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My Journey to Running a Private Practice


A medical practice is quite similar to a patient - it needs care for problems and attention to details to keep it healthy.

This is my first blog, so I would like to introduce myself. I am a co-owner of a pediatric practice in northern Virginia. I have been in the same practice for 20 years and that statement surprises me, because it certainly doesn’t seem like it has been that long! Every day brings new challenges in pediatric medicine and running a large private practice brings even more surprises!

Like any career, there are the good days and then there are the days that can only be described using "potty mouth" words. At least, there are usually more good than not-so-great ones.

When I entered medical school, the one specialty that I was NOT going to enter was pediatrics. My mother’s advice about pediatrics was that kids get sick really fast. As a teenager, I did not babysit, did not have any young cousins, and in fact was not sure that I even liked children (that last part changed). I did not chose pediatrics ….it chose me. Once I got to my pediatric rotations, it fit me like a glove. Learning the pediatric medical material simply didn’t seem like work. And what I can now tell my mother is that even if children get sick quickly, they usually get better just as fast.

I really enjoy dealing with children. Within a one-hour time frame, I can hold a baby, play with a toddler, joke with an elementary age child, and have an "almost-adult" conversation with a teenager. The best part of my job is that I am never bored when it comes to working in the office.

It is a privilege that parents trust me to care for their children. This really strikes me when I am dealing with a 6-year-old or 7-year-old child in the wake of the horrific events in Newtown last December. To think that any one of us could be here today and gone tomorrow gives special meaning to what I can do for my patients and families today.  I am so thankful that these children are here now and very grateful that I can be their doctor. I am happy that these parents have this child to love. I am happy that I get to love this child too.

The business of running a practice is also never boring. There is always some aspect that needs attention. Coding and documentation are critical to prompt payment. Proper scheduling ensures that every provider’s day goes smoothly. Recruiting new staff and providers is a never ending necessity. However, the biggest challenge is dealing with interpersonal relationships.

Over the past few years, I have become much more involved in all these facets of my practice plus many more. A medical practice is quite similar to a patient: it needs care for problems and attention to details to keep it healthy. Any physician that can take care of patients can learn to take care of his/her practice. It is not difficult but like any skill, efficiently running a practice takes knowledge, experience, and patience but most importantly it takes the willingness to try.

Rebecca Fox, MD is the co-owner of a pediatric practice in Northern Virginia. She completed undergraduate and medical education at the University of Kansas and did her pediatric residency at Cornel Medical College.  Fox is interested in yoga, German Shepherd dogs, and is a fiber artist (weaving, knitting and handspinning) who regularly publishes in various weaving magazines.  E-mail her here.

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