When the work family is wounded

One of the biggest differences of AIM as a hospitalist group compared to most other groups is that AIM truly stands by its mantra of ‘Family First’. As an owner, I want my staff to enjoy coming to work. I still do clinical shifts because I want to get first-hand experiences of what it’s like in the trenches. If I don’t like it, then our staff won’t like it. AIM has always held that concept of ‘work family’ sacred, and would never compromise that ideal. That’s why AIM has a flex schedule & keeps volumes down- so our staff has the time to do a great job & enjoy what they do. We aren’t a high-volume, profit centered company like so many national hospitalist companies have become. Because of that, we have almost zero turnover, which is unheard of in the hospitalist realm.
Consequently, our staff has become quite close. We have been together so long that many of the staff often socialize outside of work, and have time during the day to eat together & chat since the staff isn’t getting overwhelmed. Over time, AIM staff have become a very close unit.
Two weeks ago, our team suffered a tragedy. One of our best & brightest young hospitalists was brutally attacked by her boyfriend who called 911 & then killed himself in her apartment. She suffered multiple CNS bleeds, lacerations, an orbital fracture, and on & on. She was savagely attacked & left for dead. She was recently transferred to a brain trauma unit after receiving a trach & PEG, and will be headed to a rehab center soon. She opens her eyes & at times seems to be more alert & aware, but, unfortunately, not much else. We are all praying for her recovery.
All of us at her hospital site, including myself, have been deeply affected by this sudden loss. She is as bright a personality as you would ever see, and her potential as a hospitalist was only just beginning to show. Simply put, she was one of the hardest working hospitalists & one of the best clinicians that worked at that site, despite being one of the youngest. Her future was without limits. Whether that is still the case is yet to be seen.
The team came together with a fund raiser for her that went well beyond anyone’s expectations. Assisting with her parent’s hotel & meal bills, transportation, and other important expenses has been very rewarding. Her parents clearly felt how much the entire hospitalist team loves her.
As I was reflecting on this sad event, two thoughts came to mind, one professional & one personal. First, AIM was created about 10 years ago to be fundamentally different, to give providers a chance to join a team that truly cared about them and wanted them to be happy & succeed in both their personal & professional lives. There is a great sense of pride in seeing the way the team responded to this tragedy. No one asked how much extra call or how many shifts they were going to have to do. No one asked for anything. All thoughts were of this hospitalist & her family, and that proved what was already known-that this rare notion of treating staff like family works, and it works well. Second, on a personal note, this episode reminds me that you can’t take tomorrow for granted. Family is the most important aspect of our lives, our own family & even our work family as well. It’s way too easy to lose sight of that on a day to day basis. Taking the time to be with our families should never be delayed because you just don’t know what tomorrow will bring. We’re all more keenly aware of that now, and I will continue to treasure each day with my family & friends just a little bit more. We’ll take vacations every year no matter how busy it gets, and leave time for bedtime stories. At Advanced Inpatient Medicine, our fundamental belief of ‘family first’ allows our staff the time to make sure that happens. Get well soon, XXXX. We all miss you.

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