On Purpose to Serve Others
An interview with:
Dr. Christopher Holloway, MD
TriStar Medical Group Family Practice at the Crossings
Grew up in Philadelphia & Virginia
Went to The University of Virginia School of Medicine
Has lived in Nashville for 17 years
Serves a community nearly every year in Honduras and/or Jamaica
Cared for 350 patients in one day in Honduras
Retired Major in the US Army Reserves
Won the Frist Humanitarian of the Year Award in 2016
How did you start in Medicine?
My Mother was a respiratory therapist who never missed an opportunity to educate me about science and its possibilities. On summer vacations, we frequented science museums before we visited the beach. She is responsible for my initial interest in a medical career. I went to college expecting to major in psychology, but excelled in the sciences, attracting the attention of departmental professors. With a gentle nudge and encouragement from them, I decided to change my focus towards becoming a doctor.
What makes your practice unique in our community?
We are very patient centric. Our patients describe our office as a very happy place. We have a great team. Rebecca Wilson and Jonathan Lee are fabulous nurse practitioners. We do everything we can to make it feel less like a doctor’s office. My dog, Jasper, comes in one day a week, we have themed rooms (Disney suite, Around-The-World Missions themed room, and a movie room which plays family friendly movies), music can be heard throughout the entire office, and we have positive sayings on the walls which help to create this desired atmosphere for our patients and staff alike. We go by the mnemonic “CARE” which stands for: Consistency, Acknowledgement, Responsiveness, and Environment. This focus reminds us as a team to intentionally create the proper environment and hopefully, a wonderful experience for our patients.
What are your goals for your patients?
We want to provide continuity and fantastic healthcare so that our patients know that we will be there for them from the womb to the tomb. We desire for them to have to confidence in the competence and care of their providers.
What is the culture that you infused into your practice?
The culture that we constantly talk about is being friendly, consistent, timely and following through on what we say we are going to do. Since our inception 5 years ago, we have seen between 150-200 new patients each month. I was at Southern Hills for 11 years before launching the new practice in Antioch. It has been a steadily growing practice because this zip code possesses a large demographic who previously drove downtown for healthcare solutions. We have been thrilled to bridge this gap by becoming the medical home for families of the Antioch and surrounding communities.
What are the staff’s foremost concerns?
With such rapid growth, and the increasing meaningful use requirements, maintaining the proper focus on the care of the patient is of highest concern. Going electronic with records has decreased our patient volume by about 20% over the past 8 years, yet the workload seems to have tripled. This impacts the quality that we want to provide to our patients, and also eats into needed family time after hours. Consequently, maintaining a proper work-life balance has all but fallen by the wayside. Prior to EMR a busy day was about 30-35 patients, but now with the burden of EMR a busy day consists of 25-30 patients. We see less patients but I still take home on average an hours’ worth of work. This added burden has led to an increase in staff and physician burn out across our industry.
How do you try and maintain a balanced life outside of work?
It can be quite a juggle. My family and I are heavily involved in our church and missions work. We are members of Joy Church International, located in Mt Juliet and love the community there. My wife Renay is my hero and such a pillar in our family! She is a sought after public speaker and influences many. She has encouraged the wives of major league athletic teams, and impacts people everywhere she goes. I have two wonderful kids, two dogs and love spending time with each of them. This is how I recharge and reset my perspective.
Have you ever been close to quitting?
Never! I believe this is what God has called me to do and I have always loved it. We really see the work that we do here as an opportunity to care for people. We have a prayer box where patients can submit needed prayer requests. One day each week, we pause as a staff and pray for the needs of the patients and staff alike. Patients have sometimes slipped and called me “Pastor” because of how I speak with them. It used to bother me, but I began to embrace this title because my work is my opportunity to make the greatest impact in someone’s life. I understand that people come here for a doctor, not a pastor, but we take the time to help people where they are, especially when they find themselves in an uncertain or scary place in life.
How has practicing medicine changed over the years?
Electronic medical records starting in 2011 have caused early burnout and an increased time burden. This has been the biggest challenge during my years as a physician. In some ways, the electronic medical record has imposed itself inside the patient room and wedged itself between the physician- patient relationship.
Who are some of your medical “hero’s”?
The reputation of Dr. Lanny Holmes, and the group he established is the reason I relocated to Nashville, TN. He is a leader, mentor to many young physicians- including myself, and a well-respected physician.
Dr. Barnett- he was the chair of Family Medicine at the University of Virginia school of medicine, with notable character and passion. He drilled home the mantra, “Patients don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
What motivates you?
I love people. I am motivated to do my very best. There is a Bible passage in Ecclesiastes that says, “it is a gift of God for man to enjoy the good of all his labor”. This is a gift that I don’t take for granted.
What methods do you employ to keep improving your knowledge and experience?
I read as much as possible. I go to medical conferences each year depending on what skill I want to sharpen. Medical knowledge is rapidly changing so if you fail to keep up, your usefulness as a doctor will become obsolete.
In what ways do you hope to see practicing medicine evolve in the future?
The current way of practicing doesn’t feel sustainable. It is currently more volume driven with unrealistic expectations. We need to get back to the basics and create a model that truly allows more time in front of the patient. This will minimize medical errors and provide the quality that we are after. The patients deserve it.
If you could offer any advice to younger physicians…what would it be?
I would encourage them to “follow their passion” and not a dollar sign. Passion will drive you to be your best and help to prevent burnout. If I can quote one of my mentors, “people will try to duplicate your vision, but they can’t duplicate your passion”.
Get to Know the Doc
Tell me about your role in the Army Reserves-
After an eight-year stint in the USAR I retired as a Major. I served as a military
Doctor at Clark Clinic (Fort Bragg, NC) and loved working with soldiers and their families.
Who is the most fascinating person that you have met?
The person I respect the most is my wife. She has strength of character with such a positive upbeat attitude even though she had a difficult background. She is one of the strongest people I know. I would be remiss not to include my parents who nurtured and supported my curiosities and helped to make my dreams a reality.
What was the last book you really got into?
“How Not to Die” it is a holistic approach to health
What movie do you recommend?
Greenbook! I saw it twice in the theater.
What are you passionate about?
I go on an annual missions trip. A group of multi-specialty practitioners visit Honduras to provide free healthcare to those who need it the most. The country has many needs allowing us to impact diverse situations. There was one trip where myself and another practitioner saw 350 patients in one day. We travel to some hard to reach places where many people have never before seen a doctor. We do this through an organization called “Global Networks”.
What hobbies would you like to get into if you had the time?
Cooking and golf
Among your friends, what are you best known for?
Humor and being a doctor (everyone wants to ask me questions about their health)
What is an accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Getting the Frist Humanitarian Award- it is an award given to one doctor in the HCA organization who “works selflessly to improve the lives of people in need, in their communities and around the world,” said Milton Johnson, CEO