Tag Archives: Advocacy

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: