When she isn’t attending to patients or grappling with the latest update to electronic health records (EHR), Midori Larrabee, MD, is getting her hands dirty.
Dr. Larrabee, a former hospitalist medical director at the 30-bed Valley General Hospital in Monroe, Wash., and her husband live on 2.5 acres of “paradise” outside of Seattle. They grow their own vegetables and recently planted an orchard. “We hope to get chickens next year,” she says.
“I love cooking and spending time with my husband, enjoying our little paradise,” says Dr. Larrabee, now working full-time as a hospitalist at 349-bed Overlake Medical Center in Bellevue, Wash. “I think being a hospitalist will only be sustainable if I have time away from the hospital to think about non-medical issues—like what worm is eating my radishes.”
Leisure-time passions aside, Dr. Larrabee chose HM for many of the same reasons hospitalists around the country do: “a variety of patients, the acuity of care, and the flexibility of the schedule. With half of the month off, I have time for activities other than clinical medicine.”
She considers herself a problem solver, using both sides of the brain to care for patients, mitigate staff schedules, and contribute to quality improvement projects.
“Initially, I was attracted to medicine due to my interest in biochemistry and the physiology of how we function,” says Dr. Larrabee, one of nine new members of Team Hospitalist, the volunteer, editorial advisory group for The Hospitalist. “As I’ve grown up, I started to see the value in being a part of patients/families’ lives during an event like a hospitalization. I can use my knowledge to help guide them, educate them, and, hopefully, reassure them during a time when they may feel helpless.”
Question: How did you decide to become a hospitalist?
Answer: I decided to become a hospitalist during residency. Even though the ward months were grueling, I loved being part of an inpatient team and managing the variety of patients that came through the door. I liked all of my subspecialty rotations but didn’t want to lose the ability to manage multiple diseases. Also, I liked dealing with sicker patients where more acute decisions had to be made and the results were quickly evident.
Q: Outside of patient care, tell me about your career interests?
A: I am on the P&T committee at (Overlake), and work as part of a team developing projects to improve patient satisfaction during their hospitalization. During the summers I perform evaluations of local medic students at the end of their training program (done through the Seattle Fire Department). I have previously been on the Medical Executive Committee at my smaller hospital and really enjoyed those activities. I would like to be more involved in quality projects at my hospital and hopefully will find some opportunities in the next year.
Even though the ward months were grueling, I loved being part of an inpatient team and managing the variety of patients that came through the door. I liked all of my subspecialty rotations but didn’t want to lose the ability to manage multiple diseases.
Q: What’s the best advice you ever received?
A: Make yourself happy. If you keep coming back to the question “Am I happy?” you can always have a way to center yourself. If you say “Yes,” then you can feel good about where you are in life, even if that wasn’t what you were expecting or planning. If you say “No,” then at least you now know that something needs to change.