Do you have too much passion for one job or career to hold? If so, I see you.
As a physician assistant, author, community activist, speaker, fundraiser, and mom, I can relate to having more than one driving purpose in life. I consider myself a multipassionate, defined as someone with various hobbies, talents, and passions who brings their skills across a range of activities and pursuits.
I actually put off practicing medicine after graduating from my physician assistant program in 1997 because there was still so much I wanted to learn and experience.
Instead, I completed an internship at Ms. magazine working under legendary editor, academic, biographer, and activist Marcia Gillespie. She was a wonderful example of how I could thrive without putting myself in a box.
Given all of this, if someone had told me at the start of my career that I’d be practicing medicine for 23 years (18 of them in the same emergency department), I’d never have believed it.
The key for me has been finding a workplace that lets me bring all of me to my job. Fortunately, I found such a home with Vituity beginning in 2004.
Over the past two decades, my life has evolved in ways I never expected. But Vituity has been there through all my changing seasons.
As a PA, I have been asked to participate in programs and create programs of benefit for all teams in the organization, not just PAs. For example, I recently created a culture and culture competency module that all new hires are required to complete. What an honor! I feel that over my 18 years of service my skills and knowledge are truly valued and utilized in so many ways through Vituity.
Early in my PA career, I wrote a book called Loud Lips Lucy about a boisterous New York City girl who learns the value of listening after contracting laryngitis. This led to an entire series of Smarties books, including Worry Wart Wes and Catchin’ Cooties Consuelo. My intention was to teach health and life skills to kids in a fun and inclusive way. I really wanted kids to see themselves in the diverse characters.
As it turned out, kids, parents, teachers, and librarians all loved the books. Elementary schools around the country hosted me as a visiting author. My Vituity colleagues could have seen my author career as a distraction from my “real” job. But in fact, they were incredibly supportive. They even helped me to host pajama reads at our hospital at which every kid received a free book.
A few years later, I embarked on a new adventure: motherhood. This meant putting my author career on hold, but I was still itching to write. My opportunity came when I received a Vituity Innovation Grant to create educational materials for recently discharged ED patients. I focused on common diagnoses with a goal not only to inform but to entertain. These handouts, I believed, could deepen our connections with patients.
I also took the opportunity to get more involved in my local community as a civil rights activist and speaker. So you can imagine my excitement when Vituity launched its foundation in 2020.
I immediately connected with the mission of the Vituity Cares Foundation. In my author career, I’d met many kids who aspired to work in medicine but needed someone to guide them. And my work in the ED shows me firsthand the gaping disparities in our healthcare system. I immediately began attending Vituity Cares meetings and offering help.
On one call in 2020, Vituity CEO and Vituity Cares President Imamu Tomlinson, MD, shared the guilt he felt while eating a Thanksgiving dinner when so many in our communities were going hungry. This inspired me to collect money for local food programs. Our office administrator patiently helped me set up Venmo, PayPal, and Zelle accounts to smooth the donation process.
Over two weeks of talking to colleagues, hospital staff, family, and friends, I received almost $11,000 in donations. Vituity Cares used the funds to fill three local food banks. Many of my ED coworkers donated their time (and vehicles) to haul loads from Costco and Walmart.
In 2021, I led an effort for the Vituity Cares street medicine program. Several times a year, the foundation hosts pop-up clinics to provide medical care, clothing, and hygiene items to unhoused people in our communities. So many of my ED colleagues lined up to get behind this initiative that looks after the needs of this underserved and often misunderstood patient population.
As a woman who has multiple “careers,” I’m often asked how I balance competing priorities. Here are a few things I’ve learned.
There are times when I'm tired and frustrated. But I know that if those who believe in goodness, fairness, and justice don’t continue to push for those values, then nothing changes. This is just one reason I appreciate how Vituity inspires and empowers me and my fellow clinicians to bring our best to work every day. We’re so much stronger and more successful when we all come together.