Michael Menchaca (G’15) graduated from the School of Nursing & Health Studies Family Nurse Practitioner Program five years ago. After a relatively short stint at a traditional fee-for-service clinic, he founded the Menchaca Family Clinic in Harlingen, Texas, using a direct primary care model. Its success has allowed him to open a second location.
I began to experience the onset of clinician burnout and thought there has to be a better way. For me, fee-for-service became the proverbial hamster wheel—all about numbers and processing insurance forms. How many patients can you see a day? Are you maximizing your per patient billing? It becomes more about what you can do to the patient than what you can do
I thought there has to be a better way—something akin to a gym membership that a patient can use whenever it is needed, convenient and at a reasonable monthly rate. I went home that night and googled “gym style membership family practice,” and discovered the direct primary care model, that works much like a gym membership.
Now I see fewer patients, but can give them better care, when they need it, and at a cost they can afford. There is less revenue generated, but the tradeoff is a much better quality of life for my family and me. And there are other benefits. When the coronavirus hit, we were already doing telemedicine, so it was a seamless transition for us. And my great grandfather, grandfather, and father were all entrepreneurs, so that desire was always there. I always thought I would jump in when I was 40, instead of 27, but it no longer made sense to wait.
- My iPad is indispensable for keeping patient records, with apps like Epocrates to check dosages and drug interactions and Spruce for HIPAA-compliant telemedicine.
- Stylus to jot fast notes down. Sometimes I will draw a simple graph for a patient to better understand the effect of the changes I am recommending.
- Bluetooth ear buds for virtual appointments and other meetings.
- Stethoscope for all the usual reasons.
- A pen because I still have occasion to write on paper— prescriptions or maybe a post-it note with a recommended vitamin.