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Dr. Pho of KevinMD Talks About His Path and Medicine Today

Session 118

Dr. Pho of KevinMD Talks About His Path and Medicine Today

Today’s special guest is Dr. Kevin Pho, the genius behind KevinMD.com, an awesome, collaborative blog. KevinMD allows physicians, residents, medical students, premed students, patients, and just about anybody involved in the health care world to share their voice and talk about their struggles.

Today, Kevin talks about why and how he started his blog KevinMD.com. He also talks about today’s health care landscape and why students are eager to get into medical school (despite all these complaints from physicians), how the Affordable Care Act has changed his practice, and what premeds need to know about it.

Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.

KevinMD: Social Media’s Leading Physician Voice

If you’ve listened to us before, some of the articles we’ve tackled were actually found on KevinMD.com. In last week’s episode, we featured Dr. Tom Peteet, who has written some articles on KevinMD. I, too, have written some articles on KevinMD.

In episode 112, we talked about an article on KevinMD called “There Was a Time When Doctors Were Doctors,” written by a physician who was venting about what life is like as a physician (which we had numerous counterpoints to).

KevinMD allows physicians, residents, medical students, premed students, and patients to share their voice and talk about their struggles.Click To Tweet

Dr. Pho’s “Aha! Moment” When He Realized He Wanted to Be a Doctor

  • Wanted to be a doctor back in high school
  • The cliche of making a difference in people’s lives
  • Being influenced by his mom who was a medical technologist
  • Thinking that a career in medicine is the best way to impact people’s lives
  • High school in Canada
  • Undergrad and medical school at Boston University

Residency at Boston University in Internal Medicine

Dr. Pho is now an internal medicine physician, working in a group practice with 3 other physicians at a hospital-owned practice.

Taking a Combined Program at Boston University

  • He took a 7-year BS/MD program.
    • It’s a great option for people who already know they want to go to medical school.
  • Worked with 40-50 people with similar interests, getting support from his peers.

Dealing with Physician Burnout:

  • KevinMD.com talks about physician burnout all the time
  • A taboo topic within the halls of medicine
Physician burnout remains a taboo topic within the halls of medicine.Click To Tweet

Are the New Work Hour Restrictions Good or Bad for Medicine?

  • Multiple studies showing that limiting work hours in residency doesn’t necessarily improve patient care or reduce medical errors.
  • There has to be a balance between reducing the time spent in a hospital and ensuring that physicians are well-prepared when they graduate.

Why Do So Many Students Keep Applying for Medical School?

  • It’s a rewarding career.
  • The bond you form with patients is a bond you rarely get with other professions.
  • Medicine has high job security.
  • Young people want to make a difference in society.

[Related episode: Why You Should Still Consider a Career in Medicine.]

If You Go into Medicine Purely for the Money

  • You will be disappointed. There are much better ways to make money than medicine.
  • You have to go to medical school for the right reasons.
There are much better ways to make money than medicine.Click To Tweet

[Related episodes: 5 Reasons to Go to Medical School, and 5 Not To.]

Dr. Pho’s Typical Day as an Internal Medicine Physician

  • 4:30 am – 7am: Waking up early, reading and editing articles submitted to him and posted on his site
  • 8am – 12pm / 1pm – 5pm: Clinic sessions
  • Sees about 15-20 patients a day at a primary care office.
  • 6 pm: Arrives home, spends time with his family, and does social media afterward until he goes to bed.

Having Interest Outside of Medicine

  • In his case, social media invigorates what he does.
  • You have to have some type of interest outside of health care to keep yourself going.
As a physician, you have to have some type of interest outside of health care to keep yourself going.Click To Tweet

On Obamacare/Affordable Care Act

  • Highly politicized
  • It makes health insurance more affordable and more accessible to those who didn’t have it.
  • It expands Medicaid: Now there are more Medicaid patients.
  • As a whole, it’s a pretty moderate reform to the country’s health insurance system.

Dealing with Social Media

  • You can’t avoid social media.
  • As Dr. Vartabedian said, this is the “first generation of digital natives.”
  • Premed and medical students have grown up on social media.
  • Health care is always 5-10 years behind any other industry when it comes to technology, and this includes social media.
  • Some hospitals and doctors still view social media from a perspective of risk.
  • Use social media to make your voice heard because it is an equalizing factor. And use the platform wisely.
  • Learn about how medicine is run.
  • Sharpen your voice so you will be heard when you see all the things that could be improved in health care today.
Health care is always 5-10 years behind any other industry when it comes to technology, and this includes social media.Click To Tweet

The Power of Social Media

  • Kevin seeks to present social media in a more positive light.
  • It gives physicians a voice in the rapidly changing health care system.
  • It has influence and it drives change.
Social media gives physicians a voice in the rapidly changing health care system.Click To Tweet

Dr. Pho’s Rule of Thumb for Writing Articles

The Elevator Test: Don’t post anything online that you wouldn’t say aloud in a crowded hospital elevator.

[Related episode: Why Should I Be Careful on Social Media?]

What He Wishes He Knew as a Premed/Med Student

  • The importance of having a voice
  • Learning more about the business of medicine: behind-the-scenes, health care policy, etc.

Submitting Articles on KevinMD to Get Your Voice Heard

  • Sharing stories of those who are challenging the health care system but aren’t often heard from
  • Amplifying the voices of practicing clinicians who are not professional writers or don’t appear on television but have powerful stories they need to share
  • Showing the human side of medicine
  • Discussing difficult issues (behavioral health, physician burnout and suicide, and other topics that don’t get a lot of attention from mainstream media publications)

If you’re interested in contributing an article to KevinMD, visit this page.

What Drives Dr. Pho to Do What He Does Every Day

  • “If I don’t do it, who will?”
  • Having health insurance is not the same as having access to a doctor.
  • The shortage of primary care physicians in Massachusetts means that a lot of patients won’t necessarily have a primary care doctor if he’s not there for them.
Having health insurance is not the same as having access to a doctor.Click To Tweet

Essential Resources for Premed/Medical Students

  • Leverage your online tools into your professional lives.
  • Dr. Vartabedian’s book: The Public Physician

Some Pieces of Advice for Premed Students

  • Medicine can be consuming, so strive to find balance and set boundaries to avoid burnout.
  • Don’t be afraid of saying “I don’t know.”
Medicine can be consuming, so strive to find balance and set boundaries to avoid burnout.Click To Tweet

Links and Other Resources

Listen to Other Episodes

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