In honor of National Doctors’s day meet PDH’s Dr. Erin Barnes
National Doctors’ Day is celebrated annually on March 30. It is a holiday that honors physicians for the work they do for their patients, the communities they work in, and society as a whole. Plumas District Hospital is taking time this week to print interviews that they conducted with some of their physicians. Following is the interview conducted with Dr. Erin Barnes:
- Who are you and what do you do?
- I am Dr. Erin Barnes, and I have been at PDH going on 13 years now. I am a family practice doctor. So I work in the clinic, seeing all kinds of patients, and I work in the hospital as a hospitalist, and then I also work shifts in the emergency room once a month.
- How did you first hear about Quincy, and Plumas District Hospital?
- So I had never heard of the town Quincy. I was living and working in Sacramento as a locum in a clinic. I then saw an ad in American Family Physician magazine, which Dr. Jeff Kepple had placed, saying that they were looking for family practice doctors that were doing Obstetrics. Obstetrics was my passion and I really wanted to do OB but was having a hard time figuring out how to do it in the City. So, I cold called Dr. Kepple, whose cell phone number was on the ad, at 9 o’ clock at night. We had this great conversation. He said “Well I think you would be a good fit, you should come up and visit.” So Easter weekend, 2010, I came up to visit Quincy and it was snowing. I drove up the canyon and it was so beautiful, I found myself thinking “Oh my gosh, I could totally live here.” I had a good interview and ate dinner at Pangaea. By the end, I felt like it was a place I wanted to go. I still had some commitments to see through in Sacramento, so I signed on as a locum initially for two months. About 6 weeks into that, I told Plumas District Hospital that “I wanted to stay forever. It was just one of those fortuitous things.”
- What is something that you like about living in the Quincy area?
- The mountains were the biggest initial draw for me. I am a hiker, skier, and cyclist, so I just love everything to do with the mountains. Now that I have been here a long time, I really value the community. It’s a great place to raise kids and it’s safe. It’s a community where people watch out for each other. I could not imagine living back in the city, really ever again.
- How would you describe your practices (Adult and Pediatric Medicine, Obstetrics, Gynecology) with someone who is not familiar?
- I tell people that I basically see anyone who walks in the door. From newborns to people who are 100 years old. In regards to obstetrics, I currently only provide prenatal care, being as we are not delivering at the hospital. This includes taking care of pregnant women during their pregnancy, screening them for pregnancy related issues. For kids, I do a lot of well child checks; seeing them once a year for immunizations, and seeing them when they are sick. Specific to gynecology, I do a lot of procedures related to women’s health, contraception, screening for gynecological cancers, etc.
- Out of all the disciplines in medicine, what drew you to Family Medicine and Obstetrics?
- During medical school I was really torn between family medicine, pediatrics, and OB/GYN. I realized that I wouldn’t be happy just doing one of those. I didn’t like the idea of delivering a baby and not being able to care for it after. I didn’t like the idea of just seeing kids, as I felt that I would need more variety. So really, family medicine was the best fit as it allowed me to do both. I also knew that I wanted to practice in a rural environment, which family medicine is uniquely suited for since our scope of training is so broad.
- Where did your desire to practice rural medicine come from?
- I grew up in a city of 300,000 people. The funny thing is, my whole life growing up I always wanted to live in a small town. I never really liked living in the city. It is also a very different type of medicine, when compared to most city practices. We don’t have many specialists at PDH, with the exception of a cardiologist and an orthopedist. You are managing more complex situations as a provider here. Mostly, I like the variety that practicing rural medicine has to offer. I like procedures, I like hospital medicine, I like clinic medicine, and I like taking care of pregnant mothers and their babies. Rural medicine is unique, as it is one of the few places where you can do all of those things.
- What do you find most rewarding about the work that you do?
- I think the most rewarding thing about the work that I do are the long-standing relationships that I have with my patients. I enjoy the feeling that I am providing a service to our community. In Quincy my patients are a part of my life to a large degree. My kids go to school with their kids and play on the same soccer team. I might be the den leader in Scouts for their kids. As much as they are my patients, they are also friends. In a big city, like when I practiced in Sacramento, I almost never saw any of my patients out and about. It is a way different relationship.
- What do you find challenging about your work as a Family Practice Provider?
- Sometimes there can be trouble with boundaries in rural medicine. There is not a lot of us, so the feeling that we need to always be on call and available for everything is a challenge.
- When you are not providing care, what do you like to do in your free time?
- Most of my free time these days is spent with my children doing family activities. The remainder of my free time is spent riding my bike. I am an avid cyclist who likes to ride every day if possible. During the winter I enjoy backcountry and cross country skiing locally. During the summer we enjoy going on family camping trips both locally and in Ketchum, Idaho.