New Chapter, New Beginnings

Life as an attending physician has been everything I had hoped it would be. I’ve been out of residency a year so far and I am loving my job – the autonomy, the colleagues, the patients, the medicine. As always, there are some aspects that aren’t as pleasant to deal with such as scheduling, overnight calls and difficult patient encounters, but on a whole, post-residency life has been good. However, there is one thing I had as a resident that I don’t quite have yet as an attending and that’s clear career goals.

Let me explain. Throughout medical education, there was always a clearly defined goal : graduation. I was willing to put in the effort in mastering my craft because I knew one day I would have to use these skills to help others.

Ten years ago, when I first received my medical school admission letter, I experienced a mixture of joy and relief. The relief was mainly from not worrying about what my future trajectory would look like, I knew more or less my 20s would be spent in medical school and residency to become a doctor.

Having finished those grueling years, I look forward and realize my career in medicine will be many times longer than my training. This leads me to the question, what do I want my career to look like and how will I get there?

There are aspects that I’ve already defined and shaped, with which I am happy about. I am practicing the specialty of my choice (internal medicine). I work in a blended academic and community hospital, having plenty of contact with medical trainees while getting my hands messy with front line care.  I am rewarded handsomely and will be financially secure.

Yet that same feeling of unease and uncertainty about the future that I felt as a pre-med, I feel now as an attending. In Daniel Pink’s book Drive, he argues that human motivation is largely intrinsic and consists of autonomy, mastery, and purpose. The first two aspects come easily in my day to day job. I have lots of control over my clinical work, and there are lots of skills I am continuing to master. However, tt’s the last aspect a purpose, or being part of something bigger, which is on my mind.

Don’t get me wrong, I find a lot of gratification and purpose in my clinical work. I love making the right diagnosis and having the right knowledge and abilities to alleviate suffering. But what I want to know is can I do more, and if so, how can I use my unique abilities to do so?

In my clinical work, I can improve or save a life one at a time, but my time and abilities aren’t scaleable. Would I be satisfied with Talmud’s quote “And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world”, or do I believe I can affect more change.

Ultimately this is mixture of nervousness and excitement. No longer am I bound to a prescribed rigid timeline. I want my career to continue to evolve, what it will eventually look like, I’m not sure yet. But I know I would be extremely disappointed if the next ten years looked identical to my past year. I want to continue to grow, learn more and affect positive change. To keep pushing the boundary, and use my role as a doctor to be part of something bigger.

Agent+ App Review – Billing for Doctors on the Go

One of the contentious topics you don’t learn much about in your transition to staff physician is income and medical billings. At the end of residency, different billing companies and agents often host dinners and info sessions to try to woo you to use their service. It can be quite confusing.

Luckily during my residency I worked with a physician who developed a billing app (Agent+, iOS only) that is intuitively easy to use and caters to the mobile first mentality of new graduates. I currently use Agent+ and think it’s a great product, so I thought a review would be fitting.

The premise is simple: why fill out billing cards to give to your agent when you can get it all done on your phone in real-time. Less hassle, more control of your billings, more earnings for you.

agentapp-animation

Review of the App

Pros:

  • Clean interface
  • Security – have your billings on you at all times and never worry about losing your sheets anymore – unless you lose your phone!
  • The Rounds List feature makes billing on recurring patients simple. I can do my billings for 20+ patients in a few minutes.
  • Search makes finding referring physicians, diagnostic codes. and billing codes quick.
  • Real-time billing – instead of having a lag time of going home to input your billings on a computer program or to give your sheets to an agent, you can submit everything through the app and it’s done.
  • 1% fees – the lowest I’ve seen
  • Helpful support staff

Cons

  • only on iOS currently, Android users will have to wait for the next release
  • Only for OHIP (Ontario Billings)
  • Minor bugs here and there – particularly with the referring physician list. Occasional crashes. But updates are frequent and they have excellent support.
  • Inputting NEW claims can be a bit smoother. Currently takes about 30-45 seconds, but I can’t see why it can’t be trimmed down to half the time with better design.

Conclusion

Mobile apps will be the way of the future for billings. With a rate of 1%, real-time submission and more consistent with our mobile lifestyle, Agent+ provides a great product that will only improve with time.

I would recommend downloading the app (it’s free) and playing with the interface. If you think you may use it in the future, submit a claim before Dec 31, so that you can be locked in to the early-adopters rate. The first claim is waived free anyways. Mention by sharecode TIMC22 to receive two months of billings free.

Disclaimer: I personally use Agent+ for my billing. If you join using my referral (share code TIMC22) – we both receive two months of billings free. 

The End of the Beginning

Source: rkramer62

Source: rkramer62

I started medaholic eight years ago to document my transition into a doctor. It’s been a crazy adventure, but I made it. I’m now a fully licensed doctor in internal medicine.

I’m a much different person now than when I started this journey. Back then, I was fresh out from undergrad, young and optimistic. When I entered medical school, I didn’t know what to expect. Looking back now, medical school was challenging but also fun and filled with happy memories. I made some lifelong friends, some of them, now family.

Residency is when you actually become a doctor. Medical school gives you the tools and prepares you, but residency is when you get to practice and treat patients. You get to live and breathe patient care. You hone your craft and learn to heal people, and most of the time, it has nothing to do with knowledge.

I don’t know what’s to become of medaholic. I have some time to figure it out. I’ve been trying to write something for the last year but all I have is a bunch of saved drafts. I might update some old posts so they remain relevant. But I’m not that interested in MCAT or medical school admissions anymore. My interests have shifted and what used to be an obsession is now an afterthought.

I’ll still reply to emails – that’s one of the highlights, hearing from readers and their successes.

Finally, thanks to everyone who has supported me and have left thoughtful comments and emails. It’s been a pleasure meeting so many people and knowing that I may have helped in some way.

Here’s to the end of my training and to the beginning of being a doctor.

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

Not much time to update these days, but found this excellent blog post that needed to be shared.

http://dharmarajkarthikesan.com/2015/05/09/dear-doctors-be-kind-to-each-other/

Too many times I’ve seen patients turfed from service to service. In the lounges, emergency doctors are ridiculed and colleagues bad-mouthed. Everyone thinks their specialty is the only service that actually looks after patients. This has to stop and everyone needs to be part of it.

I was on call the other night and teaching a soon to be senior-resident, how to survive in her next year. My best advice to her was to “be nice to everyone, not just the patients.”