I’d like to take a moment to recognize someone who has done a lot of good in the healthcare community – my dad. If he reads this (or, if what I suspect is more likely, the ladies at his office read this – hi guys!) I know he’ll be slightly embarrassed, but its true: my dad has done a lot for the healthcare community in his area, particularly as regards rural health. He was recently recognized for this by a national medical magazine where he made the front cover and was featured in a multi-page article regarding his rural medical practice.
The picture wouldn’t blow up an larger than this!
I had the privilege of working in his office for 7 years off-and-on through high school and college. It was where I first discovered a love of patient care and where I constantly saw that his commitment to healthcare went beyond monetary reimbursement and financial success. Despite that, his clinic has been praised as “still [making] a profit with most of his patients on Medicaid and Medicare”. No easy feat, I can assure you. I can remember my dad saying things like, “People forget that being a doctor and being in healthcare is about being a public servant. You serve the public, and if you don’t like it, then you shouldn’t be in healthcare”. Or, upon hearing of someone in the community who was sick but didn’t have health insurance, would say, “We’ll see them for free” as if it were par for the course, no big deal. He volunteered his services for a local crisis pregnancy center, and I can even recall going on a house-call with him at one point when I was a child.
That kind of personal commitment to patients’ health is a rare thing nowadays. He even does something that most doctors would never do – gives out his personal home phone number. His commitment to healthcare is so much that, when my parents built their “new” house over 20 years ago, he made sure that one corner of it featured a small waiting room and exam room. This, so that patients who needed a doctor in the middle of the night but couldn’t afford the ER, or who needed to be seen on his one “day off” (which wasn’t truly an entire “day” off) could make the drive to our house and be seen there. That’s commitment.
I once asked him why he wanted to open a medical practice “way out in the boonies”. I may be misremembering, but to the best of my recollection, he said that the reason why he opened his practice there was because it was where there was the greatest need. Its a poor county with high rates of drop-outs, unemployment, drug abuse, and a lot of the population on Medicaid and Medicare. His office has been broken into at least 3 times, and yet he stays. Even now, 30 years after starting his practice, he’s still the only doctor in a largely rural area – most have remained at clinics in the larger towns and cities.
One of the reasons for his success is his nurse practitioners. As a nurse, the fact that my dad has a high opinion of NPs means a lot to me, and I know that his NPs are appreciated. I can remember when he first started hiring NPs – he went through 2 who were a little gruff, to put it lightly. He quickly realized something that I was later told by my last ER nurse manager: “There are good nurses, and there are bad nurses. A nurse with amazing clinical skills, but with a bad personality, is not a good nurse”. Same thing with NPs.
The other facet of this successful practice is his office ladies. These women are just as committed to the practice as my dad, and working with them was such a pleasure! They made work enjoyable and had great attitudes – I consider them family friends. They know each and every patient both as a client and, more often than not, as a member of their community. The office couldn’t run without them.
I’m proud of my dad, and I think its wonderful that he’s getting this recognition. He would say that he’s just doing what he’s always done. He’s worked hard in the area of rural health, making sure that quality, preventative healthcare is available where its needed, not just in big cities. Congratulations, Dad!
***If you have any interest in reading about rural healthcare in America, then I would suggest three books written by a retired Minnesota family practice doctor who practiced during the 1940s – 1970s: “A Country Doctor’s Casebook: Tales from the Northwoods”, “A Country Doctor’s Chronicle: Further Tales from the Northwoods”, and “A Country Doctor’s Journal: Amazing Stories from Incredible Situations”, all by R. A. MacDonald, M.D. Even those of you who aren’t in the medical field will find these stories and anecdotes interesting, entertaining, and heartwarming!***