In the dark cold days of winter, doctors in much of the country must occasionally dream about practicing on a tropical island where the palm trees sway in the soft ocean breezes and the patients are all grateful and compliant. Well, for FP Dan Pulsipher, that's more than a dream. He practices on Sanibel, an idyllic 12-mile island located just off southwest Florida's Gulf Coast. Because of its sunny climate and sandy beaches, Sanibel's 6,000 year-round population more than quadruples during the winter tourist season, when temperatures are in the 70s and 80s. (They rise to the 80s and 90s during the summer, but are tempered by gentle sea breezes.)
Pulsipher had worked for several years at urgent care clinics in central Georgia, but their managerial and financial instability led him to look elsewhere. When he was offered the solo job at Sanibel, with an excellent salary and benefits, he jumped at it. Now, after nearly two years there, he says, "This place really is truly a paradise. I feel like I've died and gone to heaven."
He's equally pleased with his patients, a diverse mixture of US and foreign tourists, retirees, shopkeepers, resort and restaurant workers, and local fishermen. "You couldn't ask for a better clientele," he says. "They're friendly and appreciative, and they're generally pro-active about their own health, which makes my job easier."
For much of the year, Pulsipher gets home in time for beachcombing walks with his wife and their two dogs. But in the busy winter season, he often puts in 12-hour days, with no break for lunch.
As in any paradise, life on Sanibel has its drawbacks. Only six feet above sea level, the island offers little protection from the hurricanes that sweep across Florida and the Gulf. Then there's the traffic. During the tourist season, cars often inch along the island's few roads and back up on the causeway that connects Sanibel to the mainland. At such times, Pulsipher's normal half-hour commute to work from his home in Fort Myers can take more than an hour. Even when he's stuck on the causeway, however, he enjoys watching the dolphins jumping in the water, and the pelicans cruising by at eye level.
Do you have a dream practice?
Tell us about it, and we may feature it on the pages of Medical Economics. Send your information to email@example.com
, clearly marked "Dream Practice," or mail it to 123 Tice Boulevard, Suite 300, Woodcliff Lake, NJ 07677-7664.