What's the biggest barrier to practicing medicine today? Loops of complexity between the provider and the patient that interfere with most medical encounters, Jodi Ritsch, MD, a family physician in Menomonie, Wis., said in response to one of 10 questions MedPage Today is asking thought leaders in medicine.
Ritsch earned her medical degree at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, and completed her residency training at the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire family medicine program. She is board certified in family medicine and integrative holistic medicine.
She practiced family medicine for 15 years at Mayo Clinic Health System -- Eau Claire and started a private, direct-pay primary care practice, The Joyful Doc Clinic, in 2013.
In addition to her medical practice, Ritsch described herself as "a wife to a wonderful man and mother of four amazing teenagers." She also is a certified leader of Laughter Yoga, and a Guiding Mindful Change life coach.
1.What's the biggest barrier to practicing medicine today?
Loops of complexity between the provider and the patient that interfere with most medical encounters. Direct-pay clinics help to eliminate many of these frustrations by simplifying the experience.
2. What is your most vivid memory involving a patient who could not afford to pay for healthcare (or meds, tests, etc.) and how did you respond?
In my previous big clinic job, I rarely knew the cost of tests until patients let me know. I had little control over what a person was charged and never knew for sure what they would be left with for a bill.
Now, in my small direct-pay clinic I can exchange visits for anything or nothing, which is freeing and terrifying at the same time because I want to be generous, but I also want to thrive in business. Right now, I donate 10% to charities in my local community as a part of advertising with a bigger purpose.
3. What do you most often wish you could say to patients, but don't?
Let go of all the fear of what could be wrong with your body and be grateful for all the things that are working well. Love yourself and your body.
4. If you could change or eliminate something about the healthcare system, what would it be?
Complexity! Patients and healthcare workers are totally overwhelmed by all the complexity and apathy is often the result. That doesn't serve anyone well.
5. What is the most important piece of advice for students or clinicians just starting out today?
Spend time with your friends and family whenever possible. Those connections will support you during the times of stress and times of celebration. Make time for fun! A full life makes you a better clinician and communicator.
6. What is your "elevator" pitch to persuade someone to pursue a career in medicine?
If your soul calling is to heal, medicine opens many doors. People let you into their lives and are appreciative of your help. If you think medicine is a stable choice for a lucrative career, I am confident you can make more money with less frustration doing other work in the world.
7. What is the most rewarding aspect of being a clinician?
Times when you know you have made a difference in the life of another person.
8. What is the most memorable research published since you became a clinician and why?
David Rakel, MD, at University of Wisconsin [in Madison] published a study on the importance of relating to patients and not just staring at the computer during a visit.
Patients with cold symptoms were randomized between [standard care or an enhanced physician visit with the clinician expressing empathy]. You can guess which group felt better faster, but the fascinating thing is how the group that did not come to clinic was better faster than patients seen by the provider that only stared at the computer. Focusing on the relationship with the patient is an exciting frontier of medicine.
9. Do you have a favorite medical-themed book, movie or TV show?
"The Mindy Project" TV show: it's hilarious and nothing like my life.
10. What is your advice to other clinicians on how to avoid burnout?
Rekindle the passion you once had for healing. If you can find higher meaning and purpose in the calling of medicine, the daily annoyances are less of an issue. Spend time on healing yourself. Enjoy life and practice gratitude. The more joyful you are the better care you can offer others.
Dr. Jodi Ritsch is board certified in Family Medicine and Integrative Holistic Medicine. She’s a proud graduate of the Medical College of Wisconsin and completed her residency in Eau Claire. She previously cared for patients at Mayo Clinic Eau Claire and was also the distinguished Medical Director of Employee Wellness from 2012 to 2013. Dr. Ritsch has also attended more than 500 births in her more than 11 years of doing obstetrics. The Joyful Doc Clinic offers direct pay visits at our clinics in Menomonie and Eau Claire, Wisconsin.