Jason Junkins, MD, FACP received a bachelor of science in Biology from Jacksonville State University in 1991. He graduated from the University of Alabama School of Medicine in 1997, and completed his residency in Internal Medicine & Pediatrics at the University of South Alabama Medical Center in 2001.
A physician who believes in taking care of people from the inside out, Dr. Junkins is committed to creating an inviting atmosphere and a high-quality patient experience, staffed by a team of professionals with the same goal.
2:53– A little of my background
3:58–What is Southern Immediate Care
8:23– How do you try to live out your faith on a daily basis?
13:09– Take us back to the time when things were failing: What did you learn about yourself and what did you learn about God in that time?
15:25, 24:00– A word of encouragement
26:17– The 4:23 question
Ray: Hello, everyone. This is Ray Hilbert. I am your host here at Bottom Line Faith. And we would like to welcome you to our program today. And if you are a first-time listener, welcome. We are so glad you’ve joined us. You can check out many of our other interviews at our website, bottomlinefaith.org. And if you’re not currently a subscriber to the program, and you would like to do so, you can do that at the Google Play Store; you can do that at iTunes, Stitcher, and most the other platforms where you can subscribe for your favorite podcasts. If you are a Christ-follower and you’re looking for community with other followers of Christ who want to live out their faith in business and grow their companies and organizations on proven biblical principles and practices, we would like to ask you to check out our website, truthatwork.org. Truth At Work is the host ministry here at Bottom Line Faith, and we’d love to chat with you and possibly connect you with one of our dozens of roundtables in cities all across the country.
Listen, if you’re a long-time listener, welcome back. And if you’re a first-time listener, glad you could join us. This is the program where we have the opportunity; we travel across the country, we interview some of the most amazing thought leaders who are Christ-followers living out their faith in business and in the marketplace. And, and kind of the analogy we like to use here at Bottom Line Faith is this is where we’re going to lift the hood, and we’re going to tinker around like a mechanic would. But our engine that we’re tinkering around with is the engine of leadership of Christ-followers in the marketplace. We learn how they think, how they deal with their failure, how they live out their faith on a daily basis. And so I think you’re going to have a great time today. I am in beautiful, beautiful Birmingham, Alabama. We are so blessed and privileged to be down as I say, not only in the Bible Belt but in the polished buckle of the Bible Belt here in Alabama. And my guest today, my friend, and soon to be your friend, is Jason Junkins. Jason is the president of Southern Immediate Care. Jason, welcome to Bottom Line Faith.
Jason: Well, thank you for having me.
Ray: Well, you, you and I have had a chance over the years to speak on the phone. And this is the first time we’ve had a chance to sit down face to face, so I kind of feel like acquaintances or friendship being renewed or built here. Just take just a couple of moments here and give our audience a little bit of framework about your background. Where’d you grow up? A little bit about your home life growing up? When you came to Christ? Just give us a foundation, a little bit of who you are?
Jason: Okay. Sure will. I was raised here in Alabama was born in a small town up in northeast Alabama, about 5,000 people and went to Cherokee County High School. Have one sister and of course, two parents, and went to Jacksonville State University to do my undergraduate work. And then later on to UAB to medical school, and then University of South Alabama to do my residency, then moved back up to North Alabama to establish practice. I’ve been in practice there since 2001.
Ray: Okay, so we’re talking to a real live medical doctor folks, and this is what’s really fun. We’ve had attorneys, we’ve had CPAs, other professionals. And so we’re going to get a really unique perspective of a Christ-follower who is in the world of medical practice. And so why don’t you tell, tell us just a little bit about what is Southern Immediate Care?
Jason: Well, Southern Immediate Care is a private practice; we started the practice back in April of this year. It’s primarily urgent care, and then we also do some primary care as well. Originally, it was going to be exclusively urgent care, but after we opened up the practice, and we saw the patient demographic there, we realized there was a ton of unmet primary care needs. And so we had the space, we had the infrastructure, so we started doing primary care along with urgent care. So we’re open seven days a week, from 8 in the morning till 10 at night, and closed five days a year. So we’re just trying to provide access to those that don’t really have any other way to get medical care.
Ray: I’m really fascinated as I’ve watched, and I get a chance to travel around the country, we’re seeing more and more of these types of facilities, right? As opposed to necessarily relying on emergency rooms, and so on and so forth. What’s the underlying philosophy or idea behind the local immediate care centers? What niche is that really designed to fill?
