When I first made the choice to seek out others who’d made a choice that created a ripple effect, Pamela Wible, a family practitioner, was my first connection. She’d became disillusioned with the industrialization of the healthcare industry and assembly-line medical care and chose to create an ideal medical clinic where she could put the patient in charge.
“I’m opening a clinic that’ll be designed by you.” she told her patients. “Tell me what you want, tell me your wildest dreams.” And, they did. One hundred testimonies worth.
Pamela brought their dreams to life in the first ideal medical clinic in the US where she began providing her patients with a human scale experience. Her choice led to a movement where other doctors are applying her model to bring ideal medical care to their patients across the country.
Here are some snippets of our conversation and you can listen to the full podcast here.
What was it about your past medical jobs that caused you to feel disillusioned with the medical industry?
Over the years I worked in a variety of medical practices from a community health center to a multi-specialty group to a small private practice to a hospital-owned clinic and they were all assembly-line medicine – meet with a patient quickly and get them out the door to meet with the next. I hated the insanity of the medical system. No matter which job I had, it was too much for my soul to take. I was angry, as were my patients. I’m very creative, a great doctor and ready to go but the system destroyed my mental health and stole my soul and my dream.
What led you to make the choice to create an ideal medical clinic?
I was deeply depressed, frustrated and suicidal about ten years ago. The gift of being suicidal was that I could surrender because I didn’t care if I lived or died. It was incredibly painful to be a healer who couldn’t heal. I had a key moment of awakening when I realized that I didn’t have to do this by myself, I couldn’t solve this big problem on my own. So, I put the end user, my patients, in charge.
What did that look like for you?
I invited them to design their own medical clinic. I said “I’m opening an ideal medical clinic next month and it’ll be designed by you so tell me what you want. Tell me your wildest dreams.” And, they did. I got over a hundred pages of testimony and their resounding request was that they wanted a human scale experience. They wanted to be loved and nurtured by someone who felt like their mom but was a doctor. They wanted attention. Nothing they described was what we have now. No one asked for phone trees, or physician’s assistants, or being a number or having to deal with insurance cards.
Tell me more about what transpired after you made your choice and began your clinic.
As I had a healthier job, I could model healthy behavior. I’ve encouraged other doctors to open clinics, it’s becoming a movement. My clinic is like the underground railroad, it’s giving hope to other suffering doctors. They feel liberated and deserving of creating their own clinic, and to date there are over one hundred across the country. I’ve spoken a lot and developed a cult following with my grassroots efforts and now my goal is to really create a mass movement and a paradigm shift. I want ideal medical clinics to be the norm in the medical industry.
What are some of the challenges you encounter as you look to create a mass cultural movement?
It’s very challenging when doctors are not empowered. There’s a growing suicide rate amongst physicians and I’m bringing awareness of this issue into the light. People need to understand how hard it is for a doctor to deal with their pain of seeing suffering while working in a medical assembly line. The other issue is that people are apathetic. Just having the information doesn’t make them take action.
What are some of the actions you’re taking to get even greater visibility into your efforts?
Well, I speak all the time. I speak to medical students and get standing ovations. Moreover, I now lead retreats where I teach doctors how to design their own clinics. I also educate doctors about the business side of medicine. Truth is I need a bigger following. I’ve created a ripple effect, I just need a giant wave.
Check out her TED talk.