“Are you another surgeon feeling burnt out by the demands of general surgery? Listen up. Like you I fell hard in love with our specialty. As surgeons we really do get to save lives with the skill of our hands and problem solve with our brains against baffling pathology. Truly rewarding. But too much of a good thing can make even the best healer sick.
After practicing general and trauma surgery in private practice with the same group for 9 years, my hospital made a switch that I at first resisted but now see as a true gift. They got Synergy. When I saw the brilliance of the Synergy practice model, it wasn’t long until I made the decision to work full time for Synergy. It is by far the best decision I have made in my medical career.
I cannot quite say that you will have twice the fun with half the work. But it’s close. After being a Synergy surgeon for over a year I can tell you that I have found a balance. People say that you have either time or money but not both. Well, I do. This balance has been struck for me in several ways that can be true for you as well.
1). 12-hour shifts. Like some of you, my shifts were 24 grueling hours that really turned into 32+ hours. This is what exhausted me the most. I love a lap appy, but not after being up all night. Today, a 12-hour shift is very doable, and passing off cases is a good thing for the surgeon and patients as well.
2). PA help. As a general surgeon, I am not afraid to work. But what a relief to have good PA’s to help with rounding and consults. Without a residency program I have been used to operating alone. With PA’s I am reminded of how much fun it is to operate with some great help and get to do a little teaching.
3). Team approach. Similar again to residency I am enjoying the cross-pollination of ideas and practice. I am learning from colleagues. With more sharing of patients, I believe I am becoming a better surgeon and taking better care of patients.
4). Real time off. This is the big one! This motto of Synergy really rings true. I am married to a part-time family doc and have 4 kids ages 5-11. These are precious years. More than anything I love being the dad who now gets to help make lunches and drive kids to school. I have even volunteered for recess duty! I recently returned from a 3-week volunteer surgical trip to Honduras with my whole family. This meaningful experience worked smoothly with the Synergy model. As I am writing this I was interrupted by one of my mounting biking companions. This will be my 6th ride in the last 6 days!
I have not escaped the toil of living in a broken world. There will still be frivolous lawsuits and un-expected bile leaks. I will yet again be taking down the splenic flexure of Jabba-the-Hut at 2 am with hands that smell like “you know what” for three days despite double gloving. But at least I will feel the support of the team. I will have good PA’s to help me round on Jabba. Solid surgeons who will help share the load. What’s more? I will have time and space to refresh and read and be with family and play. Like right now!”
–Paul Fredette, MD, General SurgeonPaul Fredette, MD, Synergy General Surgeon
Thank you for the opportunity to provide feedback on the relationship we have enjoyed with Synergy Surgicalists. As a customer for over two years, the work by your orthopedic surgeons has been a valuable asset to our organization and the communities we serve.
The skill, relationship and competence of the orthopedic surgeons has made them an active part of the medical staff and in particular a very valuable resource to the emergency department. With joint replacement a common malady in our older population especially, they were compassionate and caring in their approach and demeanor.
When any concerns did arise, the corporate office was responsive and reacted quickly to correct any concerns. This in particular has been a strength of Synergy.
I am happy to discuss service with current or potential customers and highly value the relationship we have with Synergy. Thank you for a good experience.
William P. Sexton
Chief Executive OfficerWilliam Sexton, CEO, Crossing Rivers Health
“In my eleven years of practice after completing my surgical training, I have worked in both independent private practice and hospital employed models. The past several years have been challenging times in medicine as work volume has increased, revenues have decreased, and the documentation burden has become overwhelming. The end result of this has been less time to spend with my family and increasing frustration with work. It has been less about taking care of patients and more about satisfying the appropriate documentation requirements. Many times, I have asked myself how things ended up getting to this point and how can it be corrected…there has to be a better way. Then, one day I ran into a Synergy Surgicalists representative at an orthopedic surgery conference.
The Synergy Orthopedic Surgicalist model made complete sense and was definitely worth exploring. Over the next year, while taking call 10-15 days/month at multiple hospitals, as well as trying to run a traditional elective practice, I found myself working around 26 days/month on average…and although I lived at home with my wife and children, I rarely ever saw them as I was gone before they woke up and often got home after they went to bed. Being able to actually have dinner with them was a rare treat, much less attend one of my son’s baseball games. At that point, I knew something had to change. As fate would have it, I ran into the folks from Synergy again at a conference around that time and spent several hours talking with them and exploring their opportunities. Over the course of the previous year, since I first discovered them, they had opened up several new locations in addition to the ones that they already had up and running. One of them happened to be a model that fit what I was looking for perfectly!
