The Life of PRMS: Ann McNary, Senior Risk Manager

Almost 30 years ago, I left law school with the dream of becoming a charismatic family law professor (and my having watched a few too many episodes of Arnie Becker’s escapades on LA Law), as I had it in my head that negotiating divorces would be a really fun way to spend my career. It wasn’t long before I realized that this had not been my best idea and began considering finding another area of practice. One day purely by chance, I happened upon an opening for an attorney at a medical malpractice insurance company. Honestly I had no clue of what this would entail, but I knew and liked the woman who would be my boss, and it just had to be better than arguing over china and dog visitation, so I took a leap of faith and accepted the job.

In my initial position, I helped to supervise the claims department and also assisted in risk management taking calls from insureds and giving risk management talks. I have to admit that at first I was intimidated (strike that – terrified) by the fact that I was actually going to be giving advice to doctors. I quickly realized, however, that physicians are kind people who crave knowledge and were appreciative of what I had to share. I grew to love this type of work and stayed at that job for eight years and later took another job at a second medical malpractice insurance company where I remained for five years before coming to the Risk Management department at PRMS.

Having worked for companies that insured all specialties, I wondered at first if I would find less interesting to work with just one specialty. What sorts of challenges could there be for me in advising psychiatrists? I was about to find out. Psychiatrists, I quickly learned, are in a league of their own. Over the last eight years (has it really been eight years???) I have heard amazing stories of psychiatrists dealing with the most complicated of patients and have marveled at the level of care they have shown and their willingness to go the extra mile with patients who are often not easy to treat or always appreciative of their efforts.

Whenever I hear people bashing physicians, I wish they could see the side of them that I see.  I get to spend my day talking to intelligent, caring people. Many have made me laugh and a few have brought me to tears.  Many have been so delightful to speak to that I wish they would call more often.  I love the challenge of working together with a psychiatrist (often taking into account, legal, ethical and standard of care requirements), and coming up with a solution that benefits both doctor and patient. 

When I’m not manning the RMCS helpline, I also spend time giving talks to various psychiatry groups and educating residents through our PRMS Residents Education Program (PREP®) as well as writing articles and editing our quarterly newsletter Rx for Risk. I didn’t have the aptitude to go to medical school but in speaking to and educating physicians, and helping them work through various patient care issues, in my own small way I feel like I’m making a contribution to healthcare.

Categories: PRMS Blog, Life of PRMS