Radiologist Connie Innis, 54, works in a big city — Seattle — and for a large, nonprofit healthcare system — with 900 physicians in total. But it is the tight-knit group of colleagues and connections that makes Washington state a great place for her to practice medicine for the past 15 years.
For you, what is the best part of practicing medicine in the state of Washington?
I think, for me, the best part is really strong collegiality. There are a lot of internationally known physicians and institutions, including the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, affiliated with the University of Washington, Seattle Children's Hospital, [and others], and they are all part of our community.
Many people have grown up here or trained here
often return as they've gotten additional specialty training and everybody knows somebody. Even though it is a big state and big city, it feels extremely collegial. If there is something outside of
my scope or my immediate colleagues' scope, everybody knows
somebody we can call, even on the spot, and know we are taking great care of our patients.
That's coupled with a high standard of continuing medical education (CME) in this state. I recently became aware of this as I was renewing my license. There is a chart showing number of CME hours required per state [per year] and — not to
belittle other states — Washington requires three times more than some other states in terms of hours.
[Editor's Note: Washington state requires 50 hours of CME per year; three times as much as four other U.S. states]
I think it just pushes you to stretch further. It is very easy in a busy life to just do the basics and this is beyond, by comparison anyway, relatively speaking in looking at the U.S., you have to go the extra mile. I'm proud of that. It pushes me and many, many people have far more than even the basic requirement. There's something comforting about it.
Another feature of practicing specifically in the Seattle area, there is a diverse patient population everywhere …all treated with the same high standards. You have very different needs — everything from struggling homeless people in a trauma center to very well-heeled Microsoft employees within the same one-mile radius. It's a real slice of life. I like that diversity.
What, if anything, would you change about the climate for physicians in Washington?
I want to start with the caveat that because I've always worked on a set salary for my entire career, I really have been insulated from the vicissitudes of the business of medicine.
But I do feel the pressure those other physicians and administrators who are dealing with all of the massive amounts of paperwork and regulations. I don't think it is unique to Washington …but that is where the negative lies, in the degree of the cumbersome nature of rules, regulations, and paperwork. It constantly takes so much of our attention.
I admire people [who handle the business of medicine]; all the duties and tasks that infiltrate our work. There are only so many hours in the day and it is dispiriting to not be able to put your attention where you want to put it [with patients].
That's probably everyone's Achilles' heel.
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