Going to medical school at Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara in Guadalajara, Mexico, could have been too much for Benjamin Frizner, MD, FHM.
Medicine is its own new language, as any first-year can tell you. Throw in learning Spanish? And a new culture? One could be forgiven for not excelling.
Dr. Frizner isn’t one of those people.
“The experience changed my life,” he says. “After I survived the first year, I knew I loved medicine.”
After medical school, Dr. Frizner had to complete a Fifth Pathway program, which formerly allowed students who completed four years at a foreign medical school to finish supervised clinical work at a U.S. medical school and become eligible as a U.S. resident.
He learned of hospital medicine during his residency at York Hospital in York, Pa., and, despite others suggesting hospital medicine was “something to do before you really figure out your career,” he enjoyed both working within the hospital walls and having a schedule that allowed 15 shifts a month and commensurate time off.
But as with his shift from undergraduate school in suburban Maryland to medical school in Mexico, Dr. Frizner likes a new challenge. So after a four-year stint as director of the hospitalist program at Saint Agnes Hospital in Baltimore, he took a job in August 2015 as director of the Ventilator Unit at FutureCare Irvington, a post-acute-care center in Baltimore staffed by CEP America.
“Post-acute care has become a new passion and chapter in my career,” he says, adding, “Skilled nursing facilities are extensions of the acute-care hospital and are just as challenging and fulfilling as hospitalist work.”
It’s a perspective Dr. Frizner will bring as one of eight new members of Team Hospitalist, The Hospitalist’s volunteer editorial advisory board.
Question: Why did you choose a career in medicine?
Answer: I enjoyed math and biology in college. I started out thinking I would be an engineer but fell in love with anatomy. I like solving problems and working with people. Internal medicine/hospital medicine is a perfect match, working to solve a patient’s diagnosis and helping families make difficult decisions about placement and palliative care.
Q: What do you like most about working as a hospitalist?
A: Interacting with all the different specialties, social work, case management, residents, ED docs. I really enjoy the camaraderie.
Q: What do you dislike most?
A: Hospital groups contribute immensely to patient flow, care, quality, process improvement, throughput, but hospitals always advertise the new specialist and never the excellent hospitalist group.
Q: What’s the best advice you ever received?
A: No matter what, do what is best for the patient. Everything else will take care of itself.
Q: What’s the worst advice you ever received?
A: Don’t worry about the contract; you don’t need to really look it over.
Q: What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in HM in your career?
A: The pace of medicine continues to speed up. Residents have to hit the ground running with baseline case-management knowledge.
Q: What’s the biggest change you would like to see in HM?
A: I would like to see more hospitalists ascend into senior leadership in hospitals and healthcare systems.
Q: Why should group leaders continue to see patients?
A: It is important to maintain trust and respect with docs you are leading and managing. When I was a hospitalist director, I made sure I worked nights and weekends so I could understand the workload during those shifts and my team felt I was not just dumping on them.