Health Simplified And Expanded Back To School

Health Care September 2019 PREMIUM
As has become customary in late August and early September, social media feeds are filled with “first day of school” pictures.

I couldn’t resist the urge to join in on this cultural trend and post my OWN tongue-in-cheek “first day” picture as I celebrate starting what I hope to be my new forever job as the medical director at St. Bonaventure University’s Center for Student Wellness. After spending a year on the road as a locum and Urgent Care Physician, it feels good to set down roots. 

Prior to July of 2018, I had been struggling with Physician burnout.  For every 15 minutes I spent with a Patient, I often spent an additional 30 minutes (sometimes more) on my work laptop, clicking away in an EHR that created a pages-long document that didn’t tell my Patient’s story, and that very few read.  I was trained to be a medical detective, and my documentation style is very different from the “note bloat” produced by most systems. EHRs are designed to comply with complicated and burdensome billing requirements, and do very little to enhance and facilitate Patient care and communication. 

I found myself constantly angry with administration, frustrated with insurance and middlemen, and upset at the ever-increasing regulations that interfered with the oath of “Do No Harm.”  I joined forces with like-minded grassroots Physician advocates and decided to combat burnout with action. 

For the past year and a half, I have taken my medical sleuthing skills on the road and have been working at a variety of jobs in order to understand how different Medicine is being practiced in a variety of locations. My “home” base has been the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia where I have been working as an Urgent Care pediatrician 7-8 days per month. The remainder of the month was spent traveling as a covering locum pediatrician, working all over the country, and as a telemedicine Physician.

When I heard about an unexpected vacancy for the medical director position at a university health clinic, I jumped at the chance. At Bonas I practice Medicine in its purest form: I take a simple history of present illness (HPI) and write a simple note with the four elements that make up a SOAP note. I coordinate care with the students’ primary care Physicians and specialists, as well as work with coaches and trainers. As a clinic we are compliant with privacy regulations, and we practice evidence-based Medicine, but we don’t have to click useless “yes/no” boxes to prove that we are meeting the standards of care. 

St. Bonaventure has always had combined-degree programs, which grant talented high school seniors provisional acceptance into medical school upon entry to the university. In 2016, they created the School of Health Professions and are committed to training nurses, and in 2021, they plan to accept their first group of students who plan to become Physician Assistants. 

I am excited to be a part of a forward-thinking institution of higher learning that is committed philosophically to team-based, Physician-led collaborative care. 

Bonas feels like “home.” The physical space is reminiscent of my childhood parochial elementary and high school education with its cinder-blocked walls and speckled granite floors; the students, faculty and support staff are amongst the friendliest humans I have ever met...and there is the added bonus that unlike my pre-collegiate education, I don’t have to wear a plaid uniform! 

For the first time in our Physician Outlook section, we’re featuring the Doc-Related comic strip, which is by Dr. Peter Valenzuela.  More of Dr. Valenzuela’s comic is available at and Dr. Valenzuela was featured on the Docs Outside The Box – Ordinary Doctors Doing Extraordinary Things podcast

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