Why I Became a Wound Care Physician: Transitioning to an Evolving Subspecialty
As is true with many things in life, the expectation and the reality of practicing medicine do not always align. Most physicians enter the field due to a passion for science, an interest in knowing how things work, and the desire to help people. After years of grueling academic preparation and rigorous assessments, however, many doctors find that while practicing medicine does fulfill these desires, it leaves time for little else.
“As a medical student, I don’t think you fully comprehend that at some point you are going to want to have a life and enjoy it,” said Dr. Julie Hutchinson, General Surgeon turned Vohra Wound Physician.
Due to their professional demands, many physicians feel that they do not spend enough time with their family and friends, find it nearly impossible to make concrete plans, and are unable to regularly engage in self-care activities or pursue their passions. Following years of personal sacrifice in favor of academic and then professional gain, doctors hoping to have time for personal lives may realize that their careers simply do not permit it. As a result, many seek change.
Does this sound like you or someone you know?
Some physicians address this by switching careers, while others transition to specialties that spend less time at the hospital or on call. After all, endless work is not only exhausting, but it can hurt personal relationships and foster burnout.
“I couldn’t find any surgeons who used the word ‘happy,’” says Dr. Marlene O’Brien, a trained vascular surgeon who now practices wound care.
Wound care is an increasingly popular option for physicians seeking a new career path.
“When I started to consider changing to a career with a better lifestyle, wound care was a natural choice,” Dr. Hutchinson says.
Dr. Jean Paul Wuilleumier, a physician that trained in general surgery before transitioning to wound care, agrees: “I began to consider wound care after starting to feel the consequences of long work weeks and poor work/life balance were affecting my personal life and well-being.”
Wound care is an emerging subspecialty that involves much of what physicians love about medicine—such as procedural work, continuous education and advancement, and rewarding patient outcomes—without less desirable aspects like the absence of free time and a personal life. “I find great satisfaction in resolving wounds,” shares Dr. Eva Earls, a physician who switched from family practice to wound care. “I worked in a busy clinic for 12 years but prior to that I worked for 15 years in an ER. I now work four days a week with a lot of flexibility in my schedule.”
The skills needed in wound care are seamlessly transferable from many specialties, such as general surgery and family medicine. “I didn’t see wound care as a change of specialties so much as a refinement and focusing of my own general surgery training,” notes Dr. Justin Mahida, who began practicing wound care after training in general surgery.
When considering the change to wound care, Vohra Wound Physicians is a natural choice. Vohra is the nation’s most trusted wound care specialty practice. Founded in 2000, Vohra works with nearly 3,000 skilled nursing facilities nationwide and uses innovative, proprietary methodologies and technologies to provide superior wound healing to patients.
Vohra Physicians benefit from competitive salaries, flexible schedules, and a supportive and established corporate infrastructure that fosters education and keeps the company on the cutting-edge of wound care advancement.
“I have found that the transition from family medicine to wound care with Vohra Wound Physicians has been a rewarding one,” shares Dr. Joseph Maides, a trained family medicine physician who transitioned to Vohra. “I feel fully supported to learn, develop, and succeed as a wound care physician.”
The Allure of Practicing Medicine
When deciding upon a career path, many people are drawn to medicine because of the hands-on work, the potential to change lives, an interest in medical advancements, and the attractive salary. Due to the necessity of healthcare workers, many believe that along with these benefits, physicians also enjoy high levels of autonomy and the power to determine their schedules. This is often not the case. After years of schooling and hundreds of thousands of dollars invested in education – often through loans that entail lengthy repayment plans – many physicians find themselves too busy to enjoy personal lives.
Dr. Julie Hutchinson, who trained in general surgery, found her professional schedule unmanageable. “It was literally impossible to schedule time off and enjoy events with family,” she says, adding, “I loved general surgery, but the constant stress of caring for emergency situations and acutely ill patients is taxing.”
There are many financial and altruistic rewards when working in a hospital setting or group practice, but at what cost? Can physicians in these environments ever achieve true autonomy or work-life balance?
The Challenges of Practicing Medicine
Particularly once physicians have families, the demands of their lifestyles can become unsustainable.
“Two years ago, my dad had major medical issues and I realized that, as a surgery resident, I didn’t have the flexibility to take the time I needed to spend with him and with my family,” shares Dr. Mahida. “To me, this was unacceptable.”
As a result of professional demands, some physicians do not even complete their residencies. In fact, residency attrition is approximately 6%.
Not only do physicians have demanding schedules, but when they are home, they are often on call and have to prepare for unexpected emergencies. This strains personal relationships and can lead to a significant loss of autonomy.
