at the forefront of healthcare decision-making for patients.

What made you decide to become a hospitalist?

I have worked in a number of different settings, and when I eventually made my way to hospitalist work it just felt like the right fit.

What is your favorite part of your job?

I like the pace, the amount of input I have in making patient health decisions, and the results I get to see after working with patients for a short amount of time as compared to outpatient settings. I get to watch patients improve and then become healthy enough to go home. That’s what really keeps me going.

What do you feel is the most challenging part of hospitalist work?

Much more so than before—and I think many of my colleagues would agree—there is consistent pressure from case managers and social workers to discharge patients. We constantly have to make decisions that impact patients’ lives, both financially and in terms of health, in addition to affecting the hospital’s readmission rates.

It’s a balancing act: we of course can’t discharge patients until they are stable, but we also have to balance whether they can work with an outpatient physician and expect similar results or whether they really should stay another couple days so we can get to the bottom of the cause and get them well more quickly.

What is one of your favorite parts of working locums?

I tell you what, the best part for me is getting to travel. Aside from that, I honestly enjoy the challenge of going to a facility that is chaotic in the beginning. Within a couple of days, I get to figure out what is going on, how to fix it, and really begin to feel like part of the team. I like the fact that I can step into this new place, a completely new territory, and get the lay of the land and function despite the challenge. That’s the high point for me.

What are some of the challenges of working locum tenens?

It can be challenging to start working in a new facility where people know that their current procedures are not working, yet they are reluctant to implement simple changes that would really improve their processes and—as a result—patient care.

What is something you have learned while working locum tenens? Did anything surprise you?

Honestly, what surprised me most was the sheer need for locum tenens providers. After that, I’d say I’m surprised about how great my experience has been—and that I’m still working locums! It has been unbelievably good.

I will say this though: locum tenens is not for everyone. It takes a certain mentality. If you aren’t bold enough to believe that you can fit in anywhere, locums isn’t for you. For me, I truly believe that as long as I have patients and a stethoscope, I can navigate everything else. The politics, technology, bureaucracy…that’s all just noise. I am there to treat patients.

What is one piece of advice you would give to prospective locum tenens providers?

I actually have two pieces of advice, one for working with your locums company and one for when you go to work.

First, make sure that you are frank about what you are comfortable with in terms of facility setting, location, and compensation. If your account manager knows what you need, he or she is much more able to find you an opportunity that you are happy with.

Secondly, whichever facility you go to, look at yourself as part of the team, like you belong. If you go into a job with the mentality that you are “just a locum,” or that you’re just going to do a job and get a paycheck, you are setting yourself up for failure and I promise that you will end up being unhappy. I tell people to go in thinking, “I own this place, I belong here, and I am going to go in and give it 110%.”

Remember, you work in medicine: your job is at every single hospital in the United States. Whenever you step foot in any hospital in this country, your footprint is going to stay. If you can remember that, you will protect your reputation, the hospital will benefit, and your patients will receive high-quality care—that’s the bottom line.

Is there anything in particular that facilities could change or improve to make locums’ experiences better?

My advice to hospitals is similar to what I tell new locums providers: treat locum tenens hospitalists like a true part of the team. For permanent physicians, it is in your best interest to treat us as if we are “one of you,” so that we can produce like you, meet expectations like you, and provide patients with excellent care just like you are expected to. The moment you start to believe someone is “just a locum,” you hinder their capability to give you 100% of the dedication that they can and should be providing.

At the end of the day, locum tenens providers often have experience in numerous different facilities, diverse practice settings, and even in different medical roles. We’ve been around the block a bit more than average, and we often have additional perspective on what processes are effective and what could be improved based upon what we’ve experienced. Given that, expectations should actually be even higher for locum physicians than they are for the permanent providers. I believe that in many situations, our knowledge is not being tapped nearly enough.

Why did you choose to work with Consilium? How did you first hear about us?

Kyle, my recruiter, called me about a position. He was very positive and just sounded like a go-getter, and he was very straightforward with me about the job details. Soon after that, I was on the phone with Jason, my account manager, and he filled in the rest. They gave me the information I needed to know without sugarcoating it or leaving anything out. I have had other locums companies call me and ask me to work but then refuse to give me important details (such as the facility location) unless I agreed to work.

For me, if you don’t trust me to act like a professional, then we don’t need to work together. I feel like Consilium showed trust in me as a person and a physician, and that made it a lot easier to trust that they would be the right company for me.

How has working locum tenens with Consilium impacted your life?

Jason and Kyle have really made me feel like Consilium considers me as part of the team. I really appreciate that. Maybe a month ago, I got a call about a job and they made sure to tell me that they appreciate my work and asked if I would be at Hospital Medicine 2017 in case they could meet me in person. They make me feel like my work is valued, as if they’re saying, “You’re one of us.”

Another thing Consilium does really well is provide consistency with the people I talk to. If I talk to someone at Consilium I don’t know yet, it’s when Kyle or Jason has already made an introduction so I’m not on the phone thinking, “Who is this person?” Forewarning is very important for me—it makes everything easier when I already have this established relationship.

What is one of your most memorable experiences as a physician?

Wow, there are so many… But you know what, I had a great experience just the other day. I was working in the ICU when I heard a woman say, “Hey you, come here!” I was sitting there thinking, “Who is this lady calling me,” but I walked into the room anyway. She asked if I remembered her, but I could not recall her face.

She said, “You took care of me three years ago. I remember you because of how encouraging you were when you took care of me.” Now, I have no idea what I said to her, but I do know that she must have been feeling vulnerable and helpless at the time and when I came in and spoke with her, that’s what she remembered about the experience. She gave me a big hug and thanked me, and it just made my whole night.

