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Featured Clinician: Ije Akunyili, MD, MPA, FACEP

Posted on Mon, Feb 06, 2017

The heart and soul of our practice are our clinicians. Meet Ije Akunyili, MD, MPA, FACEP, associate medical director at St Mary’s Hospital in Waterbury, Conn.

Years with EmCare: 1 year.

Years practicing medicine: 7 years.
Dr. Ije Akunyili
Why did you decide to become a doctor? Why did you choose your specialty? Medicine is a second career for me. I started off working in economic policy and development for the World Bank. I became a doctor because I felt like I couldn't change the trajectory of world poverty but I could help one patient at a time. I walked into the emergency department my first week in medical school and never looked back.

What career did you want to pursue when you were younger?  I wanted to be President or a Nobel Laureate.

Describe one of your greatest professional accomplishments. My greatest professional accomplishments in medicine have been leading high-functioning teams to transform emergency departments and provide world-class care.

What is in the pockets of your lab coat? My iPhone. It has every medical app you can imagine. I even have an entire copy of Netter’s Anatomy on my phone. 

What would be your ideal category on “Jeopardy”? Before and After.

How do you stay organized at work? I am constantly “running my mental list” – who needs disposition, who is in imminent danger or deterioration, who needs more attention. By placing patients in well-defined lists, I am highly efficient. 

What are your tips for “leaving work at work” and not getting burned out professionally? Schedule your life outside of work the same way you would your life at work. Make your family and hobbies a priority. Allow yourself one unscheduled day every 3 months.

How are you Making Healthcare Work Better®? I continue to push the envelope for excellence in emergency care. I strive to reduce disparities in healthcare and practice evidence-based and cost-efficient medicine.
 
What’s the best advice you’ve received about work or life? The best advice I ever got about life was from my mum, who always reminded me to always work three times as hard, and that the world would never be fair.
 
What do you enjoy outside of work? I am an avid reader, and like every working parent, I spend time with my kids at home and sporting events. I also love to travel and strength train.

What’s your favorite inspirational quote? "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure" by Mariannne Williamson.

What qualities make a successful doctor? I am not only passionate about the science of the human body and disease processes but also about taking care of patients. I love the variety of the human existence I see everyday in the ED.

How would your co-workers describe you? Driven, passionate, intense, hardworking, emotionally connected with patients. Gets things done.

Tell us something that most people at work don't know about you. I once competed in an amateur bodybuilding competition. I didn't win, but it was so much grit, fun and determination.

If you could have dinner with anyone, living or historical, who would you choose and why? My mum, who died two years ago. I would give up everything in the world to have one last dinner with her.  
What’s the most interesting place that you’ve been? Cape Town, South Africa. I lived in South Africa as an undergraduate around the fall of apartheid. I fell in love with Cape Town, the landscape, the melancholy beauty that defies words.

What are you currently reading? I'm reading Bryan Stevenson’s “Just Mercy.” It's a memoir from one of the leading public defenders in our country chronicling the grave human cry for mercy that is our criminal justice system. I'm also concurrently reading a book on ED flow and lean theory.

What’s your favorite TV show? I watch exactly 1 hour of TV every week. No more, no less. And that one hour has to be the show Scandal! When its off season I don’t watch any TV. 

What personal accomplishment are you most proud of? I am most proud of my two beautiful children. They are my lasting legacy to the world.

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Featured Clinician: Pankaj Malhotra, MD

Posted on Mon, Dec 05, 2016
Featured Clinician: Pankaj Malhotra, MD

The heart and soul of our practice are our clinicians. Meet Pankaj Malhotra, MD, regional medical director of the hospital medicine program at Doctors Hospital of Manteca in Manteca, Calif.

Years with EmCare: 3 years.

Years practicing medicine: 13 years.

Why did you decide to become a doctor? Believe it or not, to help people.

Why did you choose your specialty? I chose hospital medicine because it's the best way to practice pure medicine and most satisfying in terms of helping patients.

What career did you want to pursue when you were younger? I wanted to be a design engineer.

Describe one of your greatest professional accomplishments. I’m too humble to describe it.

What is in the pockets of your lab coat? Schedules and physician roster for my sites, car keys, phone.

What would be your ideal category on “Jeopardy”? Common Sense

How do you stay organized at work? I take a lot of notes.

What are your tips for “leaving work at work” and not getting burned out professionally? I treat work as a hobby, not a chore.

How are you Making Healthcare Work Better®? I focus on one patient at a time, keep learning and always involve patients in the decisions.

What’s the best advice you’ve received about work or life? “The glass can be even a quarter full.”

What do you enjoy outside of work? Travelling and family time.

