The first time I spoke with Justin Moore, MD, I felt like I’d known him for years. His enthusiasm is infectious, and he speaks about being a critical care doctor as persuasively as a preacher on Sunday. He’s much more than an evangelist though – he walks the walk. He recently completed a locum tenens assignment with Interim Physicians, and he regaled me with so many stories we may write a regular series about Dr. Moore even though he made my eyes well up more than once. But that’s life in the ICU.Dr. Moore’s journey to the ICU is full of twists and turns. For starters, he never aspired to become a doctor. “It wasn’t something I knew anything about,” he says. His high school GPA was 1.98, and that was before he got kicked out – twice. “I had no direction. None,” says Dr. Moore. “I didn’t even graduate from high school. I got a GED.” It’s true, though he grew up in the sunny citrus and olive groves of the San Juoaquin Valley, the future-doctor Moore’s adolescence wasn’t all sunshine. It took a big change and a lot of help from an unlikely spiritual source to point him in a positive direction.
He also joined the Army, and it’s there that he decided to go to med school to become…a podiatrist! That’s right, while Dr. Moore and the other new recruiters were getting shots and such one day, he noticed a guy walking around who seemed to own the place. So, then-Private Moore asked, “What do you do, sir?” The booming response: “I’m a podiatrist!” Later, an officer suggested that Moore go to medical school.
Fast forward to Dr. Moore’s third and fourth year of training in Chicago at the Cook County Hospital – one of the largest high-risk birth and trauma units in the U.S.– though Dr. Moore was still focused on podiatry. One day, a patient wandered into podiatry complaining that he’d missed his appointment to get his chest staples removed…and…well, you really don’t want to know how our doctor-in-training attempted to help. Let’s just say it prompted a newfound love for Emergency Medicine (encouraged by the head of podiatry) and the not-yet-doctor-Moore scrambled to get into an Internal Medicine program. Following fellowships in St. Louis and Minneapolis, and residency in East Tennessee, Dr. Moore completed his internship in Charleston, West Virginia, where he fell in love with critical care medicine.
You could say Dr. Moore beat feet to work in the ICU. I know Dr. Moore’s patients – and their families (an important distinction) – are the first to say how glad they are he’s in the ICU and they’re effusive about their feelings for him, using words like “cherished” and even “revered” to describe him.
One patient’s daughter posted this photo of her mom and Dr. Moore on social media with this sentiment: “You have doctors and nurses that come and go, then you have doctors like this that make a difference. Mom had told Dr. Moore that she wanted a date if he could get her better. Today ends his three-week routine and tonight he surprised her with a “date.” I’m pretty sure my heart couldn’t be filled with love as much as it is right now. My mom has had a tough weekend and today she is feeling some love. Yes, he is married and has children – this is just a friendship date…lol…but today is something she will always remember. Her doctor has been amazing and has gone above and beyond for mom and for this I am grateful.”
Dr. Moore has more stories to tell, so we’ll continue in part two, but I had to share his answer to this question: What’s the one thing you want people to remember about you?
He’s so slow to reply I think I’ve lost our connection, but then Dr. Moore says, “I want people to remember that I genuinely cared for my patients and their families. That I loved them.” (Now I need a tissue) “I genuinely cherish what I’m allowed to do. It breaks my heart when I see a doctor who doesn’t cherish or appreciate being a doctor.”
Are you interested in locum tenens? As a physician, the desire to help others is inherent. For Dr. Moore and others like him, that makes locum tenens an easy career choice. To learn more about how we're all serving up healthcare with heart we invite you to read this article published earlier. You can also search our jobs with the click of the button below. And don't forget to check back to read Part II of our adventures with Dr. Moore.
Saralynn White has been writing about doctors – and marketing physician recruiting and locum tenens staffing – since the mid 2000's. She loves working with physicians and enjoys the personal connections she makes as Interim's Director of Marketing.