• On the frontlines of COVID-19: From infected to vaccinated

    Link to the article: https://locumstory.com/spotlight/frontlines-covid-infected-vaccinated/
    February 10, 2021

    They say doctors don’t get sick. Call it machismo, call it pride, or call it a steadfast devotion to our patients, who we feel need us to stand strong as we commit ourselves to treating their illness.

    So when, during the early months of the pandemic in April, I came back to my house and began to feel dizzy, lightheaded, and warm, I knew something was wrong. I rushed up to my bedroom, grabbed the temperature gun, and aimed it at my forehead. I heard a beep, then saw a dark, red flash. 102.4. That image will forever be with me.


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  • How COVID exposed the underbelly of our healthcare system (and what we can do about it).

    Link to the article: https://locumstory.com/spotlight/covid-emergency-medicine/
    December 13, 2020

    Ripal H. Patel, MD, MPH, shares his thoughts on how COVID-19 has changed healthcare and what it means for physicians.

    I was on a run of four twelve-hour shifts in south New Mexico. I was exhausted, dehydrated, weak, and my back throbbed after having finished sewing up a patient’s leg that had been flayed open from a tractor injury. As I wobbled back to my desk, I saw seven new patients had checked in. That flashing white of them being “unassigned” on our large TV patient tracker haunted me. I still had several discharges to do, finish a procedure note for that leg, then see what was remaining. Nursing hadn’t notified me that any of them were acute, but the ER was in such chaos who knew.


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  • Race and Medicine: What will bring us together?

    Link to the article: https://locumstory.com/spotlight/race-medicine/
    July 31, 2020

    Ripal H. Patel, MD, MPH, shares his thoughts on race and medicine as a locum tenens emergency medicine physician.

    Watching the thousands gather in downtown Houston to support the Black Lives Matter movement. Some wearing masks and many not. Fears of tear gas, breathing, and sweat — a petri dish for COVID-19. The coronavirus — invisible to the eye — looking for a new host, with a blind eye to race or politics. Infect. Just infect.

    How is a physician, passionate about human rights and demolishing institutional racism, to reconcile this moment in history?


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  • The Freedom of Locums Tenens

    Link to the article: https://locumstory.com/spotlight/er-physician-loves-the-freedom-of-locum-tenens/
    June 15, 2020

    Dr. Ripal Patel, MD, M.P.H. nods with an understanding smile when fellow ER physicians chronicle the trials of their full-time positions. Working days they didn’t want to work. Missing family events. Navigating ever-shifting hospital politics. Attending staff meetings on days off. Trudging through the same workplace environment every day. Feeling little control over one’s schedule or, worse still, over one’s own career. He experienced the same frustrations, and tolerated them for only so long.


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  • Global Health in Haiti

    Link to the article: https://myhaititeam.org/?p=20
    June 15, 2020

    I’m writing this blog post simply as a reflection of the incredibly meaningful and impactful experience I have had with the THMT. This was my second mission trip with them so far as an Emergency Medicine physician.

    I’ll never forget how our last trip started: we arrived into Port-au-Price, and upon exiting the airport and walking into the scorching heat, realized our truck – that would be taking us to the village – had a flat. No fancy tools in Haiti: a rush metal rod, some make-shift propping mechanism for the vehicle, and POOF the tire was changed. Looking at our team members – basking in the heat while we waited – I was beyond humbled how no one was phased by this hiccup in our travels. I’m accustomed to the travel adage “everything you think can go wrong likely will;” but to see that internalized and shrugged off by the other members made me realize what a unique group THMT attracts.


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  • Dr. Patel: Saving Lives During the Pandemic Through Locums Service

    Link to the article: https://locumstory.com/spotlight/emergency-medicine-locums-coronavirus/
    May 01, 2020

    Outbreak. Epidemic. Pandemic.

    Sweating under my personal protective gear, I look wearily through the foggy face-shield to see the number of patients in the waiting room rising from 5, to 10, to 15, to 20. I sigh, my heart palpitating, wondering how I will get through this. Our carts are low on masks, we only have two isolation rooms, and testing is still limited. We are all scared. We are walking on a tight-rope — a system at near-capacity — hoping we can cross the wire, in deep fear that a surge may tip us over.


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  • A Full-Time Locums Career

    Link to the article: https://dev.physiciansweekly.com/a-full-time-locums-career/
    October 25, 2019

    When I first met James, I was a physician just out of training. James had arrived as a locum tenens physician at my permanent job. He was energetic, enthusiastic, and seemed incredibly refreshed. As he explained to me what he did, I went from disbelief to awe. This finally morphed into suppressed anger.

    I felt my life was in disarray: constant weekends, never getting the holidays I wanted, and the schedule flipping: harsh night to day conversions and vice-versa. I lived in a constant state of exhaustion, trapped in a position I had imagined would be my only future. I wanted to plant roots and become involved in administration. I was under the impression the pay would justify it. Unfortunately, the “RVU multiplier” model was not panning out according to what I had been promised–more like taking a dart, hurling it at a board, and that would be my monthly paycheck.


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  • Locums Life and Lodging: Hotels vs. AirBnB

    Link to the article: https://locumstory.com/spotlight/locum-tenens-housing/
    April 27, 2019

    Locums has become my life: it is essentially all that I live, breath, and do, and has allowed me to take firm control of my practice and deliver emergency care - on my terms.

    With that has come travel. Lots of travel. As in the TSA agents shouting “What’s up Rip” when I’m in security; the Enterprise employees asking me about my cousins prior birthday at St. Arnold’s Brewery in Houston; and the rental car shuttle driver at Sunport in Albuquerque wondering how my prior trip to Egypt was. When travel became my life, I knew my lodging choice would be critical in ensuring my happiness on assignments.

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