What’s your favorite inspirational quote? Men and steel are alike. When they lose their temper, they lose their worth.

What qualities make a successful doctor? Listening to patients, listening to the parents, listening to the nurses and keeping an open mind.

How would your co-workers describe you? I will let my co-workers answer that question!

If you could have dinner with anyone, living or historical, who would you choose and why? Chanakya, who was a 4th century teacher, philosopher, economist, jurist and royal advisor in India.

What’s the most interesting place that you’ve been? Rome.

What are you currently reading? Jeppesen Private Pilot Manual

What’s your favorite TV show? Malcolm in the Middle

What personal accomplishment are you most proud of? I will let them remain personal.

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Featured Clinician: Ed Eppler, MD, FACEP

Posted on Mon, Aug 08, 2016
Featured Clinician: Ed Eppler, MD, FACEP

The heart and soul of our practice are our clinicians. Meet Ed Eppler, MD, FACEP, an emergency physician in Indianapolis.

Years with EmCare: 3

Years practicing medicine: 20

Why did you decide to become a doctor? Why did you choose your specialty?  I’d like to say that medicine was a lifelong dream to serve others, but in realty I think it’s as simple as both of my parents worked in hospitals while I was growing up, and I followed in my their footsteps. I chose emergency medicine while rotating on a required family practice clerkship and admitting ER patients to our service. It was an instant love affair.

What career did you want to pursue when you were younger? I started college intending to attend law school. The business classes didn’t excite me, and I switched plans toward the end of my sophomore year.

What is in the pockets of your lab coat? Lint, a stethoscope, hospital ID, and scraps of papers with patient lists

What would be your ideal category on “Jeopardy”?  History

How do you stay organized at work? When we’re super busy I use scrap paper with hand written lists of patients with what’s pending.

What’s the best advice you’ve received about work or life? Life and your career is a marathon, not a sprint. Pace yourself personally and professionally. Don’t take the bait of thinking about purchases in terms of “it’s just another shift or two every month.” Keep your bills to a minimum, and experience the freedom of working because you want to, not because you have to.
 
What do you enjoy outside of work? Running and biking, theater shows and music, Netflix lazy days

What qualities make a successful doctor? Hard work, organizational skills, and empathy.  

If you could have dinner with anyone, living or historical, who would you choose and why? Julius Caesar.

What’s the most interesting place that you’ve been? Hiking through Eastern European Alps with my son last summer.

What’s your favorite TV show? Netflix. Is there anything else?

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Featured Clinician: Nicole Haig Jasper, MD

Posted on Mon, Jun 06, 2016
Featured Clinician: Nicole Haig Jasper, MD

The heart and soul of our practice are our clinicians. Meet Nicole Haig Jasper, MD, emergency department medical director at Coliseum Medical Center in Macon, Ga.
 
Years with EmCare: 4

Years practicing medicine: 14
 
Why did you decide to become a doctor? Why did you choose your specialty? I decided to become a physician because I am a “people person” and I have an innate desire to see people happy and healthy. I choose emergency medicine for several reasons. The great lifestyle, when my shift is over I leave work at work, as well as the intensity and the diversity. Emergency medicine is ever changing; it’s like a box of chocolates – never know what you are going to get. I can't really predict what my day is going to be like,  which is a huge factor in what keeps me motivated to go back to the ED each day. I'm also a people person. I love meeting new people every day. I meet their family and friends, hear their stories and learn some of their most intimate details within moments. I love that interaction. But above all, I get immense personal satisfaction when I know I've made a positive difference in the lives of my patients.
 
What career did you want to pursue when you were younger? I always wanted to be a doctor or a professional dancer. My parents advised me I could dance in my free time!
 
Describe one of your greatest professional accomplishments. My most significant professional accomplishment has been stabilizing the emergency department as site medical director at Coliseum Medical Center over the past year. When I began as medical director, the ED was in a state of dismay. The department lacked leadership and organization. Providers worked without guidance, support, feedback or accountability. The pervasive attitude was complacency, and it permeated into every facet of the ED, from patient care to personnel interactions to interdepartmental relations. I was faced with coming into this environment as the outsider – lacking any relationships – for better or worse. I first had to silently observe the department so I could gain some basic understanding of what existed. I did that for 60 days, holding back my innate need to improve things immediately. Simultaneously, I met with my providers, nurses and C-suite to gain their perspective on the good, bad and ugly. Through that effort I laid the groundwork to create mutually interactive relationships built on trust and respect. I really see myself as a catalyst working to affect change. I have learned that working with my different teams through buy-in, engagement and support have been pivotal in affecting the change necessary to take our ED to the next level.
 
