Dr. Flaim

Schaun Flaim, D.O., has always enjoyed a challenge.

At 10 years of age, Flaim took anatomy books along for a little light reading during family vacations.

After high school, Flaim left his rural, southwest Wyoming home to try out urban America, getting a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Today, Flaim is working on his pilot’s license.

And perhaps most importantly, Flaim is also excited by the challenge of rejuvenating critical care as an internal medicine physician at Texas County Memorial Hospital in Houston.

Flaim was always interested in medicine. His mother is a nurse and since he was a small child, he wanted to be a doctor. Out of college, he traveled from the West Coast to the heart of the Midwest to pursue medical school at A.T. Still University in Kirksville, an osteopathic medical school.

There were several reasons Kirksville was Flaim’s first choice for medical school. His college roommate introduced him to the university. Flaim was also interested in the osteopathic side of medicine.

“In osteopathy, I found a general holistic approach to treating patients gelled with what I wanted to do as a doctor,” Flaim explained.

“I went to Kirksville expecting to be there for two years, and ended up being there for eight years,” Flaim said with laugh. “I like small towns, and it was good fit for my family.”

Flaim found a home and the opportunity to be an osteopathic manipulative medicine fellow at A.T. Still University after medical school. He used the year for in-depth learning about osteopathic manipulative medicine – a practice that takes into account the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health of a patient and how each aspect could be contributing to the disease state. Flaim also served as associate faculty for the university, teaching internal medicine courses to first- and second-year medical students.

Why internal medicine? Again, Flaim enjoys a challenge.

“I like the complexity of internal medicine patients,” he explained.

Traditional internal medicine patients are adults, and they have multiple complex and chronic medical conditions.

One rotation in a pediatric intensive care unit solidified Flaim’s interest in adult care.

“Mentally, I don’t do well with really sick kids,” Flaim said. “It’s hard to understand why a 5-year-old died.”

However, as someone that treats adult patients, particularly a lot of elderly patients, Flaim has special interest in helping families transition as their loved ones require more critical care and may eventually die in his care.

“I actually enjoy helping my patient’s family members go through the process and deal with their loss,” Flaim explained. “It’s something that many physicians don’t do a good job at, so I try to excel in providing care to dying patients and their family members.”

Many internal medicine physicians have left traditional inpatient/outpatient or hospital/clinic practices to become hospitalists – seeing patients only in a hospital inpatient setting. Flaim wouldn’t trade away his role as a traditional internal medicine physician, though.

“A patient in the hospital is just a snapshot of time for a patient,” Flaim said, explaining that he enjoys the continuity of care that comes with taking care of a patient in a clinic setting. “Practicing good care in the clinic helps keep patients out of the hospital.”

Flaim has also learned that providing good care to one patient may lead to taking care of that patient’s entire family, something he also enjoys about his clinic practice.

Upon completing his residency at Northeast Regional Medical Center in Kirksville, Flaim took a position in Rolla working at Phelps County Regional Medical Center and an internal medicine clinic that was part of the hospital.

Flaim found that he wasn’t particularly satisfied with his role at the hospital and clinic after a little over a year of practice. At the same time, his friend and now fiancée, Gretchen Price, D.O., was going into her third year of residency at Kirksville and looking a physician positions in Missouri.

Price ultimately decided to sign with TCMH in October 2009, and Flaim gave serious consideration to moving south down U.S. 63 as well.

To no surprise, it was a challenge.

“The size of the town and the hospital were a draw to me,” Flaim said. “Being in an isolated place challenges your skills more.”

Flaim was drawn to the idea of rejuvenating critical care at the hospital, which had not had an internal medicine physician practicing in the intensive care unit since 2008. At TCMH there weren’t specialists of all types waiting to manage various aspects of a patient’s care; critical care at TCMH relies on the skill of the internist.

“At TCMH, I believe I can make a better impact on healthcare,” Flaim said, noting that families don’t want their loved ones to be in hospitals far from home. Flaim hopes to keep more patients at TCMH where he can provide the necessary critical care.

Flaim also found a kinship in his personal beliefs about healthcare and the mission of the TCMH board, administration and medical staff.

“TCMH is patient focused, and everyone is driven to provide excellent patient care,” Flaim said. He also has found that the hospital and clinic staff is like extended family.

Flaim’s family includes two sons, Caleb, 8, and Eli, 6. The boys are already signed up to play ball in Houston this summer and with them, Flaim enjoys anything that involves the outdoors -fishing, biking, hiking and camping.

Flaim is working on getting his pilot’s license.

“It’s like taking boards,” he quipped, describing the amount of information covered in a pilot’s license exam.

In October, he and Price plan to marry, truly cementing the family he works with at TCMH.

Flaim and Price met when Price was in medical school. Flaim was one of her instructors. “We have always worked well together,” Flaim said. “I’m excited to work with her here.”

In addition to his clinic and hospital practice, Flaim brings a variety of specialized services to his patients. He does endoscopy, broncoscopy and stress testing. He will read echocardiograms and electrocardiograms at the hospital.

Flaim is passionate about practicing excellent critical care in the hospital, but he prefers that his patients don’t end up needing his critical care skills.

“My hope is that I get people plugged into managing their healthcare so I don’t have to be their critical care doctor,” Flaim said. “I enjoy practicing preventative health with my patients, too.”

Flaim sees patients at the TCMH Medical Complex in Houston. Appointments can be made by calling Flaim’s office at 417-967-5435.

 

 

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