The onboarding process was thorough, yet very easy. I was pleased to discover that Synergy was interested in the actual character, personality, work ethic, and skill set of their candidates and not just looking for “warm bodies” to fill a vacancy as you often find in locum’s work. Synergy demonstrated themselves to be vastly different from a locum’s style practice in a very good way. I take pride in my work and so do they. This was very important to me. From the beginning, it was clear to me that this was something with a long-term mindset. The prospective hospital also interviewed all of our team members, which I also appreciated, as it gave additional assurance that everyone was planning for both quality as well as longevity. This process gave me confidence that my teammates would also be highly skilled and take good care of my patient’s while I was off duty.
In my particular model, Synergy is developing orthopedics as a new service line for a smaller hospital with a great community need. It was comforting to see and be involved in all of the preliminary work that they were doing with the hospital to help get things up and running. I never felt that I was left alone to “figure it out” by myself. The communication has been very good throughout the entire process, and I truly feel part of the Synergy team. The hospital has been very welcoming and eager to help get things up and running for us also, which has been a refreshing change of pace. The medical staff has welcomed us with open arms, and it has been very easy to fit in. We are not viewed as transients and have been treated the same as a full-time staff member…once again providing some reassurance that this is a quality operation with a long-term mindset.
Personally, this is an excellent fit for me. I can compartmentalize work for the first time ever. When I am on site, I am able to devote my full attention to work and being the best doctor I am capable of being without distraction. Then, when I am home, I can trust in my colleagues to provide the same quality care as I do, which allows me the peace of mind to devote my full attention to being the best father and husband that I can be. I now have the free time to help coach my son’s baseball team, play golf, travel, and most importantly eat dinner with my family on a regular basis! The balance of work and free time that this job provides has eliminated burnout and restored the joy in practicing medicine and taking care of patients.
Thank you, Synergy, for giving me my life back!”Daniel Milam, DO, Synergy Orthopedic Surgeon
In late 2017, Preston Memorial Hospital (“PMH”) entered into a partnership with Synergy Surgicalists to develop an orthopedic surgery program. Since 2010, PMH had a strategic initiative to add Orthopedic Surgery to its complement of surgical services. The hospital identified this service as a priority to improve the hospital’s overall financial strength and provide a much-needed service to our patients. PMH had multiple failed recruitment attempts and the physician search was finally placed on hold.
In early 2017, I heard about Synergy through the National Rural Health Association. I listened to a webinar and reached out to Dr. John Campbell, Synergy Surgicalists’ President and CEO, right away to learn more about Synergy Surgicalists. Within five months, the contract was finalized, and we were on our way to initiating our program.
With the leadership of Cathy McDowell, BSN, MBA, Chief Operating Officer, who worked with our internal staff, we began the work to build our program from the ground up. Synergy educated our staff, assisted with equipment evaluation and purchasing decisions, and coordinated all of the setup of the program. We were presented with exceptionally sourced candidates for our Orthopedic Surgery Program and hired the first two candidates we interviewed. These were surgeons I don’t think would have ever given a small, rural hospital a second look if it were not for the Synergy relationship and work model.
The Preston Memorial Orthopedic Surgery Program was initiated on July 9th. Since that date, PMH has had an overwhelming response from our physicians and community. In the first nine months, we have had over 1,700 clinic visits and 114 surgeries. The “face of the program”, Dr. Daniel Milam, is well-known in the community and has been nothing but phenomenal. He has the trifecta of characteristics any administrator seeks in a surgeon: compassion, professionalism, and knowledge.
In April 2019, PMH received the Preston County Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year Award. One of the reasons cited for receiving this award was the hospital’s impact on the community and its outreach efforts. The hospital provides many community benefit opportunities including education to everyone from our school-aged youth to seniors on topics like ATV safety to what to expect when you have a joint replacement.
