Q&A: Rural Health Practitioner of the Year, Larry Rhodes, MD

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , May 22, 2013

I never refuse to see a person who is late and I won't let anyone in my division refuse to see somebody who is late because I have been there. I know where they are coming from. It may not be snowing in Morgantown, but an hour from here they may have a foot of snow.

You get mad because a family doesn't get a prescription filled and then you realize that the closest drug store to them is 45 minutes away and it closed at 8 p.m. and they didn't get back from the hospital until 9 p.m. There are things like that that you don't think of if you don't go out and do this type of stuff. It is that type of stuff that makes you appreciate what they are going through.

HLM: Is clinical outreach a good prescription for doctor burnout?

Rhodes: It is a great cure for burnout. The person who was my boss who is still in our division is 73 years old and he still works and he is the one who started the outreach clinics for pediatric cardiology.

He is not burned out and we will do a clinic together on Friday when I go to Beckley. I have another practitioner in our group who is 71 and another who is 65. They are all cardiologists and none of them are burned out. I have said a number of times; they will drag me out of this building feet first. I will not retire. I will work until I can't walk. And part of it is the passion for doing this.

John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.
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