Jason: Well, I believe the biggest thing that you’re seeing with these places springing up everywhere is it’s becoming, and as a medical professional, I don’t necessarily like it, but it’s the way it is, is becoming much more of a retail business. As the target population of patients that we serve, get into that medical decision-making age, what we’re seeing is these younger patients, it’s more now-access, now-delivery, there’s not much in the way of calling your doctor up anymore, and waiting a week to be seen and worked into the clinic and getting an appointment. People are busy; they have families to feed; they can’t miss work, and they have to be seen right then. And so it’s really become a very retail market. And so in order to meet the needs of patients desires, the urgent care has come forth, one of the largest, it may be the largest, but one of the largest privately owned urgent care companies is based here in Birmingham. And that’s one of the reasons they were originally established is to have sort of accessible primary care.
Ray: Well, it’s really interesting because, you know, as I’ve talked with other physicians and attorneys and dentists and so forth, very few of them have any, any sort of business training that’s offered, you know, as part of their medical school experience. And it sounds like maybe that was the case for you as well?
Jason: Yeah, we had none, none. I remember the first time I ever was handed a chart as a resident, where they said, well here, circle the code that you want us to bill for this. I don’t know what, so I just circled one. So, you know, you get, you got zero when I was going through. I think now, they’re actually starting to do a little bit of soft business training for medical students now, but it’s, it’s still essentially nothing, especially, especially in the medical world. Now, the billing is so complex that you really almost have to have a specialized degree in it almost.
Ray: And how about things like leadership training, people skills, management, did you receive any of that kind of training in your formal education process?
Jason: None. No, no formal training, the only real training you got with that is if you developed a mentorship relationship with one of your attending physicians or something, but even then, that was few and far between.
Ray: Kind of interesting, right? Because as we talk with folks about what sets one doctor apart from another, quite often it’s those people skills, it’s that quote-unquote bedside manner, and I guess you’re kind of left on your own as a budding physician, whether you got it or you don’t, huh?
Jason: Oh, yeah, you really do. You’re just sort of out there flapping in the breeze. And, and I think you see a lot of people going to work for other people now. A lot of physicians work as employees now, just because of that fact. They either they don’t have the know-how are they don’t have the desire to get to know how to do it. It’s just a lot easier to just go see patients.
Ray: You betcha. You betcha. Folks, we are speaking with Jason Junkins. He is the CEO and founder, President at Southern Immediate Care. We’re down in Birmingham, Alabama. Jason, let’s, let’s transition our conversation just for a moment here. Let’s talk about your Christian faith. Let’s talk about how do you try to live out your faith in a daily basis in running your company and interacting with your patients? What’s that look like?
Jason: Well, it should look better than it usually does. But, you know, we’re all human, but, you know, one thing I really learned is, is as, as I was going through medical school, and then as I got into business, when I first got out and got started practicing, you’re at that younger age where you’re building a lot, and you’re climbing the ladder, you know, and all those things. And personally, I don’t; although I was a Christian, I was not where I should have been. But I was focusing way too much on the outcome; I was focusing way too much on, you know, retirement, you know, putting away for retirement, building a house, building a family, doing all these things. Yet, God in His faithfulness, he took care of us, and we have always done well, even in the lean times. And so when I sold my business back in 2014, and that’s when you and I first met, is when I realized, it’s like, you’ve sort of reached the top of the ladder.
It’s sort of like the old saying goes. You reach the top of the ladder only to realize that you’re on the wrong ladder. And, and I realized that there was just so much more to it than just going to work every day, just seeing patients, just making money. And so what really happened to me in 2014 was a pivotal time in my life where my focus changed, and I had a no-compete period after I sold my business in 2014. And so it gave me some time to slow down and really re-evaluate where I was, and God just really showed me that our focus needs to be very simply love God, love other people. And then the question was, how do we do that? How does he want us to do that? And so God has given me the gift of being a doctor, and then me being able to run a business. So God has led us down this path to this new clinic, and so we’ve opened it, and our biggest goal and I say our, my wife’s a nurse practitioner, my best friend, soulmate, she’s right there with me in the thick and thin of everything. And, and if I ever come up missing, she’ll probably be the one they’d look for, some of my harebrained schemes. But our goal is to really invest ourselves in the lives of the people that we work with, and then as it goes out into our patients. And so each day we get up, and we want to say, how would God handle that? How would God have us handle that? And so whether it’s a death in the family of one of our employees, whether it’s a patient who just doesn’t have any money that day, you know, you can’t give everything away.
But where we can do something, we’ve tried to invest in the school systems there. Another, and actually the biggest thing where we are is because, in this practice, we had a much different payer mix of people. We have a much lower income patient population than we had with our other clinics. And I think God did that by design because nobody would have really chosen to put in urgent care, well we did. And when, as we did that, we found out that there’s these primary care needs that aren’t being met. And these patients come in with the stories saying, I can’t get into see my doctor, you know, their blood pressures out the roof. And so we’ve really found a mission, it’s almost like going to a third world country and seeing some of the things we see on a daily basis in an urban area in Alabama.
