“Getting to the Sole of Private Practice”
by Mary Alderson.
Dr. Eric Palmquist attended podiatry school at Dr. William M. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine. After graduating, he completed his residency at the DVA-Palo Alto Health Care System in Palo Alto, California. During this time, he was exposed to all types of practices, which he describes as an advantage.
“We were able to spend time in institutional facilities, including veteran’s hospitals, university hospitals and clinics, Kaiser Permanente hospitals and clinics, community hospitals, surgery centers, and private practices. This made for a very well rounded experience with exposure to all different types of practice opportunities.”
These experiences, along with his upbringing, helped Dr. Palmquist make the decision to run his own practice.
“I grew up on a family farm where my parents were in charge of the business. I felt like I wanted that independent structure to mold my business in a manner that fit with my ideals and values rather than trying to conform to a corporate ideal or work for a large institution.”
Currently, Dr. Palmquist is practicing in Omaha, Nebraska at Momentum Foot and Ankle Wellness. He opened this practice in February of 2015 after working as an associate for two other private practices. He runs a small office, being the only doctor in his practice. He also employs a front desk staff member, a medical nail technician, and a health coach. The front desk staff member handles all of the administrative duties of the office, the medical nail technician provides medical pedicures, and the health coach helps patients navigate their struggles with such things as controlling blood sugars, obesity, hypertension, and stress management.
“Being an independent office is an advantage in the way that I am able to take time off when I feel the need. I can schedule a vacation and not have to answer to any administrator or corporate boss.”
However, one difficulty with being the only doctor in the practice is that Dr. Palmquist is the only one who is able to see patients and provide treatment. This can make it difficult to go on vacation or even leave town for the weekend. Thankfully, Dr. Palmquist works in a podiatry community where he has a very cordial relationship with other podiatrists who is more than willing to help out if there’s an emergency with one of his patients. He, in return, will provide care when the other doctors are unable to be present for their patients.
One concern that Dr. Palmquist had noted from patients in previous practices was where they could go to get a safe pedicure. At the time he wasn’t able to come up with a good answer for them, so he knew when he opened his own practice he would need to come up with a solution. The inspiration to the solution came from other doctors he had trained with during residency and some of his former classmates. These doctors were integrating a medical nail technician into their office to provide medical pedicures. When he opened Momentum Foot and Ankle Wellness, he was able to incorporate medical pedicures.
“This is something that our patients truly appreciate and they tell us on a regular basis that this service makes the practice stand out from any other.”
Another quality of Dr. Palmquist’s practice that he is able to control is the number of patients he sees during the day. He values spending the appropriate amount of time with each patient over the number of patients he is able to see. He tries giving each patient the time they need to feel comfortable knowing their diagnosis and treatment plan going forward. Dr. Palmquist is able to see a wide variety of patients on a daily basis. This includes warts, calluses, at-risk foot care, ingrown toenails, plantar fasciitis, tendinitis, arthritis, bunions, hammertoes, and everything in between. He recalls, “I will never forget the one day when my first patient was only two weeks old and my second patient was 102 years old.”
When looking to build a practice, certain aspects of the community can make an independent private practice more successful. Although he sites that one aspect is a community with an expendable income, he recognizes that healthcare is often sacrificed when patients don’t have the expendable income. Another factor that is important is the ease of access.
“It’s important to make it easy to access your clinic when it is convenient for the patient – whether this is during work hours, being close to home, or being open before or after school. The physical location is also important as this is one of the things that I find our patients appreciate our clinic. We are conveniently located off a major intersection with parking right at our front door.”
On running his own business, Dr. Palmquist states, “Private medical practice is like any other small business. As the owner, you have to know what is going on in your practice on a day-to-day basis. You have to guide employees so they understand your ideas and core values and so they can then represent your practice effectively.”
Just like any other business, it becomes Dr. Palmquist’s responsibility to manage everything from human resource management, equipment and supply ordering, paying the bills, and making sure that the clinic is clean every night since there is no large corporation or set employees to do the non-medical tasks. Although there are some days where he would just like to come in, see patients, and go home, those days are few and far between.
“I enjoy being able to control the way my practice operates and make sure that it fits the ideals and core values that represent my positions and how I feel healthcare should be provided.”
by Mary Alderson.
School: Arizona School of Podiatric Medicine
Special Edition, Surgery, Interview
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