The Meet the Board series presents brief profiles of the Endocrinology Network board members.
1. Please state your name, title, and the organization you work for.
Jeff Unger, MD, FACE; Director, Unger Primary Care Concierge Medical Group; Rancho Cucamonga, CA.
2. Why did you choose your profession?
I am a third generation physician. My grandfather and father were both physicians—allergists. I had always dreamed of following in their footsteps.
3. What is the most rewarding part of your practice?
The most rewarding part of my practice is being honored with the privilege of helping my patients achieve their glycemic targets. We are all team mates in diabetes intensification.
4. What is the most challenging part of your practice?
The most challenging part of my practice is government regulation. I am not a fan of meaningful use or EMR, which have never been shown to improve long-term outcomes. EMR and government defined glycemic targets have no role in the customized management of my patients or any others. As clinicians, we need to rely on our hearts, brains, and hands to improve our patients’ individualized goals and to motivate them to become better at diabetes self-management. The government and computers need to stay out of private medicine.
5. What one thing would you like to see change in your field?
I would like to see the requirement for cardiovascular outcome studies on diabetes medicines to stop. These studies are expensive and simply increase the cost of medications for our patients. The studies rarely provide us with any useful data.
6. What is the best piece of career advice you received?
The best career advice I ever received was from myself. In 2005 I reduced my daily patient load from 40 + patients a day to just 18. I stopped making mistakes and rash decisions about patient care, while beginning to enjoy the practice of medicine. My medical group actually fired me because I was spending so much time with each patient. After being fired, I felt a sense of relief and freedom. Now, in my concierge practice I am seeing just 10 patients a day. Everyone is doing well and I can get home to my wife and family at a reasonable time.
7. How do you picture the future of endocrinology?
I am NOT an endocrinologist, but a board certified family physician who practices intensive diabetology. I would like to see professional societies, such as AACE welcome more PCPs into their ranks. We need to educate our PCPs to be front line directors of intensive diabetes care.
8. What do you most enjoy doing when you’re not working?
In my spare time, I enjoy relaxing on a warm beach with my lovely wife, Lisa. We go to Jamaica every year and all I do is sit on the pier at the resort and watch the waves flow in and out. After 7 days I am ready to come home and start working with patients once again. No alcohol, no drugs, just the sound of the waves seems to re-wire my brain.
Jeff Unger and his daughter Chelsea during the father-daughter dance.