The PRMS Blog

The Life of PRMS: Jackie Palumbo, Executive Vice President, Chief Underwriting Officer


The insurance industry was the farthest thing from my mind when in 1976 I put my pursuit of becoming a teacher on hold and joined the workforce. I signed up with a temporary staffing service that placed me in a short-term clerical position with ISMIE, a newly created physician-owned medical malpractice company in Chicago. This temporary position shortly became a permanent underwriting position and 11 years later I was ready to spread my wings further and moved to Los Angeles where I joined The Doctors Company (TDC) as an underwriting manager. Next, my career path took me back to the Midwest where I became  Director of Underwriting at PIC-Wisconsin (now ProAssurance). A few years later, I was on the road again working with HealthCare Underwriters (now MLMIC), in upstate New York as their Director of Underwriting and Education.

Finally, I landed in Arlington, Virginia in 1996 joining the incredible team at Professional Risk Management Services, Inc. (PRMS) specializing in the management of a national program for psychiatrists and behavioral healthcare practices. I have learned from some of the best leaders in the medical professional insurance industry and worked with talented risk managers, claim adjusters, agents, brokers, actuaries, marketing and legal experts.  At PRMS, I have also had the opportunity to mentor and develop new underwriting talent through the years. It is a pleasure watching these underwriters develop skills and expertise,  become successful managers, serve as experts on industry panels, and participate in underwriting association leadership roles. Some might say my original dream to become a teacher has come true!

And most of all, I am grateful for the opportunity to be of service to psychiatrists including developing products that best serve their needs.

 

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The Life of PRMS: David Cash, Assistant Vice President, Risk Management


I started my legal career as an Assistant Public Defender in the Mental Health Division of Maryland’s Office of the Public Defender. Through my work and in my personal life, I had become friends with plenty of psychiatrists and, when I saw the job advertisement for a Risk Manager position with PRMS, I sought their feedback. It was all positive. “They’re a great company,” and “they put on really good seminars” was what I was universally told. I pushed aside my uncertainty about entering the corporate workforce and joined PRMS. That was almost 17 years ago, and it has turned out to be an awesome gig.

My absolute favorite part of working at PRMS is that I get to interact with psychiatrists. Our clients are an intelligent, insightful, and compassionate group. Whether I am assisting a client on the Risk Management Consultation Service, chatting at a reception, or fielding questions at one of our seminars, those qualities always come through. While I relish my role as a physician educator, I usually feel like I benefit more from our interactions than the clients that I speak with.

PRMS’ workplace diversity is a great strength. Staff at PRMS have hailed from almost every state in the nation from Alaska to Florida to California to New Hampshire – plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Additionally, we have been enriched by members of our team who have come from international backgrounds such as Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, France, India, Montenegro, Vietnam, Lebanon, Hungary, Trinidad, Taiwan, China, Philippines, Ukraine, Great Britain, South Africa and Jamaica. We learn from each other and we grow from shared and new experiences.

I especially appreciate the guidance and support – and significant freedom in doing my work – that Donna Vanderpool and Jackie Melonas, before her, have given me. They both are great colleagues. They even tolerated my “ponytail phase” with patience and grace.

Many years ago, I spoke at an event. Colleagues from Underwriting and Marketing were staffing a booth at the event and I visited the booth before my presentation. As we were all chatting, an exhibitor from a neighboring booth leaned over and said, “I want to work for your company. It seems like you guys have fun – like you really like each other.” We do.

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The Life of PRMS: Kathi Heagerty, Litigation Specialist


Imagine having a job you love, colleagues and clients that you enjoy working with, and a company that you are proud to work for…that is how I feel about my job at PRMS.  I joined PRMS in 2010 as a Risk Manager which allowed me to help our clients manage their professional liability risks and provided me with a solid background on the varied and numerous situations they face.  As a Litigation Specialist, I employ my nursing and legal skills to manage claims in 11 states.  I am constantly challenged in my work which I enjoy.  I value the relationships I’ve established with the clients I work with and have so much respect for the difficult work that they do in caring for the mentally ill.  I consider myself very fortunate to work with colleagues across all departments who are kind, smart, caring, and fun.  Does this all sound too good to be true?  Well, it’s not.  I admit that I am lucky to work for a company that values its employees and always goes the extra mile for its clients…it doesn’t get much better than this!

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The Life of PRMS: Victoria Johnson, Senior Agency Accountant, Finance


Twenty-two years ago, I was ready for a career change.  In order for that career change to take place, I decided to try my luck and go to a temporary placement agency.  Who would have guessed that this would have been one of the best career decisions that I could have made at that time?

The agency placed me with an assignment at PRMS to be the front desk receptionist.  The assignment was supposed to be for one day only.  The one-day assignment turned into a week and then a month.  After the first month, I was asked if I could stay on indefinitely – little did I know that PRMS meant that to heart! 

