Posts Tagged: medicine

Amy Veronneau

Why I joined Iora – A Nurse’s story

As a Registered Nurse, I have played many roles in multiple hospital systems throughout my career. When I worked as a Float Pool Nurse, I supported a multitude of nursing floors, chronic conditions and environments. I discovered that although the hospital is intended to be a place for healing, there are many problems: when a patient is in pain, we push pain medication, and when we see a patient with a chronic condition, we put a Band-Aid on them with medications and temporary interventions—without always taking the time to find the underlying cause. The intentions are good, but the execution is poor, especially when nurses are given so many patients that we aren’t allotted the time to provide adequate education, let alone understand the entire patient situation.

After much frustration with a broken hospital system, I found Iora Primary Care. At Iora, our mission is to restore humanity to health care… and this is so much more than just a slogan. Everyone at Iora takes action to make a difference in the lives of our patients. The patients have longer initial visits with us, where team members spend time with the patient to understand the patient’s goals, desires, support system, and comfort with his/her illness, and we then provide education. We share the medical chart with the patient—which is unheard of at other institutions!

I have finally found a place where I can make a difference….not through pushing medications or through the agenda of the institution I work for, but by working with the patients to help them live their fullest and healthiest lives. I couldn’t be happier as a Nurse at Iora Primary Care.

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A Second Shot at a Second Career

Medicine is a second career for me. I was previously a chemical engineer, but figured out quickly that I wanted a job that allowed me to develop true relationships with others. When I decided to go to medical school, I knew that I wanted to be a primary care physician so I could care for the whole patient, understanding all of the factors that affect their health.

After I completed my residency, I worked for a large outpatient hospital. Each day I fielded complaints from patients about short visits or the fact that they had to have a different appointment for every concern. I was met with the truth that medicine didn’t actually feel like it was about caring for patients–rather, it was seeing over 20 patients a day, in 10-to-15 minute visits. Only seven years after residency, I was debating leaving it all behind.  

In the process of looking for a new job, I posted my resume on physician recruiter sites. I received multiple calls and emails–none of which I answered. Then one day, on my lunch break while eating a protein bar at my desk, I surprisingly answered a call that I knew was from a recruiter. I listened carefully to the man on the other end of the phone as he spoke about a company that was opening new practices in the Denver area; a company that focused on building relationships; a company that wanted to restore humanity to healthcare. That phone call changed my life–I felt like I was getting a second shot at having the career I’d dreamed of.

I went to Denver to interview with the team and very vividly remember the Denver Medical Director telling me: “This job will be more different than you can even imagine.” I visited one of the clinics and got to experience my first morning “huddle”–a team sitting around a table discussing which patients they were concerned about, who was going to follow up on which items, and the strategy for taking care of all patients coming in that day. I shadowed Health Coach visits with patients (without a doctor present) and saw them talk to people about their health concerns, but also listen to their fears, accomplishments, and goals.

I started working for Iora eight months ago and it is hard to describe how much my life has changed. I am part of an amazing team where every person has an important role in patient care. We have time to build relationships so we can understand patient’s health goals, life goals, and the barriers that keep those goals from being reached. We try to activate the patient to become the owner of their health and I no longer strive to see more patients in a day–I strive to take the best possible care of my patients. I went from wanting to leave the practice of medicine, to wanting to change the practice of medicine. To this day, I am still not sure what possessed me to answer that recruiter’s phone call, but I am grateful each day that I did.   

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Joy in Practice…No More Sunday Scaries!

One Sunday evening about a year ago I was cleaning the kitchen after a family dinner and having a conversation with my daughter. My daughter is typically an energetic, high-spirited individual and was particularly quiet this evening.  

“Are you feeling okay?” I asked.  

She responded with a sigh and shrugged. ”I’m fine, I just have the Sunday scaries!”

This term was unfamiliar to me so I followed up with, “What exactly are Sunday scaries?”

Without hesitation she responded, ”It happens every Sunday around 5 o’clock when you realize that the weekend is over and you have to go to work in the morning.”

My initial response of laughter was quickly overshadowed by sadness that I, too, had the Sunday scaries. Or, more importantly, the realization that I had always had them and hadn’t known it.  As a nurse I have always loved what I do for a living, but at that point in time the joy I felt for what I did for a living didn’t align with my day-to-day job. Little did I know that a few months later everything would change.

Enter Iora.  

On November 12, 2015 I began my journey to transform health care. The following day I boarded a plane and headed to the All Iora Retreat (AIR) in New Hampshire followed by several days of training at the Nest (the affectionate name for our headquarters). Unknowingly, those six days were the introduction to the experience of “joy in practice” and the beginning of the end of Sunday scaries.

At AIR I learned that one of the nine drivers of the Iora business model is joy in practice.  In 2013, Andrew Schutzbank, VP of Product Development, coauthored an article that highlighted 23 high-functioning primary care practices.  The article focused on physicians and the need to mitigate burnout.  Primary care practices were identified based on successful innovations that resulted in high performing teams, which ultimately created joy in practice.

What makes joy of practice possible at Iora is that we veer from the traditional health care model and focus on servant leadership.  Instead of a hierarchical (or “top-down”) model, Iora values equal input from all Care Team members, regardless of “status”.  Servant leaders collaborate with the team, putting team needs as the priority, thus encouraging the team to embrace Iora values and empower them to become high performers. This type of work environment creates a strong sense of ownership by all team members because they feel they have a voice, they’re heard, and are then invested in the outcomes of their work.

The word culture is inserted into conversations on a daily basis.  To Iorans that seven-letter word packs a huge punch and plays a vital role in our joy in practice.  It is the driving force behind the decisions that we make, how we treat each other, and most importantly, how we treat our patients.  Humility, courage, empathy, creativity, and passion are common values shared by all Iorans.  If Joy in Practice had a heart it would be called Culture because at Iora Joy in Practice is not just a catchphrase.  Happy employees are a priority.

One year ago I was educated on the definition of Sunday scaries.  I remember thinking that this was just part of work-life and the main reason that people were so intentional when planning for retirement; they were planning to find their joy.  One year later I can honestly say I have found mine. And guess what? With that realization, my Sunday scaries are no more.