Oakstone CME is excited to celebrate healthcare professionals like you this month! Each week we will be spotlighting one of our own contributors so you can get to know the people behind the content.
When Benjamin Frizner, MD, started college, his plan was to be an engineer or an accountant. He had always excelled at math, so it seemed to be a logical career path. But on a fateful day during his freshman year, he dissected a small pig in his intro to biology class, and he was hooked. “I fell in love with the anatomy of the pig and the cell biology,” recalls Ben, chief medical officer and regional director at M Medical Group in Washington DC.
He never considered being a physician because he thought you “had to be a genius” to get into medical school. Ben was smart, but he never thought of himself as a genius. Luckily, he had a friend whose brother was in medical school. He encouraged Ben to purse medicine, and advised him to work hard and want it. Ben changed his mind, never looked back, and now has spent18 years of practicing medicine.
Once he got into medical school, learning about diseases, their processes, and how to treat them fascinated Ben. As a self-proclaimed extrovert and people person, his profession allowed Ben to experience relationships he craved.
“Being a doctor is the perfect combination of learning about the body and diseases, and working with people, helping them through tough times in their life,” says Ben. “Every day is different. You meet new people. Patients always have something new going on. I have a super interesting job that never gets boring.”
After his third-year rotations, Ben decided to pursue internal medicine. “General internal medicine is like a big puzzle,” says Ben. “Everything gets meshed within it. And every day and every patient are new puzzles to solve.”
For 12 years Ben worked as a hospitalist and reveled in the challenges it brought. “It was invigorating to get a call from the ER telling me a patient had chest pain and shortness of breath or fever and weight loss,” he explains. “I’d see the patient right at the beginning, asses them, talk to them and their families, determine what tests they needed, and if they required surgery or a specialist. It was a lot of responsibility figuring out what was wrong, but it was also exciting and rewarding to guide them through their care. I was like the conductor of the symphony.”
Eight years ago, someone introduced Ben to the world of post-acute care and he’s loving work even more now. Practicing in skilled nursing facilities, Ben had to quickly learn the intricacies, regulations, and laws that govern this branch of internal medicine.
“This is what makes internal medicine so rewarding. Your training prepares you for working in a hospital, ICU, or nursing home,” says Ben. “Now, I can help families through the toughest part of their lives. When a patient has a catastrophic stroke or brain injury, I help take care of them and aid their families in making potentially tough end-of-life decisions. Working here has been even more rewarding than hospital work.”
Ben’s advice to residents is to listen to their hearts when picking a specialty. “Some people go into specialties because their parents or friends are in it, or because they think that’s where the money is. But they won’t necessarily be happy,” says Ben. “They should do what their minds and hearts tell them to do, because it’s their career and they’ll be much happier down the road.”
If Ben had to pick another career besides medicine, he’d love to be a professional golfer. “Everyone thinks it’s a stereotype that doctors play golf, but I’m one of the only doctors I know that plays golf,” he chuckles.
And Ben plays it as much as he can in his free time, which isn’t a lot because he’s the father of two active young boys who keep him busy. “I grew up skiing. So, taking them skiing and seeing them progress and do harder runs is gratifying,” says Ben. “They’re a lot of fun, and I just love hanging out with my family.”
Ben also loves giving back to his field by teaching and mentoring younger doctors. And while he used to teach when he was the director of hospital medicine, he doesn’t have that opportunity anymore. Now, he fulfills this part of his interests through Oakstone’s CME programs, specifically as clinical editor of Hospital Medicine Insider. “This is another way to give back to the younger docs coming up,” says Ben. “Staying up on the trends and what’s going on in the real world is important in CMEs, and it’s a terrific opportunity for me.”
Ben admits that with a busy career and family life, he must squeeze his own CMEs in where he can. So, whenever he’s in the car or just hanging out somewhere, he’ll listen to an audio program. And what makes it enjoyable for him is getting concise real-world information he can go right out onto the ward and use.