At PRMS, the path is always open for growth.  A year later, I was promoted from a receptionist position to that of Accounts Payable Clerk and as I learned new responsibilities successfully, I was promoted to Accountant I, II and then III!  Today I am the Senior Agency Accountant in the Finance Department.

With the encouragement of PRMS, during my tenure here I have obtained an accounting degree and have had the opportunity to work side-by-side with many experienced accountants and insurance professionals learning about both finance and insurance at every step of the way.

Now, 22 years later, I can honestly say that I am still overjoyed to be part of the PRMS team!

 

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Now Is the Perfect Time to Join Senior Psychiatrists


If you are a senior psychiatrist and lifetime member of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) looking to mentor younger psychiatrists or to just stay involved with the field and colleagues, now’s the perfect time to join Senior Psychiatrists, Inc. In a move designed to help grow its membership and raise its visibility, the group recently eliminated its annual membership fee. The change was made possible because of sponsorship by Professional Risk Management Services, Inc. (PRMS).

“Our mission is to represent the 9,000 senior members of APA who are Life Members, Life Fellows, and Distinguished Life Fellows,” says Senior Psychiatrists President Jack W. Bonner, MD, a retired psychiatrist from Greenville, SC. “We are fortunate that PRMS has partnered with us in the past and has now chosen to fund us in a way that allows us to hopefully increase our membership.”

Senior Psychiatrists, founded in 2012, is an outgrowth of the APA “Lifers,” a group previously managed by the APA Foundation. It is now an allied organization to the APA and has representation in the APA Assembly. The group mentors early career psychiatrists and residents, publishes an e-magazine and provides talks and webinars to help psychiatrists in the later stages of their careers navigate challenges as they and their practices age. The group has about 300 members.

“We hope to represent a larger group of psychiatrists and to have more influence and be able to do more,” said Pat Troy, Executive Director. “Many of these doctors are past leaders in the APA and enjoy being engaged and helping each other through the various transitions. They recognize that there is some obligation to take care of those within the profession at all stages.”

In the past, Senior Psychiatrists has presented talks covering issues such as how long a psychiatrist should keep practicing and what other occupations they might enjoy if they worked fewer hours. In July, the group presented a webinar featuring Ann McNary, JD, Senior Risk Manager at PRMS, on how to properly close a practice – both upon retirement and in the event of an emergency – while minimizing stress on the psychiatrist, family, staff and patients.

In May, about 70 Senior Psychiatrists members gathered at the APA Annual Meeting in San Diego. There, the 2017 Harold E. Berson, MD Award was presented to Steven S. Sharfstein, MD, MPA. This award is presented to an APA member or fellow who has made major contributions to American psychiatry. Sharfstein recently retired as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Sheppard Pratt Health System and has served the APA in many capacities; including as medical director from 1983 to 1986, chair of the Committee on Managed Care from 1990 to 1993, and as president from 2005 to 2006.

Another high point in San Diego was the screening of an inspiring feature-length documentary titled “Art of Storytelling: The Human Experience of Being a Psychiatrist,” as told by three generations of psychiatrists in Southern California. The project was conceived by the Art of Psychiatric Medicine Committee – a committee of the Southern California Psychiatric Society. The film highlights the lives and work of 12 Los Angeles-area psychiatrists, and features interviews with these psychiatrists including Senior Psychiatrists Secretary Maria T. Lymberis, MD, a clinical and forensic psychiatrist who is an honorary clinical professor of psychiatry at the Geffen UCLA School of Medicine.

In the film, Lymberis reflects on being a psychiatrist: “It isn’t just what you have suffered or what you are now suffering. But it is what strengths do you have. That makes a difference.” The film’s director, members of the Committee and representatives from the Southern California Psychiatric Society and PRMS joined the Senior Psychiatrists for the screening. Watch the film trailer here.

Senior Psychiatrists recently worked with PRMS to launch a program to mentor medical students from the American Medical Student Association, many of whom have not yet chosen their field of study. Melanie Smith, Senior Vice President of Client Relations for PRMS, noted that PRMS insures many practitioners who either are current members of Senior Psychiatrists or would benefit by joining the ranks.

“Senior Psychiatrists is a valuable organization that’s poised for growth,” Smith said. “We hope this new membership model will help even more physicians stay connected in ways that will help them in their careers and beyond.” Smith added that anyone considering practicing 20 hours per week or less can get up to 60% off malpractice insurance premiums with PRMS. And if a doctor refers a fellow psychiatrist or group practice to PRMS at PsychProgram.com/Refer, PRMS will make a donation to the psychiatric organization of their choice, such as Senior Psychiatrists.

To maintain its dues-free status, the group also hopes to get contributions from members and to encourage continued corporate sponsorship. This fall, Senior Psychiatrists will launch an annual giving campaign. But you don’t have to wait. For more information about making a tax-deductible donation or joining Senior Psychiatrists, email admin@seniorpsych.org, call (443) 597-0066 or visit www.seniorpsych.org.

 

 

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