It may be a cliché that people pursue a career in medicine because they want to help people. But it’s a cliché for a good reason. Most of us have done exactly that.
For most of us that desire extends beyond the confines of our professional endeavors. Wanting to help people and be of service doesn’t stop with our patients.
When I began working with Docs Who Care in 2005 I knew that my medical career was one of my top priorities, but I also knew that it wasn’t my only priority. Early in my tenure with Docs Who Care I realized one of the great benefits was that I could more easily devote time and energy to multiple areas of my life that I wanted to prioritize.
One of those areas for me is my family. I could still be a good husband and father if I was in a traditional practice setting. But I’ve found the ability to maintain flexibility through my Docs Who Care schedule has allowed me to be even more present on a regular basis in service to the people I love most.
I’ve also felt a strong pull to be of service outside my family and practice settings. Working with Docs Who Care, and having the flexibility it offers, has allowed me to pursue many other service opportunities. For the past decade I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of Camp Hope, a summer camp for children who have or have had cancer.
Not only have I been able to attend the camp for one week each summer without using limited vacation time, but I’ve also been able to become involved in a leadership role in which I can devote time weekly to this cause.
That involves planning camp, but it has also evolved in recent years to helping start and subsequently operate a non-profit. That organization not only sponsors camp, but also provides extended services to families affected by childhood cancer.
Beyond the day-to-day life with my family and my time with Camp Hope, my Docs Who Care schedule has allowed me to be able to provide service as worthy needs have arisen. Whether that’s volunteering at school functions, going on a medical mission trip, or coaching my children’s sports teams, I have the flexibility to be able to serve in a multitude of ways.
Providing service was a key principle in the founding of Docs Who Care. And it continues to be at the heart of what we do and who we are. Not only are we in service to the communities and facilities with whom we partner, but also the structure of our work provides great opportunities to continue our service beyond the professional setting.
For those of us who first pursued medicine because we wanted to help people, it’s comforting to know that Docs Who Care models and fosters that cliché, or rather that ideal, to its core.
We had a chance to sit down with Dr. Daniel LaPerriere near his clinic in Boulder, CO to hear about his experience with Docs Who Care…
Dr. LaPerriere: After I finished my residency I spent a year volunteering as medical director for a health center in a remote area of Ethiopia. When I came back to Colorado I wanted to continue working in a rural area but desired to live in a more urban environment. Some of my colleagues had done work with Docs Who Care, and after hearing about it from them, I thought it would be a good match allowing me to work and live in the areas I wanted.
After working for 9 months with DWC at various sites, Yuma District Hospital in Yuma, CO, negotiated to buy out my DWC contract. I was able to continue living on the Front Range and work in Yuma 3-4 days a week. I worked in Yuma for about 7 years.
About 2 years ago, I took a position at a concierge medical practice in Boulder. While this work is fulfilling, I missed working with patients from the rural community and providing ER care. I reached out to Docs Who Care and once again began covering some shifts.
Supplementing my regular salary with occasional locum tenens has enabled my family and I to pay down loans, open a new hair salon and spa business (My wife is a hair stylist and now salon owner), and build up a down payment for a home in Boulder.
I recall recently sitting with an elderly couple at a rural site; the wife was hospitalized with CHF. She’d had this diagnosis for some time, but they did not understand what was causing it and what the treatments being prescribed were doing. They appreciated their local providers, but these providers are so overwhelmed that they often lack time.
I was able to sit with them and explain what was going on, draw pictures, and answer their questions. They were so appreciative to have a provider who traveled to their community to provide extra help and who could spend extra time with them.
These skills are also valuable in managing my regular clinic patients as I feel better able to make clinical decisions and to evaluate how a patient was treated in the hospital or ER.