Meet Dr. Friters, a Businessman Turned Locum Tenens Internal Medicine Physician

Dr. Friters decided at 39 years old to embark on his medical journey after an accomplished military and corporate career. These days he works as an internal medicine physician practicing locum tenens with the help of Interim Physicians. Dr. Friters draws from his unique background to make a positive difference in patient outcomes, all while working to fulfill his aspirations of becoming chief medical officer.  

Trading MBA for MD (For Now)

After graduating from West Point, Dr. Friters worked as an air defense artillery officer for the United States Army. In the civilian world, he successfully climbed the corporate ladder to executive vice president. While planning his next move, he recalls a comical conversation he had with his wife. 
“I’d been considering going to medical school for about 10 years, and I remember bringing it back up with my wife. She said, ‘Why don’t you just go get your MBA or something? Isn’t medical school a pretty dramatic life change at this stage in the game?’” 
But at the office, Dr. Friters was already seeing more financial success than his colleagues with MBAs from Ivy League schools. He planned to continue climbing the corporate ladder and eventually obtain his MBA as well. However, after one of his highly skilled, hardworking colleagues was laid off, Dr. Friters began to question the stability of that track. 

“I decided that what I really wanted to do is make a life-changing, moment-by-moment impact on people’s lives. And while I loved the corporate world, I knew that medicine was the only way for me to get what I was looking for.”  

"I decided that what I really wanted to do is make a life changing, moment-by-moment impact on people’s lives. And while I loved the corporate world, I knew that medicine was the only way for me to get what I was looking for."
Dr. Friters
On Choosing Medical School

As he worked his way through med school and residency, Dr. Friters found his business and customer experience skills afforded him better emotional intelligence to relate to patients, nurses, and additional medical staff.  

His hiring managers agreed. That’s how he secured an offer for a medical director position right out of residency—an unheard of but well-deserved opportunity. Not long after, he was promoted to VP of internal medicine. This accelerated leadership track makes sense given his background, and the fact that his Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) patient satisfaction scores remain through the roof to this day. 

“I work with people who are off-the-charts brilliant, and I’m humbled by their intellect,” begins Dr. Friters. “However, I will say that nobody gets along better with patients than me. I know how to take care of people and get them better quicker while making them feel better about the experience. Other people notice. And that’s where I’ve really developed a niche for myself.” 
That’s also why a three-letter acronym after his signature isn’t off the table just yet, he says. Dr. Friters always felt his medical career would take him to the path of leadership. 
“After I go back for my MBA in a couple of years, I want to be CMO. Not to be too full of myself, but when I’m in charge, things just seem to run a little better,” he laughs. 

A Reality Check & the Path to Autonomy

After Dr. Friters secured his medical director position post-residency, he was given three directives by his boss: get along well with nursing, get along with ER staff, and focus on HCAHPS scores. He excelled at all three.  

Dr. Friters was employed in a health system comprised of 41 hospitals. He said his particular hospital had consistently underperformed for years, ranking 36th when he took over. It didn’t take long for him to reverse the trend. After just 13 months with Dr. Friters, his hospital’s HCAHPS scores skyrocketed to the top. 

“I found that my prior experiences in the military and corporate world gave me unique insight into the customer experience—what they want and need. I integrated that into my practice. My boss took note of it. Everyone wanted to know what we were doing; they said I totally changed the culture, but all I did was leverage the talent that was already on the team.”   

"All my prior experiences in the military and corporate world gave me unique insight into the customer experience—what they want and need. I integrated that into my practice."
Dr. Friters
On practicing medicine

After seeing what Dr. Friters could do, his boss promised a hybrid leadership and clinical position to replicate the same results across some of the larger academic centers and hospitals. He was cautious, but as a 46-year-old doctor with just two years of medical experience, Dr. Friters felt he should take advantage of the opportunity. Unfortunately, reality wasn’t as attractive as the pot of gold he expected. 
“I was sent to these places where I was seeing around 30-35 patients a day with antiquated EMRs. I couldn’t provide the level of care I needed or wanted to. Colleagues were burning out right and left. ” 
So, Dr. Friters moved on to the next opportunity. He wound up chatting with a facility in Florida that was trying to launch a hospitalist program. The facility tasked him with building it from the ground up. Unfortunately, their plans to introduce the program fell through. Another false start. 
Over the years, Dr. Friters networked and developed a rapport with hospital leadership across several different hospitals. Another facility in Florida asked him to call if he ever found himself looking for a new opportunity. So, he did. It seemed like a great fit: better schools, lower cost of living.  
But once he worked eight days in Jacksonville, he was sent to Pensacola. Unfortunately, in Pensacola, he saw between 30-35 patients without admin support. It felt like the third strike. He tried to power through, but eventually, decided to explore military benefits for his family and approach his medical career independently. 
Like many physicians, Dr. Friters received phone calls from locum tenens recruiters every day asking him to pick up various shifts. The thought intrigued him. Initially, he worked as a full-time physician in one contract. But eventually, he discovered that he could work at a variety of hospitals as a 1099 employee—receiving tax benefits and a much higher earning potential without the stress of hospital politics. 
“With locums, I now work about 15 days a month and no nights, weekends, or holidays. I’m present for birthdays and for my family’s huge, annual Halloween party. For once, I have complete schedule autonomy and total control over where I am and what I make. Plus, I get to focus on what I’m good at, which is caring for my patients.” 
Although Dr. Friters worked with a few different locum tenens agencies, his relationship with Interim Physicians stands out for a reason – his recruiter, Jackie Byrd

Recruiting for the Future

Of all the recruiters who gave him a call, Dr. Friters immediately hit it off with Jackie. 
“I’ve always connected with people who are charismatic and genuine. Jackie’s style really resonated with me because her emotional intelligence is high, she’s in tune with where I want to work and what I want to do, and she’s extremely responsive.” Dr. Friters adds. “She’s my favorite recruiter. It’s been a great dynamic and one I hope continues long-term.” 

"I’ve always connected with people who are charismatic and genuine. Jackie's style really resonated with me. Let me tell you, she's is my favorite recruiter."
Dr. Friters
On working with Interim

For the past year, Jackie helped Dr. Friters secure locum tenens assignments in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Florida. He hopes to start taking additional locums assignments in Florida to be closer to his family. And in 2024, he plans to secure a handful of additional licenses in the Southeast for more opportunities.  
“Jackie’s friendship and our working relationship are extremely beneficial because she’s always looking out for good opportunities for me. Locums allows me to be present for the holidays and life events that are important to me, and I can provide my family with more opportunities as a result. Jackie has been instrumental in making that happen.”

This year, Dr. Friters took his children to Rome and London for spring break. And since his daughter plays soccer, hotel points come in handy for overnight stays during her tournaments.  
“The hotel and airline points are an extra form of pay and fund wonderful vacations that are above and beyond. I just celebrated my 20th wedding anniversary, so I figured why not spend a few nights at a nice hotel because my wife deserves it? Because of locums, I could.” 
After navigating hospital politics and being overworked, Dr. Friters is enjoying the locum life—until he makes good on that promise to become a CMO “when he grows up.” But in the meantime, we’re more than happy to supply him with as many assignments as he’d like.