Interview with Dr. Helen Rhodes
On this week's episode of the PNC podcast, Dr. Helen Rhodes describes how persistence helped her find meaningful clinical and nonclinical jobs that, together, created a delightful career.
Helen describes the difficulties of returning to obstetrics after several years away, the value of diversifying your employment opportunities, and the fascinating world of plasmapheresis.
Helen began her career in her home state of Texas, completing her residency there. Shortly thereafter, an academic medical center in Houston recruited her to do gynecology only.
Although she felt very lucky to be doing gynecology, Helen soon realized that she was not ready for academic medicine. Not yet 30 years old, traditional practice beckoned.
Helen left academic medicine and returned to full-service OB-GYN work, serving a community in Houston for ten years. However, after ten years of service, she felt like the OB-GYN lifestyle no longer fit her goals.
“I really was having difficulty with the lifestyle, of obstetrics primarily.”Dr, Helen Rhodes
Feeling better prepared for it at that point, she returned to the same academic institution she had left a decade before and worked there for ten more years as a gynecologist.
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After her youngest son graduated high school, Helen decided to take a big leap and go into private practice doing only gynecology. She knew it was a risky move, given that she had no patients to follow her and would not be offering obstetrics.
On top of that, her reason for the change was a desire to reconnect with her patients and be able to spend real time on patient care. She quickly realized, however, that fewer patients would mean less revenue, particularly in private practice.
Helen recognized the need to supplement her income in private practice if she wanted to match her previous salary. After doing work in file review, sales, and even legal testimony, she finally landed on locum tenens work.
Initially, Helen had difficulty finding locum tenens work because she had been out of obstetrics for so long. However, with persistence and lots of time spent browsing recruitment sites and answering emails, she found work that enabled her to do prenatal care.
While managing her private practice, Helen decided to get her MBA with the goal of either entering administration or consulting. There she met several doctors from rural Kansas that offered her a locum opportunity that would allow her to get into obstetrics again.
While that opportunity fell through, it opened her eyes to the option of working out of state. After finding another opportunity in Kansas, Helen delivered her first baby in 13 years.
So he pursued more out of state work, getting licensed in New Mexico. She ultimately found a very rewarding, semi-permanent position at an underserved rural hospital there.
Adding Plasmapheresis Yields a Delightful Career
While all this was going on, another business school peer introduced Helen to the world of plasmapheresis, where she became a medical director for a facility in Houston.
Although not what she expected to do with her MBA, she found the work stimulating and the compensation to be very reasonable. With a commitment of only 4 hours for any given day that she worked, she was able to fit the work into her private practice and locum schedules.
Helen's story is a timeless one. Through her willingness to take risks, explore every opportunity, and work hard along the way, she has cultivated a successful, diverse, rewarding and delightful career for herself.
“Most importantly, you just have to think outside the box. Look at many many opportunities…. Expect to get a lot of “no”s and don’t get discouraged. “Dr. Helen Rhodes
That's not to say that she hasn't experienced some difficult times along the way, and she can certainly recognize areas where she would have done things differently. At its core though, her story is one of the power of perseverance and the value of exploring every option that you have available to you.
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Thanks to our sponsor…
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