Having followed up her master’s degree in speech and language pathology with a medical degree and three years as an internal medicine resident with Kaiser Permanente in San Francisco, Lori Selleck, M.D., thought she’d be all about working with patients.
“What I did not expect was, in addition to caring for patients, the opportunity to explore a variety of roles within my medical group aimed at improving our care as well as improving physician skills and abilities to take care of our members,” she said.
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR COMPANY
EDUCATION: Masters in speech and language pathology, followed by medical degree from the college of human medicine at Michigan State University. I completed a three-year internal medicine residency at Kaiser hospital in San Francisco in 1990.
STAFF: Novato is a small satellite of the main medical center in San Rafael. In the department of medicine there are about 12 providers and about 15 staff including medical assistants, nurses and LVNs.
I have been an internist with TPMG in Novato for 26 years. I was very interested in a large group practice with a focus on prevention and health promotion and I made the right choice when I joined Kaiser Permanente. Our model has become increasingly successful and other groups are now trying to emulate us. What I did not expect is was, in addition to caring for patients, the opportunity to explore a variety of roles within my medical group aimed at improving our care as well as improving physician skills and abilities to take care of our members.
I have held the following roles over the last 25 years: chief of health education, physician manager in the novato medicine department, chief of physician wellness, communication consultant and assistant physician in chief for health promotion. This has allowed me to enjoy multiple facets of the health care arena.
MAJOR ACCOMPLISHMENT IN THE PAST YEAR OR SO
Nothing different in the past year just that it feels like an accomplishment to continue to juggle multiple roles while caring for patients in a time of explosive growth in our membership. We have all been extremely busy and I am thankful every day that I am in a group practice where we can support each other.
WHAT IS THE ACHIEVEMENT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
Raising two wonderful children while working full time.
WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE TODAY?
The biggest challenge in primary care is managing the ever increasing requirements for documentation in our electronic medical record while ensuring the patient has felt heard and given the kind of care I would like my family and friends to receive.
WORDS THAT BEST DESCRIBE YOU: Curious, energetic and compassionate.
AS A SUCCESSFUL FEMALE PROFESSIONAL, WHAT WERE THE BIGGEST OBSTACLES YOU FACED AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM?
Managing a career and raising children at the same time was the biggest challenge. There was never a feeling of balance between the two, and it was easy to feel that each part was not receiving my best. It was hard to not feel guilty and to take care of myself.
HOW DO YOU THINK YOUR PROFESSION WILL CHANGE IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS?
I hope the rest of the medical profession will focus on prevention and being a better steward of the dollars spent on health care. We need to take the “fee for service” mentality out of medicine, and focus on prevention, health promotion and using resources wisely, removing the profit motive. More work with be done virtually instead of in person visits when appropriate.
WHO WAS YOUR MOST IMPORTANT MENTOR?
I had a few women physician mentors in medical school and residency, showing me that it was possible to have a career in medicine and still have a family. I was pretty green when I started in Kaiser Permanente when the Novato clinic opened in 1990. I learned how to take care of very sick people in my internal medicine residency, but had lots of questions about more common conditions when I started. One of my colleagues, Dr Mike Ralston took me under his wing and answered all my questions, in addition to showing me how to manage a daily schedule. I am still thankful for his advice and the example he set for me.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A YOUNG WOMAN ENTERING YOUR PROFESSION OR THE WORK WORLD TODAY?
Even with the advances in technology, using an electronic medical record and doing more virtual care than before, at the heart of this profession is taking care of people at their most vulnerable times in life. It is important to take care of yourself, so that you can continue to give of yourself emotionally. It is possible to “burn out” if you do not take the time for yourself to recharge. This is especially important if you have children, as that can also be emotionally draining. Fortunately there is acceptance among the medical profession to work part-time which can help with this.
MOST ADMIRED BUSINESSPERSON OUTSIDE YOUR ORGANIZATION: I continue to be amazed and inspired by Mary Jane Burke who shows such a passion for the education of our students in Marin County and the support she shows for our teachers. I do not think teachers get the recognition they deserve.
TYPICAL DAY AT THE OFFICE: Now that we have hospital doctors managing our patients in the hospital I no longer start my day seeing my hospitalized patients. While I miss that aspect of my patient care it allows me to get to work earlier, as the days have gotten so much busier. I start my day with a “huddle” at 8:30 where the doctors and staff come together to review the day, who is on vacation and needs coverage, what meetings may be happening that day, how we are doing with certain initiatives like smoking cessation among our members, etc.
I start seeing patients at 8:40 and end around 5:30. That is just the patients coming in for a visit. As technology has exploded we now also do much care on-line, such as responding to patient e-mails. We have also expanded into telephone visits and now video visits, so that the member can get their needs met without taking time out of their day to come in or pay a co-pay, when appropriate. Much of the actual charting may happen later in the day, often at home in the evening as it can be hard to keep up with charting during a busy clinic day. I continue to work in the hospital one evening a month, mostly admitting patients to the hospital from our emergency room.
BEST PLACE TO WORK OUTSIDE OF YOUR OFFICE: I like to set up my home computer in my kitchen at home. It is light and cheery.
CURRENT READING: I am in two book clubs and that allows me to read books I would never otherwise think of, such as recently “H is for Hawk.” But when choosing a book on my own, I tend to like to escape into murder mysteries. I am currently working my way through the Elizabeth George series again for the second time.
MOST WANT TO MEET: I would love to meet Michelle Obama. She seems to be a very calm, brilliant woman and it would be fun to see what these past 8 years have been like for her, raising her 2 daughters in a fish bowl. .
SOCIAL MEDIA YOU MOST USE: Texting and email is my limit. I am only on Facebook to see my kids entries. I have five friends on Facebook and never post anything. I am so busy communicating with people all day long that I like to unplug from that on my own time.
STRESS-RELIEVERS: Exercise is my biggest stress reliever. I love to hike the hills in Marin, and try to keep up with the Bar Method classes two to three times a week.
FAVORITE HOBBIES: I planted 2 raised vegetable gardens in my yard last summer and am having fun learning how to grow vegetables, and use them in my cooking. I love to knit and do needlepoint. I play mah-jong with a fun group of women. I love to travel, and recently took a trip to Namibia which was very exotic. I managed to climb the “big daddy” sand dune in the Sossusvlei area, which reminds me that I would like to travel more now while I can be physically active.