This week as we focus on Emergency Medicine I have the pleasure of interviewing the dynamic an inimitable Brandon Faza MD, MBA. I could easily use up a few paragraphs describing Dr. Faza and all of his interests, but I'm sure you will agree it's a lot more fascinating to hear him tell his story:
I’m one of those people who Baz Luhrmann mentions in “Wear Sunscreen” that probably won’t know yet at 40 all that I ultimately want to do in life. I've been a DJ, campus politician, body painter (GO USF BULLS!), and wannabe entrepreneur. I am known for my spiky hair, which I refuse to give back to the 90’s. I do want to serve others and to lead, and medicine is a perfect place for those. I hope someday to start or to help lead a non-profit organization that can do everlasting good for others on a large scale. I don’t endorse many things publicly but chose to write that I am outspoken wearer of Medelita lab coats because they really should be the industry standard!
What Med School did you attend?
University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
Where is your Place of Residency?
Emergency Medicine at Tampa General Hospital.
I also completed a Transitional Year at St. Mary Mercy Hospital in Livonia, Michigan.
What year of Residency are you in?
Second Year (PGY-2).
Did you have a mentor during Residency?
I have an official mentor through the residency program, and all of the ED attendings at TGH are great about frequently offering mentor-ship in general. I also maintain connections with mentors outside of medicine, including community and business leaders, which I think is important for maintaining a sense of self and a sense of membership in the greater community outside of work and residency.
Have you or do you hope to ever work in Private Practice?
There are options for non-hospital-based jobs in EM and in related fields, but I am fairly sure I will not work in private practice. A lot of factors are driving newer physicians like me away from private practice and towards hospital or system-based employment.
In addition to the grueling daily patient care schedule one must keep in today’s environment just to pay the bills, spending more time after business hours to run a practice leaves little time for family and for other ventures. The countless regulatory demands required by today’s healthcare system are making it much harder to survive without the benefits of a larger employer, and make employment preferable to private practice for many young physicians.
What are the currently the biggest challenges you face professionally?
I have many professional interests and right now I need to stay the course in residency.
What decisions would you change on your path to Residency?
I would have sought a lot more advice in advance. There is a perplexing culture in medical school and in medicine in which seeking advice or help in general is frequently seen negatively. Some peers will view asking for help in general as a sign that one “hasn't done their homework,” is under prepared, or is even incompetent. It can be discouraging for students who are assimilating that culture.
However, the truth is that we are all human, nobody has all the answers, and we all need as much help and advice as we can get. I also believe that this culture is changing with time. My medical school was wonderful about making a wealth of resources available, but I should have asked more questions. Now that I am more confident in my membership in the profession, I am much more willing to ask for help. To the students entering residency after me; know that we all need help and advice all throughout our journey, and that nobody should ever be discouraged from pursuing it.
What advice would you give a Med Student about to graduate and go into their Residency?
Don’t spend your first paycheck all in one place!
Party hard, vacation, and visit family in the months between Match and start of residency; we don’t get many breaks along the road and it is important to take advantage of the time when we have it.
Practice what you preach. You wouldn't go to a dentist who has bad teeth. You must tend to your own health before you can serve others. Diet, exercise, sleep hygiene, and personal health go a LONG way towards supporting or detracting from your education.
Start thinking about insurances and financial planning. Even though we don’t make enough money to make a dent in that educational debt, foresight is invaluable and you won’t get much training for those types of real-life decisions in medicine.
Take residency seriously, but not so seriously that you lose your sense of self and membership in the greater community. Physicians are in a great position to be involved for the betterment of others in every community, and getting lost in your studies and your endless work hours can make habits easy to carry over once you’re done with residency. We have spent years learning how to help others, and that spirit is needed outside the hospital walls too.
Along those lines, don’t forget to develop and fiercely maintain hobbies and interests outside of medicine. It’s our job to help people, and to help them we must understand them. It’s hard to understand others if you’ve spent years completely lost in books and have difficulty relating to the average person.
Remember, Medicine is a service industry. Think about that - service. But instead of preparing products, selling wares, or providing entertainment, we are offering the most important service of all: to help others to live and be healthy. Medicine is the ultimate service industry. It should be patient-centered and people-centered. Sometimes our long hours and difficult journey can make this hard to remember, but it makes all the difference to the people we serve daily.
Patients tend to have no idea how smart you are, how much you’ve studied, or how accomplished your skills are. They assume you’re great at all of those things because you’re a doctor. We are judged on our bedside manner and our ability to help people understand what is happening to them and their loved ones. They depend on us to help them make life-changing decisions. It is as important, if not more so than knowing the medicine and giving the right treatment. It may be hard to fully understand how much a little extra time and patience is appreciated until you or someone in your family goes through the same thing. We have the power to help people through some of the most difficult times of their lives, especially in residency when we may see the most high-acuity and critical conditions.
Remember that. Live it. Own it even if those around you don’t, and it will set you apart and set an example for others.
What advice would you give a student considering Med School?
Truly seek to understand what you might be getting into. It’s never too late to change careers, but it’s a lot harder if you discover that you chose the wrong path once you've committed a decade to an education and get
into sizable debt. Consider the extreme commitment of money, time, effort, and personal sacrifice. Seek resident physicians and attending physicians to ask them about these things.
Consider whether the things you will want out of life are compatible with the realities of a career as a physician. Make sure you at least consider other professions of similar service if you feel a calling, such as PA and ARNP. For example, many mid-level practitioners are able to handle a large proportion of the everyday cases that physicians do, and there are meaningful differences in the length of training, risk of litigation, and relative pay.
There are people who go into Medicine because their parents pushed them into it, or because everyone in their family went into Medicine, or because someday you can make a good living. There are a lot of bitter, regretful 30-somethings in Medicine who are watching life go by while they do something they come to realize they weren’t meant for, but by the time they discover it, there’s no way to turn around. In the end, you’d only be fooling and cheating yourself if you choose Medicine and it’s not right for you.
Make sure you REALLY want it before you saddle yourself with decades of debt. I’m over $500,000 in debt, and a changing healthcare system may not guarantee my ability to pay that back any time soon. I’ll be 32 before I am an attending, having never bought new things, and that is the age when families begin and costs go up. A lot of us work ourselves into mountains of debt while our friends in other fields are already buying houses, boats, and socking away money for retirement. If it’s truly your calling, and worth everything I've mentioned and more, then dive in head first. I have, and I made the right decision. But we all work around people every day who don’t give the best care because they made the wrong career choice.
Just like for the med students; don’t forget to develop and fiercely maintain hobbies and interests outside of medicine. Take lots of classes outside of medicine. It’s our job to help people, and to help them we must understand them. It’s hard to understand others if you've spent years completely lost in books and have difficulty relating to the average person. There’s nothing worse than a stuffy physician that nobody can get along with because every joke you crack is lost on them and they can’t relate to you (remember – this is a people industry).
Don’t stress about where you get into med school. MD, DO, school rank, etc is all overblown. We all learn mostly the same stuff, take the same exams, and make the same paycheck someday. Most patients never know where you went to med school, or even if you’re an MD or a DO. Truly, your residency is where the bulk of your true training is, and that’s the time to be the most selective.
Don’t be one of those people in med school who say they don’t study but secretly study constantly. Own your nerdiness, and quit giving the rest of us a bad rep for being gunners with all talk and no game!
If you are a physician who is interested in sharing advice on their area of practice, please contact us via email.