Ray: It sounds to me, feels to me, like you genuinely view this as your mission field, that God has uniquely called and equipped and qualified you for. Would that be true?
Jason: I believe that; I really do, I believe this is, this is where my mission is. I used to feel bad as, as a young Christian growing up. I never really felt a lot of desire to go to third world countries and everything, and I felt a lot of guilt for that for a long time. And I thought what is the matter with me? I must not be a Christian; I didn’t want to go serve in, you know, some desolate land. But then I realized that God doesn’t call all of us to do that. But in our little radius right here, we have our own third world countries everywhere we look, right here, they can use our help. And that’s what we really truly feel like God’s called us to do.
Ray: And that’s incredible. And so if you could take us back, you were talking about that time when, you know, things were failing, you had to get a second job to make ends meet, and so on and so forth. What did that season of your life teach you about yourself? What did you learn about yourself? And or what did you learn about the Lord during that season?
Jason: Well, I learned a lot about myself. And that’s that I didn’t like the person I became when I got under stress, but in God’s infinite wisdom, and God’s…
Ray: And what did that look like for you? You say under stress. How did you behave? How did you think? How did you interact with people? What was that like?
Jason: I generally I’m just a happy-go-lucky guy, you know, have a lot of fun, smile a lot. During those times, I felt, I felt like it’s very dark. I didn’t feel like I laughed, I cut up, I didn’t smile, I didn’t feel like a I would go the extra mile for people. You become somewhat withdrawn about yourself. And I didn’t like that. But the one thing I did learn is that during that time, honest to goodness, even as a physician in this country, there were days where I didn’t know if I was going to be able to pay the next bill, but God was very, very faithful every single time and he never missed one. And I’ll tell you this, too, and, and I know there’s a lot of different people have a lot of different ways of thinking about tithing and the financial management of money that God has given them to manage.
I was a terrible tither, you know, just, just, it was on the bottom line, and not the top line. And so one thing, and I’m not saying that God turned anything around because of this, but we had already gotten out of that bad situation, but it wasn’t far out of it. My wife and I made a decision. We said you know what? It doesn’t matter if we have to sell our house; whatever we’re gonna do. This is God’s money. We’re going to start today, tithing. And let me tell you what; God has never, ever, ever let us do without. So going back to what you asked, that is the biggest thing that I learned through all of this is that God’s faithfulness never ends, no matter what.
Ray: As we said earlier, one of the things we want to do in this program is encourage folks, you know, so there may be someone right now, who’s listening. And so what word of encouragement would you say to someone who just feels like they’ve got more month than money? And yet, maybe God’s touching their heart about trusting him in the financial side of things? What would you say to them?
Jason: I’d say just do it. Just jump off the cliff. I can promise you, and I don’t know who might be listening out here, but I can promise you that even though we as individuals don’t always live like God’s word is truth, it is true, and God will not let his, he will not let you go down. He will; he will be faithful to you. I don’t believe in a prosperity gospel where you give one, and you get ten back. I don’t believe in that at all. But I do not believe if you tithe with the sincerity of heart because you want to worship the Lord with your money, that he will let you do without. He will make, now he might not provide for your next Porsche, but he will, he will certainly meet all of our needs.
Ray: So was that scary that day you and your wife, you made that decision? Was that scary? Was it hard writing that first check, that next check? What was that like?
Jason: You know, it’s interesting. It’s like, wow, that’s a big check, but it was actually very liberating to finally do the right thing and to start, start being faithful in that area of our lives. And it was, I mean, yeah, I was a little nervous is like, Well, God, we’re gonna, we’re gonna trust you in this. And, but it was very liberating. And, and we’ve never looked back. And it’s been, it’s been one of the great, and so this all glory to God, and not to us. But, but once you get, it’s just like saving money, or whatever, once you get in a habit, it just becomes a worshipful thing. And then when you’re able to see the fruits of what that money does in your church or whatever organization you’re giving it to, you’re able to really appreciate how God uses that money for other things.
Ray: I was in another part of the country doing an interview a couple of days ago with the business owner, and he was telling the story very early on in his company that his major customer went bankrupt. And literally, and it was very early on when cash flow was already tight with a start-up, but it was $360,000. And he says, I remember coming home and walking into the kitchen and telling my wife that we may be losing everything. And this $360,000, we’re not going to get paid for this. I think the company may fold; we may lose our house; we have to do this, we may have to do that. And he said, my wife, she just had her back to me, and she’s washing dishes. And when I got done talking, he says, she turned around and looked at me, and she says, well, it wasn’t our money, to begin with.
