Resident’s Corner

Sean Rooks, MD

For this quarter’s edition of Resident’s Corner we will be talking with Brett Ziercher. Brett is originally from the Midwest, did his Emergency Medicine training at the University of New Mexico, and currently serves as the medical director at San Juan Regional Medical Center in Farmington. Today he is going to talk with us about some of the unique challenges he faces in his practice environment and how he has progressed through his career in Emergency Medicine.

Brett, tell us a little about yourself

I am originally from the Midwest but completed residency at the University of New Mexico. I started at SJRMC July 1st after graduating from UNM. That was definitely a big adjustment going so rapidly between those two systems. I’ve been working at SJRMC since finishing residency and currently reside in Durango.

Can you tell us a little about your career path and how you ended up in your current position?

After residency graduation I started worked at SJRMC. Initially I was just getting established in my career and working shifts. After a while, I participated in a variety of hospital committees that interested me: sepsis, ethics, quality review, process redesign. Eventually, there was an opening for medical director. I really felt that this was a very special job and didn’t want to see the culture and dynamic change, so I stepped up to try and preserve what I feel is a special work environment here at SJRMC. Working as the medical director has been a nice niche for me because it allows me to work from home more and spend time with my family.

What sort of unique challenges do you face in your ED?

Like a lot of places in New Mexico we have a large rural population with a lot of socioeconomic challenges. The city of Farmington is also very close to the Navajo reservation which strongly influences the culture of the city. For physicians who are not used to working with this patient population it can take time to adjust to the unique challenges this population faces.

San Juan Regional Medical Center is also owned by San Juan county. The county has a lot of pride in this hospital and there is a lot of support by leadership to improve the hospital, but we do have the challenges of functioning as the catchment center for the region.

What advice do you have for graduating residents?

The first few years out of residency it is important for a young attending to define the type of physician they will be when they aren’t being supervised. My advice would be to try and figure out what type of lifestyle you want to live as you move forward in your career. Also, be receptive to feedback both from your colleagues and your ancillary staff as you move forward and grow into your professional identity.

Awesome, thanks for taking the time to talk with New Mexico ACEP!

Thank you for having me!