ACOFP Women in Leadership Vice Chair Rachel A. Young, DO, shares a day in her life and her different professional roles as core faculty, clinic director, associate program director and physician, among others, as well as her personal roles as wife, daughter and mother-to-be.
By Rachel A. Young, DO; Vice Chair, Women in Leadership Committee; Recipient, 2021 ACOFP New Osteopathic Family Physician of the Year Award
On an ideal day, I begin with a workout or meditation, a smoothie and—my favorite—a homemade Nespresso latte for my commute. During my 45-minute drive to work, I enjoy catching up with medical podcasts, audiobooks, NPR or “music Fridays.” I arrive at work at McLaren Greater Lansing Family Medicine Residency Program around 7:45 am where I serve many roles: core faculty, clinic director (CD), associate program director (APD), attending physician, resident advisor and colleague.
When I took on my position as a core faculty member in a residency clinic, it was important to me to keep learning the practice of medicine. So, I see my own private panel of patients on Monday and Wednesday afternoons, as well as Tuesday and Thursday mornings. I have administrative time during the other parts of the day. Admin time is when I serve in my other roles as CD and APD. Fridays are my teaching day.
On Mondays and Wednesdays, I have morning admin time for my role as our CD. This is filled with operational or leadership meetings, prepping for those meetings, catching up on emails and the impromptu needs of the day. I may meet with the program director or our office manager to work on ongoing projects. For example, we write office policies or proposals to order new equipment for the office. Recently, we have been designing our new clinic. This has been a tremendous undertaking but is also an opportunity to innovate and expand our clinic in new directions for patient care and resident wellness.
On Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, I balance my roles as a faculty member and attending. This is when I prep for patient care and huddle with my medical assistant, respond to patient messages, sign off on documents and labs, and cosign resident notes for my responsibility as a preceptor. Often, I will have meetings with the residents or students I mentor and even fill in for precepting needs. There is time to meet with other faculty members to collaborate on quality improvement projects or have our team meetings.
Fridays are residency focused. I am the preceptor for “Senior Fridays,” where I enjoy educating our soon-to-be graduates about practice management and billing. I worked in private practice for five years before joining the residency, and I’m known for bringing a knowledge of quality measures, accountable care organizations and insurance incentives to my style of teaching. In the afternoon, we have our family medicine didactics, where I might give a lecture or critique one provided by a resident. I enjoy hearing from our specialists who often present lectures that help me stay up-to-date. As the APD and CD, I provide the weekly administrative updates about clinic operations, policy changes, billing updates and quality initiatives.
I commute home sometime after 5 pm most days, enjoying catching up with friends or family or listening to an audiobook for my book club. Once I’m home, my husband and I enjoy cooking together, watching a comedy or cooking show, and spending time with our miniature schnauzer, Winston. We’ve been doing Home Chef since 2015 and have enjoyed expanding our recipe repertoire. Over the past several months, we’ve been preparing for the addition of our first child due in October. This means balancing doctor appointments and experiencing life as a patient myself. On weekends, we care for our home on four acres in the woods, walk in the many parks around our home with our dog, and catch up on the usual “adulting.” We appreciate spending time with our families and friends every chance we get, especially at the lake.
Another role I serve is acting as an advocate for the profession. Several evenings per month, I’ll sign onto a virtual conference call for one of our Michigan organizations (the Michigan Association of Osteopathic Family Physicians [MAOFP] or the Michigan Osteopathic Association [MOA]) or ACOFP, where I am a leader, volunteer, innovator and problem solver. One of my favorite functions right now is chairing the Women of Excellence Committee for MOA, where we are designing the curriculum for a new Women’s Leadership Institute.
A passion of mine is medical advocacy. I’ve been chairing the MAOFP Advocacy Committee for several years. We write ACOFP resolutions, respond to new bills proposed by Michigan legislature and keep our membership up-to-date about changes in health policy that impact their practices. A new and exciting position is serving as a vaccine champion for the “I Vaccinate” campaign. In the past month, I’ve done TV, Facebook Live and radio interviews educating the public about COVID-19 vaccines and the importance of vaccine catch up for all other childhood vaccinations. Our residency program also has a monthly spot on the local TV station where we address a medical topic that is important to the public. It’s a fun way to connect with our community and engage them in their health.
As you can see, being a family physician can look very different for each person. A few years ago, my days were very similar, filled with patient care and then organizational involvement on weeknights. Now, I have the opportunity to incorporate the leadership skills I acquired through those organizations into my day-to-day job as a director. I love that each day is different. It keeps me learning and growing, but also keeps me inspired and excited about the future of medicine. I’m never bored! More administrative time allows me to expand my interest in advocacy. Being a leader in the office allows me to more quickly impact the improvement of the healthcare system, even if it is just through the wellness of our staff and resident physicians. I’m grateful to still balance all this with what brought me to the profession in the first place, practicing family medicine and making a difference in the lives of patients. But now I can take that to the next level by also modeling this for our learners and preparing them for their future careers. I hope that I inspire them to be a positive part of the changes in health care.