Balancing Business, Service, and Life

June 27, 2011

One of the reasons that I left my former practice to go into solo private practice was my desire for autonomy. I wanted to set my hours, my days off, my schedule. How silly I was to think getting those things would be easy.

One of the reasons that I left my former practice (where I was employed as part of a faculty practice) to go into solo private practice was my desire for autonomy. I wanted to set my hours, my days off, my schedule. What a silly little girl I was! 

Don’t get me wrong. I certainly could see patients four days a week from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. if I wanted to. But that would mean less time to see patients. As it is, they already complain that the wait for an appointment is too long. How long would they have to wait if I cut my hours by 25 percent? So I see patients five days a week, start at 8 a.m. and have a couple of late days. That’s fine.

Well, that’s fine until my biller/husband tells me that I should be seeing more patients.

See, I have set aside an hour and a half or so after lunch to either do rounds or to make phone calls and catch up on paperwork. That time was sacred when I was still solo. Now that I have an associate and we take turns doing rounds, he feels I should fill that time with patients. I do put emergency patients in there from time to time, but when it’s not filled, I use that time to return the four dozen calls I get while I am seeing patients, to obtain prior auths, to write letters, and to deal with the bills and other business matters. If I saw patients during that time, I’d be dealing with all that after hours. Often, I do that too, or I do it on the weekends. If I had to do more of it after hours, I’d never see my kids.

Patients also don’t seem to understand why we don’t have evening or weekend hours, or why I can’t call them back after 6 p.m. with their lab results. Well, I have a life outside the office. I will return any emergency call, no matter what time of day. But family time is family time. Maybe someday when the kids are grown and off to college, then I can turn into a workaholic. Maybe then I can use that extra money, too, to go on vacation and travel, things I can’t do often now because of my obligations to the office anyway. Or maybe I could use it to plan my retirement, because by then, I’ll be exhausted.

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