Monday, January 4, 2010

Melissa Young, MD: Thoughts for the new year

As the old year ends and the new one begins, I'm sitting here thinking about how much my life, my career, my goals have changed. Opening a new practice — a solo practice no less — in a time of financial trouble and uncertainty was certainly a new and challenging experience.

I'm about to start my fourth month. Patients are steadily coming in, although not in the droves that I had anticipated. I have started having more follow-up patients come back. My no-show rate has been relatively good, infinitely better than at my old practice. Of course, that probably had a lot to do with how far in advance appointments were being made. Hey, if I made an appointment six months ago, I'd probably forget about it, too.
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My schedule is much less hectic than it was at the old practice. That is much better for my family life and overall sense of satisfaction. Not so great on the pocketbook. Still, my kids are getting older and are starting to have more afterschool activities, and I'm glad to be able to leave my office on time, or even early when necessary and with enough notice. And despite the fact that I technically have no weekends off, there are many weekends that I don't have to go to the hospital, or if I do, it's only for an hour or so, as opposed to the five to six hours I had to work two out of every five weekends.

I have learned a lot about the business side of running a practice. Everything from making sure we never run out of supplies, including but not limited to such mundane things as staples, gloves, and toilet paper, to explaining to a patient that an EOB is not a bill.

No, it has not been an easy transition, but it has been a satisfying one. One quarter of a year down, I'm looking forward to the new year.

Melissa G. Young, MD, FACE, FACP, is an endocrinologist in private practice, an assistant clinical professor at Robert Wood Johnson, and a working suburban mother of two in Freehold, N.J. She is a regular contributor to Practice Notes.

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