While at work, many doctors find that they spend significant time completing administrative tasks and attending to bureaucratic matters rather than doing what they truly love: practicing medicine. In this way, many physicians find their professional fulfillment to be at odds with their personal satisfaction. Many also fear burnout.
This all boils down to many physicians feeling stuck. It is nearly impossible to advance a medical career without a significant time commitment, but this puts physicians’ personal relationships and mental health at risk. So, what’s next?
Considering Alternative Career Paths
For some physicians that are ready for a change, the natural next step is shifting careers entirely. This may entail pursuing education roles, healthcare consulting, or even medical writing. For physicians that wish to keep practicing, transitioning to part-time work can be a compelling choice, albeit one that necessitates a salary drop. Other physicians switch to specialties that have more consistent schedules and less disruptive hours.
When considering a career change, physicians often focus on regaining their personal lives and avoiding burnout. Some fear that this also means sacrificing what they love about their jobs. However, by transitioning to an emerging subspecialty such as wound care, physicians do not have to sacrifice anything – they can have it all.
“Having a surgical background has always leaned me towards pursuing a career in which I use my hands,” says Dr. Wuilleumier. “Wound care allows me to continue to use my surgical skills.” Furthermore, “being able to help patients with painful or bothersome wounds is objectively fulfilling.”
Subspecializing in Wound Care
The wound care subspecialty has expanded significantly over the past two decades as the geriatric population has increased. Wound care involves the management of both chronic and acute wounds, which affect millions worldwide and can significantly diminish quality of life.
As an emerging subspecialty with increasing demand for physicians, wound care is an excellent choice for healthcare professionals desiring improved work-life balance without sacrificing clinical satisfaction or hands-on medical care.
What Makes a Good Wound Care Physician?
Wound care physicians utilize their clinical skills to assess and address a variety of wounds and to develop optimal treatment plans based on patient needs. Effective wound care physicians possess the following characteristics:
Technically and procedurally adept: Wound care physicians spend much of their time performing procedures such as debridement, cauterization, and skin grafts.
Personable: In order to effectively lead an interdisciplinary care team and communicate care plans with patients and their families, wound care physicians must have strong interpersonal skills.
Hungry for knowledge: Since wound care is an emerging subspecialty, physicians practicing in this field excel when they commit to learning about and applying wound care advancements.
Transitioning to Wound Care
Many physicians find the transition to wound care to be fairly seamless, particularly if they have extensive technical training. Wound care is a hands-on subspecialty that involves regular procedures, oftentimes those that benefit from prior training in other specialties. Effective wound care also requires contextualizing a patient’s medical circumstances and considering comorbidities, both of which benefit from prior clinical experience.
“Through the practice of wound care, I am able to encourage the overall health and well-being of the patient,” says Dr. Holly Mollenkopf, a trained internist who now practices with Vohra. Physicians also typically work with patients throughout the process of their wound healing, which enables a continuity of care that is not always afforded to physicians.
Benefits of Wound Care
Subspecializing in wound care has numerous benefits for physicians, both professionally and personally. Wound treatment is extremely rewarding, as physicians are able to see wounds heal and the ways in which their patients’ lives improve as a result. As the subspecialty develops, physicians are also able to continually learn and perfect new methods for wound treatment and to seek improved patient outcomes.
In addition to its professional benefits, wound care allows physicians to enjoy enviable personal freedom. Wound care physicians work regular hours, can take frequent breaks, and often spend holidays at home.
“Aside from the rewarding clinical experiences and the accompanying significant increase in income that I’ve had after becoming a wound specialist, I have also enjoyed an increased flexibility,” says Dr. Kulvaree Keegan, a trained family practitioner who transitioned to wound care.
Subspecializing in wound care allows physicians to immerse themselves in work and then immerse themselves in their personal lives without disruptive overlap.
If you are considering wound care, joining Vohra Wound Physicians is a natural choice. Vohra is the nation’s most trusted wound care specialty group and is committed to advancing the subspecialty. The practice has over 20 years of expertise, a supportive physician network, and a respected wound care fellowship program. Physicians working at Vohra enjoy competitive pay, and no nights, weekends or on-call.
“I was motivated to work for Vohra when I saw that I had little time for the important things in my life,” shares Dr. Melissa Bray, a family physician who transitioned to Vohra. “Amazingly, by making the change to the subspecialty, I work less and make more money. In other words, I am more efficient with my time now and my family has benefitted.”
Vohra Wound Physicians is the nation’s most trusted wound care specialty️ practice. Founded in 2000, Vohra works with nearly 3,000 skilled nursing facilities nationwide and uses innovative, proprietary methodologies and technologies to provide superior wound healing to patients.