To open the office, PartnerMD hired Sandy Ibrahim, a young family doctor married to a Comcast engineer.
The daughter of Egyptian immigrants, Ibrahim, 35, studied microbiology at the University of Michigan in her hometown of Ann Arbor, then went to Wayne State Universityâ€™s medical school, one of the biggest producers of primary-care doctors in the country.
never considered any specialty but family medicine.
â€œI wanted continuity with the patient, to grow with them and become part of their family,â€ she
After finishing her
residency in 2003, Ibrahim
joined a practice in Fairfax, then another in McLean, but found neither satisfying.
raced through appointments and left work too exhausted to care for her
two young children.
As one of the younger doctors in both practices, she
was expected to make room in her
schedule for fevers, sore throats, stubbed toes, and other same-day emergencies.
â€œIt was urgent-care, pump-it-out, production-line work,â€ she
With a patient load of more than 2,000, she
struggled to make connections or even to remember names.
: â€œI would grab lunch at the grocery store, bump into a patient I had seen that morning, and not remember that I saw them.â€
Having decided it was time to leave clinical work, she began exploring jobs on Capitol Hill and research work at NIH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
After just five years in practice, she
was going to give up seeing patients and abandon a career that had been her
was scouting non-clinical jobs when she
heard about PartnerMD
attended one of the companyâ€™s recruiting events, where company officials and doctors mingled over cocktails.
went through a year of interviews and vetting, including trips to Richmond.
liked PartnerMDâ€™s promise that she
could spend the time with patients to practice medicine as she
had been trained.
sensed that the job would translate to a better balance of her
work and home life.
â€œYes, Iâ€™m a doctor,â€ she
adds. â€œBut Iâ€™m also a mom, a wife, a sister, and a daughter.
Nearly two years later, Ibrahim
has nearly 400 patients.
Though some are from her
old practice, she
didnâ€™t remember some when they showed up at PartnerMD
Each patient gets a yearly health assessment that includes bloodwork, a physical exam, and a session with a nutrition-and-fitness coach.
The process takes up to three hours.
old practice, Ibrahim
crammed physicals into 15 minutes.
On any day at PartnerMD
sees eight to ten patients, about a third of her
load before. â€œYou just get to know so much more about each person,â€ she
says. â€œI now have the kind of relationships with patients that probably took my former boss 15 to 20 years to make.â€
In the meantime, Sandy Ibrahim
own version of health-care reform.
practices medicine more cost-effectively now than she
old practice, with only ten minutes to see each patient, she
often ordered tests because she
didnâ€™t have time for a thorough evaluation.
can take her
time and focus on prevention and wellness.
recently added a second doctor to its McLean practiceâ€"Donald Rhodes, whoâ€™s a solo practitioner in Centreville.
That means Ibrahimâ€™s patient load shouldnâ€™t top 400 anytime soon.
resists the notion that her
care is elitist.
Many of her
patients arenâ€™t wealthy, she
Some pony up for PartnerMD
to get a doctor who has time to monitor a chronic illness closelyâ€"people with diabetes or heart disease or patients recovering from cancer treatment or surgeries. â€œThey want to make sure things arenâ€™t missed,â€ she
move into concierge practice to the teacher who decides to work in a private school: â€œItâ€™s a personal choice.â€
Sheâ€™s heard the argument that if more doctors go to concierge medicine, the shortage of physicians will only get worse for the average Joe. â€œWell, you almost lost me as a family doctor to a non-clinical job,â€ she says. â€œAt the end of the day, Iâ€™m a happy practicing doctor, which I think is much more important than being a disgruntled doctor whoâ€™s not practicing medicine.â€
Each time, Newland says, Ibrahim
has arranged for him to see specialists and watched over his care.