We are continuing our blog series, Careers in Family Medicine. Each week, I will highlight a family physician and their career path. Each one will share their pearls. So far, we have highlighted examples of Rural Practice, Value Based Care, Academic Medicine, US Department of State, Multi-specialty group and Leadership, and Direct Primary Care. This week, we take a look at working within a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) as highlighted by Dr. Chalie Procknow.
Charlie, give the readers an overview of your career in family medicine.
I am a Family Physician who works doing outpatient medicine with obstetrics. I work at Anchorage Neighborhood Health Center, which is the only FQHC in Anchorage AK.
I am lucky to work at a clinic that supports a broad spectrum of care, and fully embraces the mission of delivering quality care to a culturally and socioeconomically diverse community.
My practice involves three days a week of outpatient family medicine, one day per week doing a mobile homeless outreach clinic at one of our local shelters, and one day a week of obstetric care at our local hospital.
My outpatient practice is broad. The homeless outreach part of my practice focuses on hepatitis and substance abuse care. Adding obstetrics to my practice also brings in lots of newborn and pediatric care, as well as birth control, gynecology (paps, colpos, IUDs etc), and prenatal care.
Our FQHC is a Ryan White site, which means we care for people living with HIV. I do participate in the HIV care, which is a fun and rewarding part of my practice. This is especially fun when it intersects with my other interests of obstetrics and homeless outreach.
Finally, I recently trained in vasectomy care and will be starting to perform these this summer. It is my small way of trying to do what I can to better our post-Roe world.
What lessons did you learn along the way about choosing a job?
Medical school places a lot of influence on making the perfect diagnosis, the perfect treatment choice, or learning to do advanced procedures and implement expensive health care technology in care. However, in my experience, health disparities exist because very simple, easy to perform, and obviously beneficial treatments don’t reach the people who need them most. Our health system won’t be fixed by fancier technology. We need broad implementation of simple, effective screenings and treatments.
In recognizing this, I only ever considered working in a place whose mission is to expand access to care and reach communities who traditionally do not access the health system. For me, my choice was simple, as there is only one FQHC in my home community of Anchorage. I only applied to one job, and here I am!
I simply got lucky that it is such a positive work environment. (I’d be here even if it wasn’t.)
What specific systems or approaches does your FQHC offer that really enhance the joy of working there?
There are two primary reasons that ANHC is an incredible place to work:
1). It is a strongly mission-based organization that absolutely embraces its mission at all levels of the organization.
2). Our administration is supportive of me broadening my practice and expanding my skills. Since graduating residency, I was able to start providing HIV care (I wasn’t trained at this at all during residency), open the mobile medical clinic, and train in vasectomies and begin offering these to our uninsured patients. This was all done with heavy support from our clinic.
What are your favorite parts of your role currently?
I gain the most fulfillment from prenatal care / obstetrics and our mobile homeless outreach clinic. Just last night I had a beautiful delivery of a baby boy to a long-time patient of mine. In the room were 4 generations (after delivery) of this family, all of whom were under my care. We laughed and told stories all throughout the labor. This is the beauty of family medicine!
What specific approaches do you take to enhance your personal and professional fulfillment?
The joy of medicine is in the relationships you foster with patients and their families. I find joy in my job by leaning into my relationships with the people I interact with every day. The more I feel like I know the people I care for (not just their disease processes), the more fulfilled I feel through the workday.
Great! Thank you for taking the time to share your wisdom with the readers!
Charlie is a great example of living life to its fullest inside and outside of medicine. He included photos of just a few of his normal adventures (see below).
Which part did you find most inspiring?
Until then, have a joy-filled week! Tonya