The marketing and outreach conducted on behalf of the Orthopedic Surgery Program was instrumental in PMH receiving the Chamber award in 2019. We have been able to deliver a service and meet the needs of patients at our community hospital, right here and close to home. Previously, patients had to travel almost an hour for this type of care and orthopedic surgery was the number two reason we transferred patients out of our emergency department.
If you are thinking of starting an Orthopedic Surgery Program, talk to Dr. John Campbell and his team. They helped us do something we could have never done on our own; we have three outstanding orthopedic surgeons seeing patients in the clinic, doing surgery, and taking care of our emergencies.
Synergy Surgicalists has been a true partner in every sense of the word, and we are thrilled to have this relationship to provide orthopedic surgery to our community.Melissa Lockwood, President and CEO, Preston Memorial Hospital
“After 28 years in private practice, I began looking for opportunities to allow me greater freedom to travel with my wife and spend time with family. My family has grown to include two grown sons who are now married, a granddaughter (with a second due shortly) and miles of distance between their families.
My Synergy schedule allows me this free time. When I work, I am busy. However, when I am off, I am truly off–no office responsibilities, no patient calls and the confidence that the patients I have taken care of continue to receive quality care from my Synergy colleagues.
I also continue to be challenged with my work and find that the skills I have acquired over the 28 years are being put to good use.
I am more than happy with my decision to join Synergy. Perhaps my only regret is that this model was not available to me years ago.”Thomas Macha, MD, Synergy Orthopedic Surgeon
“The physicians at Synergy Surgicalists have brought excellent responsiveness and quality care to our patients requiring emergency orthopedic care. Synergy offers quick solutions to long wait times and confusing follow-up appointments for patients experiencing unexpected orthopedic emergencies. Synergy has helped streamline our transfer center processes. With one call, a referring physician is able to smoothly transition a patient from another site to our regional medical center. Their physicians are team-oriented and demonstrate a focus on patient experience.
Since Synergy started their program, our volume and revenues have increased by 80% for the acute care orthopedic service line. Follow up care is managed in a fashion to maximize outcomes and patient satisfaction. Synergy works closely with the existing orthopedic specialists and other service lines in our medical center. We also are seeing increased volume and satisfaction from our elective orthopedic surgeons.
From a personal standpoint, many of the problems that arose from orthopedic call have gone away. This has allowed me to focus on the myriad of other issues that occur on a regular basis.”Becky Pape, CEO, Good Samaritan Hospital
“I initially started Synergy as a temporary or “stop-gap” option while I was in between jobs. However, I am now settled in my new location, and when considering the local options (solo practice, group, hospital-employed), a large part of the conversation is my desire to stay involved at Synergy also. The organization provides so much support on both the front and back ends, and they take a very personal and individualized approach. If I want to speak to the CEO, I have his cell and can just give him a call. Great people are involved in this organization from top to bottom, and the surgeons I work with are great. I highly recommend Synergy!”Timothy Hartshorn, MD, Synergy Orthopedic Surgeon
“Synergy Surgicalists team members cover both general and orthopedic surgery needs at Penn Highlands DuBois 24/7, every day of the year. This comprehensive coverage has given the community surgeons the ability to stabilize and grow their respective practices. This is the third year in partnership with Synergy.
The surgeons treat the patients with the utmost respect, and they are part of our community attending various activities, utilizing services, etc. This results in improved satisfaction with patients and family members. The Synergy Surgicalists are seen as part of the team at Penn Highland DuBois, which goes a long way in a rural setting.
A partnership with Synergy Surgicalists means that surgical patients are taken care of at the local facility, and they stay in our system. Patients are diverted out of the system only if the case calls for a specialized high-level treatment or if requested by the family.
I have a great, open-structured relationship with the leadership at Synergy Surgicalists. As a hospital administrator, the support that I receive is open and highly collaborative. Each interaction that I have with Synergy is extremely cooperative. From the beginning of the partnership negotiations to the current time, I have always had the utmost respect for the Synergy leadership team.”Travis Millander, Healthcare Administrator
“Being a Synergy Orthopaedic Trauma Hospitalist results in the best of both worlds; professional satisfaction and abundant personal “down time”. The niche’ you create by treating primarily orthopaedic trauma patients allows focused learning through collegial interaction, ample time to engage in abundant CME activities, challenging surgery, and the feeling of immediate gratification.”Marty Gagliardi, MD, Synergy Orthopedic Surgeon