What is in the pockets of your lab coat? Gum, peppermints, my reading glasses (although I’m still in denial that I need them!), lip balm, hand lotion, business cards.
 
What would be your ideal category on “Jeopardy”? Exotic ports of call
 
What are your tips for “leaving work at work” and not getting burned out professionally? When you get in the car to drive home, let that be your down time. No phone calls, just decompress. Try not to work more than four days a week. Our careers are intense and will wear on you over time physically, emotionally and psychologically. Also vacation every 3 to 4 months, even if it’s only for a long weekend. That gives you an opportunity to recharge, regroup and keep perspective.
 
How are you “making healthcare work better”? I am making healthcare better by doing my small part sincerely and consistently. I try to give the best care to my patients every day, with a smile! I hope that I inspire other women and mothers to achieve their dreams in medicine and science.
 
What’s the best advice you’ve received about work or life? Remember your true legacy – your family. Work as hard as you can at work, but remember the lives that you will consistently influence for a lifetime are your children's, and they are only children for a brief moment. Always balance family and career.
 
What do you enjoy outside of work? I love to travel, try new extreme activities and eat amazing food!
 
What’s your favorite inspirational quote? The Serenity Prayer.
 
What qualities make you a successful doctor? My love of people, love of life, and drive to make people have healthy, happy lives.
 
How would your co‐workers describe you? Engaging, assertive, energetic.
 
Tell us something that most people at work don't know about you. My parents are from Jamaica and I am a first generation American. My sister and I are the first members of our family to attend an Ivy League college.
 
If you could have dinner with anyone, living or historical, who would you choose and why? I would love to speak with Nelson Mandela. His ability to maintain faith and strength after so many years in prison and then be released and eventually become the president in the same country of oppression is amazing. He ended centuries of apartheid and always had a smile on his face.
 
What’s the most interesting place that you’ve been? Two places: climbing glaciers in Juno, Alaska, and walking the Great Wall in China.
 
What are you currently reading? The Prayer of Jabez by Bruce Wilkinson.
 
What’s your favorite TV show? The Amazing Race.
 
What personal accomplishment are you most proud of? Being a mother of four and a successful physician leader.
 

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Featured Clinician: Daniel Smith, MD

Posted on Wed, May 04, 2016
Featured Clinician: Daniel Smith, MD

The heart and soul of our practice are our clinicians. Meet Dan Smith, MD, anesthesia medical director at Gulf Pointe Surgery Center in Port Charlotte, Fla.

Years with EmCare: 3

Years practicing medicine: 8

Why did you choose your specialty?  Originally I wanted to become a surgeon, but after my intern year I found I really just liked being in the OR taking care of patients.

What career did you want to pursue when you were younger? I thought I wanted to be a veterinarian but the reality of my allergies to anything with fur changed my mind for me before I even began high school.

Describe one of your greatest professional accomplishments. I’m never very good at these types of questions because I feel a lot of my accomplishments are in the little things that I do every day to tweak my practice to try and keep making it better.

What is in the pockets of your lab coat? What’s a lab coat?

What would be your ideal category on “Jeopardy”? As an avid homebrewer, I would hope to get “Beer Styles” as a category.

How do you stay organized at work? A combination of iPhone reminders, piles on my desk, and friendly reminders from those I work with.

What are your tips for “leaving work at work” and not getting burned out professionally? Try to live and enjoy in whatever moment you are in.

How are you “making healthcare work better”? By constantly making little changes to make the experience better for the next patient. From patient flow and scheduling to adjusting techniques and medications, our team really tries to do what will have the best outcome for the patient and the facility.

What’s the best advice you’ve received about work or life? Our patient population is older and they remind me all of the time to enjoy the life I have now because the “golden years” are not so golden. Because of hearing this so often, I do try to enjoy the little moments in life.

What do you enjoy outside of work? I like to travel with my family and also enjoy my hobby of home brewing.

What’s your favorite inspirational quote? Whether you think you can or cannot; you are correct.

What qualities make a successful doctor? I like to think it’s my ability to relate with most people in a relaxed way.

How would your co-workers describe you? I wasn't sure, so I asked. I got answers such as approachable, ever-present, no drama, and calm under stress.

Tell us something that most people at work don't know about you. I think I’m more introspective than most people realize.

What’s the most interesting place that you’ve been? I’m not sure. Usually it’s not the place that I find interesting but the people that are there.

What are you currently reading? “Radical Brewing” by Randy Mosher

What’s your favorite TV show? Lately I like watching post-apocalyptic shows such as “The Walking Dead.” Despite the gore, I like that it makes me think about what I would do under the circumstances presented.

What personal accomplishment are you most proud of? My kids. They are boy/girl twins who just turned 7 and I love seeing them grow and develop into their own.

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