Jason: That’s exactly right.
Ray: And he said that the word you used, liberating is what he said. He said, that was so liberating, he said, because God had already prepared my wife’s heart, already spoken to her. And he said I just needed to hear that. He said that has changed the way I do my business. It’s what he was saying. So when you understand it’s not yours, it’s God’s anyway, it’s really just kind of like giving them back a portion of what he’s lent us to use. Kind of that’s the perspective that I’m hearing here.
Jason: It really is. And, and, you know, we’re just like everybody else, you know, it ebbs and flows, and money’s tight, and there’s, there’s things we want to play with it with. But, but you know, God, God is always faithful.
Ray: You betcha. You betcha. So let’s talk a little bit about you know, where in the news, there’s a lot of discussion about the state of health care in our country; what’s going to happen, what’s not going to happen with Washington, DC and new laws, and this, that and the other. What do you see? How does this playing out in the lives of everyday people? How is this playing out in the lives of your fellow physicians and healthcare providers? What insights could you give us around that? I’m just curious on that.
Jason: Well, I think we’re in a big mess clearly. And, and I do believe that the politicians, in general, are not aware of all the different things that are going on at the individual level. We see people every day that can’t afford their deductibles. They have these really high deductibles just because they have to get that because in order to be able to afford the premiums. In a state like Alabama, where you’re dominated by one or two big companies, it’s, it can be a challenge on some, so I’m interested to see what they do. I’m not very encouraged that they’re gonna make a lasting change. The problem is, is because the way to fix it, there’s going to be a generation of people that are going to feel the pain and those people happen to vote. And so nobody is willing to take that step.
You know, it’s funny to me, and I get on my soapbox here, asking an insurance company to pay for a doctor’s office visit to me is like asking your homeowners insurance to pay for to get your grass cut. I think that, and I think most healthcare people would echo this, that insurances should be meant for catastrophic things, and people should pay for doctor’s visits and things like that with cash. If they did that, then I’d be able to get rid of about 75% of my infrastructure and cost. And then instead of a doctor’s visit costing $150, or whatever it is, it’d cost $50 or $30 or something like that, because your overhead would be so much lower. I don’t think it’s ever going to change anything, and then when you get into the whole Medicare thing, you can’t let that population of people do without, so I don’t know what the answers are. I don’t think that people are going to make a lasting change though. They’ll tweak it a little bit here and there.
Ray: Yeah, and are you seeing more individuals wanting to enter the practice of medicine or less? Or what do you see about future trends there?
Jason: You know, the trends, they’re still going up; applicant pools are going up every day. I mean, these guys are smart too. I wouldn’t stand a chance if I applied to medical school these days. These guys are sharp, but what you’re seeing as a result of a lot of this healthcare debacle that’s going on and a payment on the financial side of it is that nobody wants to do primary care, because that’s your lowest paying specialty. Everybody wants to be some type of specialist, and who can blame them? They make more money; they work less hours in general. Certainly, the pay they get is commensurate with the hours they work. If they work harder, they get paid more. Primary care currently, in its current state, you’re bludgeoned with paperwork that you don’t get reimbursed by the insurance companies for; it tends to be low pay and long hours, and so I do think you’re going to see a shortfall of primary care physicians as time progresses, we’re already seeing it and that’s where people like us come in and our volumes keep going up and up and up but not so much with urgent care patients as much as you know, I don’t have anybody to write my blood pressure medicine; I don’t have anybody to write my diabetes medicine.
Ray: And it will be interesting too, the role of technology in some of this. You know, I recently was interviewing a top-level executive at Google, and he was telling me about a contact lens that they’re developing, and they’re getting ready to get approval on this, that will be able to measure all insulin levels and so on and so forth, and regulate all of that through an app.
Jason: That is amazing.
Ray: I was blown away, right? So it’ll be interesting to just see how technology interplays with all this and the developments there, combined with just the economic side of all this. So I appreciate you just giving us a little bit insight, because one of the things, you know from time to time we get someone like yourself who’s in a very interesting niche and their career and in what God’s called them to do and they can bring a unique perspective and so I appreciate some insight there. Gosh, folks, we call this the fastest 30 minutes around, and we are nearing, believe it or not, close to the end of our time with Jason. And by the way, if you want to learn more about Jason and his company, Jason what’s the website where they can check you out?
Jason: It’s www.southernimmediatecare.com.
