Speakers: Gregory L. Blair MD, Ambassador Medical Director
Why is Sound a great place to build a career?
Gregory L. Blair MD: Sound Physicians is a great place to build a hospitalist career. You can really do anything within the realm of hospitalist medicine and like myself, you can even invent some new roles in hospitalist medicine. My background is, for the last 15 years I've been a practicing Hospitalist, started off in a new program about 2008 that we managed up from four physicians to a total of 30 full-time providers and full-time employees eventually getting the program large enough that it was becoming difficult for us to manage our own footprint and at that point we actually contacted Sound and made a deal for them to take over the company, take over management of our hospitalist portion. Soon after that, I was able to step back and start doing just more hospitalist work with the intention of becoming an Ambassador and doing more traveling as I've gotten older. I wanted to explore doing ambassador- type work or locums-type work around the country, experienced different areas, be able to bring my wife along and Sound has provided me that opportunity. We actually created a role where I am an Ambassador Chief Hospitalist, which means that I travel around to different programs that either don't have a Chief Hospitalist, either temporarily or for a long period of time. Most commonly these would be programs that are new and we're working on bringing in management. Throughout the pandemic, this became acutely necessary with all of the turnover influx and we took over a large hospitalist program and I was able to step in and help manage several different startups within that hospital system as we stabilize things and got the programs running. Other things that can be done within Sound really are unlimited. You can be a hospitalist — surprise, surprise — you can be a nocturnist. We do telemedicine, we do all kinds of different — anything you can think of in the gamut of hospital medicine, we do. The company is incredibly supportive of any kind of innovation. Any kind of new ideas will be looked into, will be taken seriously, and you can feel very supported. I'm very happy with what Sound Physicians provides for me. Obviously, what we provide for our hospital partners. I think we can be proud of what we do. We are definitely leaders in the hospital medicine field and we really are the Hospitalist place to, to be in the entire nation. If you're thinking of a Hospitalist job, Sound Physicians has the diversity and the stability to get any kind of career moving, and provide any kind of Hospitalist career you may be looking for
What is your favorite part about living in Alexandria, LA?
Gregory L. Blair MD: Hi, my name is Greg Blair. I am an Internal Medicine Doctor — Hospitalist by trade — and I'm currently serving as the Chief Hospitalist at Christus St. Frances Cabrini Hospital in Alexandria, Louisiana. I am an Ambassador Chief, which means that I will be here in a temporary fashion probably somewhere around six months while we work on finding a new Chief Hospitalist. Also we are recruiting to fill some spots in our team. At this point we have most of our long-term Physician spots filled and we are recruiting for a new Chief Hospitalist. This is a program of about 25 full- time employees when completely full. So it's a pretty busy practice. We typically see between 100 and — I'm sorry, 100 and 120 follow-up patients daily and admit somewhere between 25 to 35 patients a day. So we're relatively busy and take care of all of the medical needs for Alexandria, Louisiana. Your next question that is, where is Alexandria, Louisiana? Alexandria is right in the middle of Louisiana. So it is two and a half hours driving south of Shreveport and about two hours north of Baton Rouge, which means it's about three hours from New Orleans. We're also about 3.5 hours from Houston, Texas. Alexandria is a diverse and interesting community. It used to be a very active, rural trading post, farming-type community, lots of industry up and down the Red River which connects all the way from New Mexico to the Mississippi River. So there's lots of history in Alexandria there's lots of history all around this area. This is part of the area that was the Louisiana Purchase. As an Ambassador Physician, I'm kind of unique. I don't actually live in Alexandria, but I travel. My home is in Oklahoma City and I travel back and forth every week. I do a lot of work via video chat and via phone, but I am in town four days a week. And again, this is a temporary spot — that's kind of my job. I go to different places where there are needs to be filled and I work until we get those needs filled and then I move on to different places. You can probably see that I'm a little older than the average Hospitalists. My kids are all grown and away and my wife and I utilize this Ambassador or Locum Tenens type role as a way to move around and see different parts of the country and also collect some other travel points so we can take cool vacations.
What stands out about the hospital and team you work with?
Gregory L. Blair MD: The team in St. Francis Cabrini in Alexandria is pretty unique team. We're in a setting that's relatively rural, right in the middle of Louisiana. There are not a lot of Physicians in the area so getting new staffing from a Physician standpoint can be a challenge. We lost some providers right at the beginning of the pandemic to fellowship and some other changes. and it has been difficult to get our staffing back up to full strength mainly because of the pandemic. This is an isolated location and so it's sometimes more difficult to get Physicians, especially multi-Physician families, where maybe there's not as much opportunity in a more rural area. What that has meant is that the team that I work with is very dedicated, very dedicated both to their hospital and to their town. They're very committed to providing high-quality medical care and taking care of this entire population in all of central Louisiana. It's a pretty busy hospital. We run about 250 to 300 patients in the hospital at any given time and for a town that is about a population of 50- to 60,000 people. Uh that's a relatively large hospital. There's another hospital, it's actually just a little bit smaller also in town. So between the two of us, we have most of the business for central Louisiana. It keeps things pretty busy, but it also keeps a tight-knit group of people. What's really neat around the hospital is how well everyone gets along, everyone works well as a team. It's a small town kind of atmosphere. Everyone knows everyone, and everyone works well together to get things done. This is a place where you don't have the infighting that maybe you have, sometimes in some bigger hospitals or more metropolitan areas where there are a lot more options. Everyone works together. Everyone shops together. Everyone lives together and everyone gets along, works hard, and takes care of our community together.
What do you find most rewarding about your role at Sound Physicians?
Gregory L. Blair MD: What is most rewarding about my role at Sound Physicians is that as an Ambassador Chief Hospitalist, I get to work with people all over the country and work on standardizing things into the Sound way of managing hospitalized patients. Very often I step into roles where they're a little bit short staffed or possibly lacking — are always lacking a Chief Hospitalist. That's why I step in. My role then is to help everyone get organized into the Sound way of taking care of things, help with getting our staffing updated, and help us to take care of patients. I've been able to go to five different programs across the country at this point and each of the programs has become very well staffed and a very functional program before we've left that program. My job is to help stabilize things in that manner. Typically, it's a new start program — that's why it's unstable to begin with. We just don't have the personnel. We go in, we take over, we bring in new hospitalists, we teach everyone how Sound does things, we get that going, and then we hire a new Chief who comes in and takes over full-time for what I'm doing. This has allowed me to be able to go to many different sites across the country. I've worked anywhere from Georgia to the state of Washington. Currently I'm in Louisiana. I see a whole lot of different diverse areas. My wife has been able to come visit me at each of the sites and we spend some time uh seeing the different areas around where I'm working at that time. So it's been nice for the two of us. And, you know, for the most part, it's just really rewarding to see new programs take off, get their feet underneath them, so to speak, and become self sustaining.