As a single mother of three children, I struggled with the challenges of taking care of my family while also trying to further my career as a physician. I was constantly on-call and missing wrestling tournaments or softball games. As my kids got older, the time demands of juggling sports practices and games grew exponentially, and I felt like I was being forced to choose between prioritizing my family or prioritizing my career.
In 2011, I spoke with a colleague who had previously been in a similar position of juggling work life with personal life. This colleague had recently joined RPG and recommended I speak with Dr. Pannu, RPG’s founder. I got in touch with him soon after, and as I listened to him describing the typical life of an RPG physician, I couldn’t believe such a position existed. It would require traveling to small hospitals in remote locations, but in exchange for the travel, I would get the opportunity to be the attending physician for the inpatient service and truly work at the top of my scope of practice. I soon joined RPG and started a schedule working for seven to 10 days per month. Being away from home was difficult, but it also ensured I was completely focused on my work without any distractions such as needing to pick up kids from practices or cooking dinner. After my shifts, I would return home and could then focus 100% of my attention on my family. While I was off-shift, I was essentially a stay-at-home Mom without any work responsibilities. No on-call responsibilities. No meeting requirements. Just home with my children for 20 days each month. In addition to all these benefits, I could pick and choose my schedule regarding days I wanted to work and days I did not. I finally found the perfect work/life balance I had been looking for!
Since joining RPG in October 2011, I have found traveling to different hospitals in different states to be very rewarding. I worked in several locations in Wyoming, Colorado, Montana, and Washington. Experiencing medicine in these different small towns helped me develop my skills as an inpatient attending and expanded my scope by making me more adaptable and skilled. Some hospitals needed stress testing oversight. Some facilities needed assistance with cardiac rehab or infusion clinics. I was even asked to assist in an appendectomy on a weekend. My point is – practicing rural medicine has given me an entirely new outlook on what it means to be a physician. Not only have I expanded my clinical skill set, but I have also had the unique privilege to offer medical care to underserved communities. The combination of clinical growth and personal growth I’ve experienced have been invaluable experiences as a physician, and I have greatly enjoyed my time working for RPG because of this.
Working as an RPG physician, I have witnessed firsthand how medicine in our rural communities has changed over the years. When I initially joined RPG, many hospitals were satisfied with the simple presence of a physician in the hospital to take care of those patients that needed to be admitted. With RPG expanding across the country, we have now developed a focus on quality and excellence as a norm for medical care. Patients are experiencing the same expertise when admitted in a rural setting that they would see in the large city without having to travel hours away from their homes. RPG is making a difference in the care of patients by bringing big-city quality and excellence to towns across rural America, because not only do patients need great care – they deserve it.
-Dr. Sandra Guidry
Chief Medical Officer at RPG