A Sustainable Way to Work

Dr. Christine Munson

Trust is earned. For Dr. Christine Munson, chief of physiatry at Kaiser Permanente's Franklin Medical Offices, the quality of care her colleagues deliver and their patient-first approach to medicine have earned that status.

“The goal of providing great patient care is something I can get behind,” says Dr. Munson. “Fortunately, all of the physicians I work with are really good at what they do. I work in a multidisciplinary department, so I can walk down the hall and ask a surgeon about their personal opinion on a case, or be confident that whomever I refer my patients to will do a great job. Having the integrated model means we can learn from and rely on each other.”

While the collegial atmosphere at Colorado Permanente Medical Group benefits patient care, it also benefits career development. As the first physiatrist in neurosurgery, Dr. Christine Munson was able to build rapport with the surgeons and anesthesiologists within her department. Now leading a team of six as chief of physiatry, that history helped make the transition into leadership easy.

“It’s been an eye-opening experience for sure. In any leadership role, you have to work with people who have different personalities, ideas or goals, and overcome that together. But there are so many possibilities to improve as a department that, yeah, it can be challenging, but it’s also very rewarding.”

Although she acknowledges that the life of a physician will always be demanding, Dr. Munson has found that the culture of teamwork at CPMG helps make a rewarding work life and rich home life possible. This is something that she feels would never have been an option had she remained in private practice.

“There are always challenges anywhere you work. For me, the demands of private practice just weren’t sustainable. There, you work until everything is done. And since you have to do everything, there’s always a lot to do. It creeps into your home life. So you work late, do a little more work from home at night, maybe go into the office for a few hours on the weekend, skip an event here or cancel a vacation there. All those things add up.”

“I have two young children who I want to watch grow up. Most people don’t know this, but my husband stays home to care for them. When work becomes the 800-lb. gorilla and you feel like your time is not your own, that gets really stressful. I didn’t go into medicine because I thought it would be easy, but I needed a career where I felt like I could take more than a couple consecutive days off without neglecting my patients or, really, putting unfair demands on my colleagues.”

“That’s why CPMG has been such a great fit for me. I get to work with a great team that supports each other and celebrates each other’s accomplishments, so no one feels like they’re on an island. We can take an hour or half-hour lunch together and genuinely enjoy hearing about that vacation you just returned from. It’s a much more sustainable, healthier way to live – so much so that I can see myself here for a long time.” 

To learn more about how CPMG has helped Dr. Munson put patient care first, read part one of her story.

To learn more about working for CPMG, click here.