We recently spoke with Dr. Nathan Schlicher about working with TeamHealth, his recent awards of being named one EMRA’s 45 Under 45 and Becker’s Hospital Review’s Rising Stars: 66 Leaders in Healthcare Under 40, and his passion for healthcare and healthcare advocacy.
Congratulations on being awarded EMRA’s 45 Under 45! How does that feel?
Dr. Schlicher: It’s a great honor. You look at the list of people that were awarded, and it’s just humbling to be even considered in the same class as them. So, truly an honor. It’s been a lot of fun working with EMRA over my roughly 15 years in medicine now. It’s nice to still be young enough to qualify for the award despite being around forever!
Why were you recognized by EMRA with this award?
Dr. Schlicher: It’s a couple of things. I’ve been involved in advocacy and work on health policy from the beginning of my career. I was a legislative advisor for EMRA when I was on the national board a decade ago and created The Emergency Medicine Advocacy Handbook, now in its fifth edition, which has become a resource for residents and attending physicians who want to be involved in health policy.
Out of that came my passion for working on improving healthcare with the “ER for Emergencies” program that worked to better integrate healthcare, address the high utilizers in the ER, and tackle the issue of the opioid epidemic nearly a decade ago. Now we are working to take those experiences across the country and more importantly across the house of Medicine to other specialties that prescribe opioids as well. I think these programs working together not only change the way that physicians engage in advocacy but changed the way we deliver care for our patients in Washington and beyond.
Tell me about your relationship with TeamHealth. I understand it’s a long one. What brought you here and what continues to keep you here as your practice of choice?
Dr. Schlicher: I’ve been with TeamHealth for over 10 years now, so I guess I’m one of the old guys. The funny thing is that it was not by design. I came out of residency in the middle of the Great Recession in 2009, and there were no jobs in the greater Seattle metropolitan area, other than one with TeamHealth at St. Joseph’s Medical Center, the urban trauma center in Tacoma, Washington. My wife wanted to move home, and I wanted to move home. I remember interviewing with Dr. Gar La Salle. He said, “I’ve got one spot, and I’ve got an offer out to a kid from Yale. I’ll give you the same offer. Whoever takes it first gets the spot.” I called back an hour later and said, “I’ll take it.” Since I wanted to move home and was told by my wife we would, I took it!
Like much of life, I think fate worked out pretty well. I met a great mentor in Dr. La Salle, who was TeamHealth’s first Chief Medical Officer. I worked closely with him on the Patient Safety Organization and risk management given my legal background. I have always felt I had the support of the company to define my role as the Regional Director of Quality Assurance. I have joked some days; my role is the fixer in my group. When a problem arises, I tackle it for us, and that’s an amazing gift of flexibility and purpose. To be able to use my skill-set to help improve patient care across the state beyond the four walls of the ED with a company that so supportive is pretty unique.
Small groups would have a real hard time doing that, and a lot of big groups wouldn’t see the value in it. TeamHealth is unique in that we do support the passions of our physicians. I’ve been grateful for that support and that opportunity for over a decade, and I look forward to it in my work with TeamHealth in the future.
How does TeamHealth support you in your efforts to help improve the specialty of emergency medicine and, overall, the quality of patient care?
Dr. Schlicher: TeamHealth has been great because I have the support of the group of physicians I work with every day. When I’ve needed to move shifts, they have it covered so I could go advocate for our specialty, our people and our patients. They never hesitated to accommodate a ridiculous number of times that TV crews have come through or I’ve run off to the legislature. Having an amazingly supportive group that’s willing to help in the day to day has been wonderful. From TeamHealth’s side, it’s been great having the ability to have a role that is flexible and unique that allows me to carve out my work based on my passion for healthcare advocacy and the needs of the group at the moment.
If you’re attending your American College of Emergency Physicians Scientific Assembly is in Denver, Colorado this year, Dr. Schlicher will be presenting on risk management and legislation that impacts the delivery of emergency medicine. You can view #ACEP19 Meet Our Speakers page for more information, dates and times.
TeamHealth currently has openings in emergency medicine throughout the Western United States! Join a team that supports you and recognizes your impact in providing excellent patient care.