Career Changes, Hurdles And A Few Life Lessons Along The Way
- Desmond Bell DPM CWS FACCWS
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Within the past 12 years or so, I have made a shift from a general podiatry practice to a specialized wound management and limb preservation practice, which has been marked by a series of highs and lows.
No doubt that if you have been in practice for any amount of time, you have experienced your own issues that have made you stronger, wiser and better at your craft.
In last month’s blog (see http://tinyurl.com/8lz6fgp ), I touched on the experience of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) examination of my practice under a focused pre-payment review for a little less than year and a half.
I will never forget receiving the first contact from CMS right before Thanksgiving in 2009. I had a flood of emotions, which not only ruined the holiday, but also created a cloud of uncertainty that tested my belief in my abilities. It made me question whether I had made the right decision to follow the career path.
In addition to the challenges of dealing with CMS, the past several years have also taken my professional and personal journey into the world of volunteerism. The Save A Leg, Save A Life (SALSAL) Foundation has grown from a local lunch-and-learn group into an organization of 60 chapters across the country. As miserable as the dealings with the CMS pre-payment review were, I can associate mostly positives with SALSAL.
I am not claiming that the transition from full-time practice to running a non-profit organization has been easy. It has been very consuming. Honestly, on paper, creating and growing the organization has been the most irrational thing I have ever done.
The time, energy and resources I have invested into SALSAL have revealed several commonalities similar to establishing a practice. This effort has lead to success, but much more work lays ahead before I can appreciate any real satisfaction.
I would like to share some thoughts that I have applied along the way. Hopefully, my journey is nowhere near the end. There is much yet to accomplish. However, this time of year should be one of reflection and thanks as well as a time to share our blessings with others.
Here are a few tips for success for my loyal blog readers and wound care providers, especially the younger practitioners and students. I share these with you in the hope that you will use your wealth of talents to better serve your patients, loved ones and yourself.
1. Failure is not an option. You will run into setbacks along the way. However, when setbacks occur, pick yourself up and keep moving forward. If you make a couple mistakes, forgive yourself. Do not dwell on what did not work. Analyze the problem and look to fix things. You must have a short memory on the days that don’t work out as planned. Use your experiences to guide your belief that the setback only makes you better and wiser.
2. Do not be afraid to go beyond a personal comfort level. There is a difference between risk and recklessness. Risk is taking action when you have done proper analysis and worked to push the odds in your favor. You cannot completely eliminate risk when stakes are higher but you can reduce risk with due diligence. The rewards of going beyond your comfort level may bring even greater rewards than you could have ever imagined.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. This is not a sign of weakness. It is actually a sign of strength. Who among us has all the answers? When you achieve success, you honor and share with those who helped convert your aspirations and goals into reality. When it comes to patient care, this is especially important as patients’ fate is in your hands. Knowing when to consult with others is critical to better outcomes. There is also the opportunity to learn and share with others.
4. Don’t worry so much about what others think and don’t waste time concerning yourself with what your colleagues are accomplishing. Life is hard enough. We are all blessed with certain talents. Discovering what we are good at is half the battle. When you apply those talents, you will open many doors. Be happy for the achievements of your colleagues. Don’t mistake activity for achievement as legendary basketball Coach John Wooden stated. He also stated: “Plan your work and work your plan.”
5. Time is love. When you share of your time, whether at work, with friends or at home, it is an expression of love. None of us is perfect and the older I get, the more I appreciate the people I have met along the way. My appreciation and affection looks beyond their imperfection and flaws.
Enjoy each day. Do not let the focus of achieving your goals blind you. Enjoy the journey and the people you meet along the way. In the words of Winston Churchill, “We make a living by what we get but make a life by what we give.”
I am sure you have many patients who would express their thanks to you if they could. For every one who has said “thank you,” certainly there are many others who were unable to for any number of reasons. Therefore, by proxy and on their behalf, I thank you for all you do.
Enjoy the ride. Include your family and friends. Share, love and give thanks.