May 25, 2023
OPS member Kirin Palmer, MD opened the doors of her new practice, Pure Joy Pediatrics, last October and we stopped in to learn about her experience of becoming an independent provider.
Dr. Palmer graduated from Drexel University College of Medicine and completed her residency at Miami Children’s Hospital. She worked as a hospitalist in emergency pediatric care in South Florida before moving to Oregon, where she joined Sunset Pediatrics for several years before deciding to go out on her own.
The Ups and Downs of Solo Practice
The first thing Dr. Palmer did was join a physician entrepreneur group to benefit from their shared knowledge. Then she reached out to other independent practices in the area to learn tips, such as how to select the best EMR system to support a small business and ways to meet the demands of insurance companies – which, not surprisingly, turned out to be her biggest challenge. She found that although she is the same physician who has been providing care for her patients for many years, she had to go through the arduous process of re-contracting with the same insurance companies for her new business. And some are not even accessible unless you are part of a group. Dr. Palmer says this hurdle has helped her teach patient families to advocate for themselves with their insurance companies. And then there are the delights of being an independent provider. Dr. Palmer sees Pure Joy Pediatrics as a gift to her patients, parents, staff, and to herself. She keeps this in mind as she works to instill joy into everything she does, and into her patients’ experiences. This drives her to maintain a healthy work-life balance, ensuring that there is no night-time charting and that she follows the same parenting advice with her own son that she gives to her patients.
Physicians as Medical Homes
One thing Dr. Palmer found surprising is that it’s the physician, not the physical clinic, that is the true medical home. She learned this because she thought some patients – such as those who are neurodiverse – would be challenged when they saw her at a new clinic. In fact, they haven’t missed a beat because she is the same friendly face providing the same personal care and it drove this point home.
Investing in Fellow Pediatricians
Dr. Palmer says the journey of opening a new practice would have been far more difficult without the connection to and collaboration with other pediatricians, both in the Portland area and across the country. This realization has given her an interest in mentoring medical students and early career primary care physicians, and she hopes to learn more about how to make that happen. She wants to share the experience that creating Pure Joy Pediatrics has brought her so others can find joy and passion in their profession.