Ray: Southernimmediatecare.com is where you can learn more about Jason Junkins. He is the president of Southern Immediate Care in Alabama. And so Jason, just time for a couple more questions here. What advice would you have? What encouragement would you have for someone who’s listening to the program and they’re feeling like God’s calling them somehow, some way, shape, or form, that he would want to use them more in the marketplace, no matter what their career is. They could be a white-collar professional; they could be in blue-collar manufacturing. They could be a police officer, a business owner, what have you. But if they’re listening to the program, what words of encouragement would you have for them, in how they can serve the Lord every day at work?
Jason: Well, the, one of the biggest things I would say is, is that whoever is feeling led by the Lord to do something is be true to what God has called you to do regardless of the outside noise. One of the things I’ve seen through the years is there’s an awful lot of experts out there on your own personal life. And so if God has called you to a certain area, follow his voice, and whatever that is, he’ll make a way. I’ve seen some miraculous things in my limited time on this earth, and, and we know that God is at work, and he is still at work, and he’s never let up. And so I would just encourage somebody, just listen to that still, small voice and follow that, and, and God will make a way.
Ray: It’s obedience.
Jason: Obedience, exactly, yeah. Right.
Ray: And maybe following the prompting, and it doesn’t have to be some big thing. It could just be, you know, offering to pray with that co-worker, or, you know, just a smile, right?
Ray: Actually, sometimes I think we look for these big grandiose things, and that’s, that’s the only thing we look for God to use us in, but it is those, as you said, the still small voice just as much.
Jason: It is, it is, I tell our people at our office that it’s very simple. Medicine. So much of what people want out of medicine is as much emotional and psychological as it is physical. And I tell our people it’s very simple. You practice good medicine; you’re fast about it. But then most of all, you’re nice. As long as you’ve been nice to people, people, people want people to be nice to them. And so I think you’re exactly right. Just kindness goes so far.
Ray: That’s good. Great stuff. So if you’re a long-time listener here at Bottom Line Faith, you know that we have one question that we ask every guest and it’s at the end of every interview, and it’s what we like to call our 4:23 question. It’s based out of Proverbs chapter 4, verse 23, that these are the words of Solomon, though the Bible describes him as the wisest man who ever lived. And he says this; he says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for from it flows the wellspring of life.” So Jason, let’s kind of fast-forward the clock and let’s say that you’re near the end of this side of eternity for you, and you have a chance to gather your family, your friends, and your loved ones, and you’re going to have the opportunity to pass along your legacy advice. You’re one piece of advice. Above all else…
Ray: Have integrity; do the right thing. No matter who’s watching, no matter what you’re doing, no matter if it costs you money, no matter if it costs you time, no matter if it costs you heartache, do the right thing. And if you do the right thing, you will always win. And then lastly, be nice to people. And you just you can’t, you can’t, you can never finish a conversation while saying just be nice to people.
Ray: Just be nice. I love it. I love it. Tony Dungy says this. He says it is never the wrong time to do the right thing.
Jason: That’s exactly right.
Ray: And just as I’m listening to your counsel and advice there, that is what we’re talking about there. Just do the right thing.
Jason: Just do the right thing.
Ray: And be nice.
Jason: I think if more people did that, it’d just be a much, much more pleasant place to live.
Ray: For all of us. And maybe some of us wouldn’t mind seeing the doctor so often, either, right? Well, thank you, Jason, for being on the program.
Jason: Thank you. What an honor. I appreciate it.
Ray: It’s been fun. It’s been fun.
Jason: It has been.
Ray: And it’s been so nice to have a chance to sit down. We’ve been talking with Jason Junkins, the president of Southern Immediate Care. If you want to learn more about Jason and his company, you can check them out online at southernimmediatecare.com. Well, folks, this is Ray Hilbert. I am your host here at Bottom Line Faith. Check out all of our other interviews. We’ve interviewed some amazing Christ-following business leaders over the last several months. Check us out at bottomlinefaith.org. You can scroll down to the bottom of the page there, and you can subscribe to the podcast that comes out on a weekly basis. You can also follow us on our social, on Facebook and Twitter and all the social sites there. You can learn about all that at Bottom Line Faith.
Also, just want to remind you that the host ministry for Bottom Line Faith is Truth At Work. And if you’re interested, if you’re a Christ-following business owner like Jason, and you want to know what that means to live out your faith and build your company on biblical principles and practice, check it out. Learn about a roundtable program. There’s chapters and groups; hundreds and hundreds of businesses across the country are involved in a roundtable group. So check that out at truthatwork.org. Well, until next time, I am your host Ray Hilbert at Bottom Line Faith. Thanks for joining us. God bless and go serve God in the marketplace. We’ll see you soon.