By Dr. Julie Schroeder
Call it a mid-life crisis if you will. Or maybe it’s just enough years of life experience that leads one to know that there are options in life and that those that seemed pretty scary before might be worth the risk now.
I always knew I would be a doctor. My mom tells stories of me watching medical shows at the age of 3. After high school, I looked for a college with a good pre-med program and landed at Valparaiso University in Indiana. I appreciated being able to integrate my faith with my science education. When it came time for medical school, I was fortunate to continue that integrated experience at Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine in Chicago. Medicine is a science, but also an art. For me, and for many others, part of that art is rooted in our faith beliefs.
I entered medical school thinking I wanted to be a pediatric surgeon. My first clinical rotation was surgery. Nope — didn’t like that. Next was pediatrics. Another no. (At this point my parents panicked a bit that I was going to decide “no” to the whole doctor thing.) Then I did my rotation in family medicine. This was it. Some seem to think family medicine is boring but I can tell you no two days are ever the same. The variety of ages, people and stories make me love being able to treat patients from birth to grave.
I have practiced family medicine in the Quad Cities for over 20 years with experience on both sides of the Mississippi River. I have been lucky enough to work for independent practices that have been willing to let me push the boundaries a bit to make my practice more relationship-based like it should be. However, the economic reality of health care today makes this a difficult thing to do and financially stay afloat. I have also been fortunate to work part-time, which has let me be active in my other roles that I cherish as a wife, mother and church member.
I found myself a few years ago wanting to make a change in my career. I prayed that God would let me know if that was the right thing to do then. I felt like I got a “no.” So, I stayed the course and continued to pray. About a year and a half ago, I felt the answer was changing. But what would I do next? I had ideas, but nothing firm. I really felt that God was challenging me to take a step out in faith. With no specific plan but the support of my family, I made the decision to leave my practice and see where God led me.
I attended a couple of conferences that brought new insight and knowledge but nothing definite. Then, out of the blue, I received an email last fall from a group trying to get a Christian-based, primary care clinic started in the Quad Cities. They had been looking for a provider for over a year. Now this was interesting! We talked, we prayed. I don’t remember praying for patience, but I must have, because God’s timetable for this project was about a year behind mine. I thought I could open this clinic by January 2020, then March … June … August. God willing, it will be next month, November 2020.
We all know God’s timing is the best timing; it is just usually easier to see that in hindsight. My time off allowed me to help my parents and in-laws through some medical crises. I got to take a three-week trip of a lifetime with my husband and our teenagers that would have been impossible this year. I was home for all the highlights and then lowlights of my daughter’s senior year. I got to spend so much extra time with my family through quarantine. All priceless.
Now it seems the hurdles that have slowed me down are falling in a hurry. I am so excited to be partnering with Life and Family Educational Trust to open the first direct primary care clinic in the Quad Cities. I will not only be allowed, but also encouraged to practice medicine — both the science and the art — from a place of love as modeled by Christ. I look forward to sharing more about Life & Family Medical Clinic in Bettendorf soon.
If you find yourself in the position to make a significant change in your life, first pray and then listen. Be willing to take the step in faith and then trust in God’s planning and timing.
(Dr. Julie Schroeder is the medical director of the Life & Family Medical Clinic, opening soon in Bettendorf.)