Medicine is both a science and an art. I believe that providing treatments to patients—though it’s what I went to school for—is actually the easiest part of being a physician. I diagnose diseases for a living, so that’s not that impressive to me personally. But when I can truly relate to a patient on a human level, that’s what really brings me joy. When I get to that level where patients trust and understand me and believe that I genuinely sympathize with them and their situation, I would say that I have reached my mountaintop. And that is priceless.

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.

Locum Tenens Provider Spotlight: Serving Veterans Through Advanced Nuclear Imaging

Consilium Locum Tenens Provider Spotlight-Dr. Lesley Flynt

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.

Provider Spotlight: Consilium Through the Eyes of a Well-Traveled Locum Tenens Physician

Locum Tenens Provider Spotlight: Dr. Sima Assefi

Locum Tenens Dr. Assefi and Landon Webb
Dr. Sima Assefi & Landon Webb

On December 29, Consilium had the honor of hosting Dr. Sima Assefi, one of our partnering locum tenens physicians, for a talk about her experiences as a locum provider. Immediately following the presentation, Consilium partner and regional vice-president Landon Webb presented Dr. Assefi with Consilium’s first ever Distinguished Service Award. During her time with Consilium, Dr. Assefi has worked more than 4,000 hours at 22 urgent care centers and has treated more than 12,000 patients from rural areas. Completely aside from the life-changing work she does on a daily basis, Dr. Assefi has an inspiring personal story all on her own.

Though born in Tehran, Iran, Dr. Assefi attended secondary school in Kent, England, following political unrest—and eventual war—that necessitated she and her sister flee their home country. After completing secondary school, Dr. Assefi moved to the United States and earned her undergraduate degree in natural sciences from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. While in college, Dr. Assefi worked in bakeries, as a third-shift dispatcher at a taxi company, and later as a waitress and bartender to pay her way through school and help support her younger brother, who was still studying in the U.K. Upon her brother’s graduation, Dr. Assefi was then—at the age of 33— able to enroll in Eugenio Maria de Hostos Medical School in the Dominican Republic.

After completing her residency in family medicine and an extra year of OB/GYN training in the United States, Dr. Assefi took a permanent job in family medicine. She had been contacted by Landon about an urgent care position, but felt at the time that she did not have the necessary urgent care experience to take on that role. Unfortunately, soon after starting her permanent contract, Dr. Assefi was diagnosed with cancer and had to leave the new position while she underwent treatment. Following successful treatment, Dr. Assefi found that her previous role had been filled and instead took a permanent urgent care position at the insistence of the clinic’s medical director, who assured her that she was more than qualified for the position.

To add another twist in the road, that facility made the decision to close due to insufficient profits and Dr. Assefi was faced with yet another career change. Fortuitously, in early 2014 Landon again called Dr. Assefi at what she says was exactly the right time. This time, after beefing up her experience in urgent care, she was eager to accept Consilium’s offer.

Q: Why do you choose to work locum tenens?

A: Locum tenens allows me to practice medicine as I deem best. There is so much red tape in permanent positions, a whole lot of “Do’s and Don’ts” that do not always result in best possible care for each patient. Locums work provides me with more freedom to use my best medical judgement when working with patients. To me, everybody’s story is different, and a patient’s story influences the best method of treatment. I refuse to view patients as just “cases” that can all be treated with a one-size-fits-all approach.

Working as a locum can be lonely at times because you are always the new person and have not yet built rapport with the permanent staff. This is part of why it is so important to have an account manager who truly cares about you as a person, so that you always have someone to call if you need help or just a listening ear. One upside to coming into a new position as an “outsider,” however, is that you do not have to deal with any of the internal gossip that happens in the facility—it never involves you!

Q: Out of all the job offers you undoubtedly receive, why have you continued to choose Consilium time after time?

A: It’s really about the people. For me, it is the relationship I have built over time with Landon, my account manager. I love the fact that I have personal contact with ONE person who I can call or text while I am away from home and can get a response to any questions or concerns—or even just to vent if I need to. Landon works with me throughout each step on all of my assignments rather than me having to call or email several different people for issues with scheduling, vacation time, paychecks, or anything else that may come up. Landon has been my friend—and really like family—throughout my dealing with winding roads, unfamiliar surroundings, hectic shifts, and anything else life threw at me along the way.

I also believe Consilium chooses good places to send their locums providers. I like the facilities where Consilium has placed me—each clinic has taken good care of its doctors. Physicians get a lot of calls about locum tenens jobs, and we can tell the difference between salespeople who are only calling because they have to and those who genuinely care about our mission and about us as people. I genuinely believe that Consilium has our best interests at heart.

Q: How has working locum tenens with Consilium impacted your life?

A: Because of the greater flexibility in scheduling, I have been able to achieve my vision of the ideal work-life balance: I work hard, but I get to play hard too. For example, I can schedule six shifts all in one week instead of spreading them out over two weeks, which leaves time to attend CME (continuing medical education) conferences and travel the country a bit while I am at it. The flexibility also allows me to take vacations and see my family overseas, which generally is not possible with a permanent contract. After not being able to see my family for seven years during the war, this is incredibly meaningful to me.

I work very hard, but as a locums physician I have simultaneously been able to live. Through Consilium, I am able to continue the work about which I am passionate yet also live and love my life. Furthermore, if something is ever not working for me, I always have the option of change.

 

Interested in putting your medical expertise to work with Consilium, or in finding locum tenens providers to cover shifts at your facility? Give us a call at 877-536-4696.