I was a Kaiser physician for decades, and I knew it was time to move on. As a cardiologist, the demands of the job and the engagement you need to have, you kind of have to be an adrenaline junkie. I wasn’t ready to give that up entirely, but wanted to work 2-3 days/week.
One of my friends told me about the Encore Physicians program, where retired physicians are matched with community health centers delivering care to underserved populations in a part-time capacity for one year.
I reached out to Gerald Bourne, who manages the program, and was put in contact with a health group in Fremont, California, near where I live. I retired from Kaiser at the end of September last year and started working as an Encore Physician almost immediately. Enough with the time off — a week is good.
Before the pandemic, I had a fairly robust practice where I was seeing patients at the clinic two days a week. Each one brought a different story, and these are people who truly need good health care. I was also really enjoying mentoring the nurse practitioners during their one-year residency. That’s one of the best parts of the job.
Because of my age, I transitioned to telemedicine in late April. But, after several months, I started going to the clinic one day a week. I wear a mask and I’m careful. I just missed the social interaction. And, while I can handle hypertension management over the phone, telehealth isn’t great for the more severe cases.
Covid-19 has made me understand the importance of the work I’m doing here. People who get really sick with Covid-19 are often people who haven’t been getting good quality health care. I’m trying to improve health care for those who might be more susceptible. That makes me feel good, and like I have a greater sense of purpose because it’s so clear right now how important this is.
There’s honor in seeing these patients. My year-long term ended in October, but I’m staying on month-by-month because I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed the practice of medicine as much as I do now. There’s an enjoyment in going to work that’s new to me.
— Ethan Daniels, Encore Physician