I fell in love with aviation at around the age of 10. From that point forward, I became very focused on my goal to develop that passion into a career as a United States Air Force pilot. In doing so, I joined Civil Air Patrol (US Air Force Auxiliary), started flying planes at the age of 12, and taking lessons by age 14. As a cadet in the Civil Air Patrol, I rose through the ranks, achieving Cadet Lieutenant Colonel, of which could only be achieved by attending Cadet Officer School, located at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama. It was also during these years that I learned to network. I had developed a friendship with a retired Air Force Major General, who had flown SR-71’s and U-2 spy planes during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Literally, all the stars were aligning for me to achieve the goal of attending the US Air Force Academy and becoming an Air Force pilot. That is, until a basketball injury resulting in two knee surgeries and two years of rehabilitation that changed everything.
Have you ever heard the saying, “I made plans and then God laughed”? That saying was very appropriate for my circumstances. I had been planning on becoming an Air Force pilot from the age of 10, until the age of 17, when I realized that would no longer be possible. What seemed devastating, actually opened the door for where God intended me to be. Through my years of surgery and rehabilitation, including losing the years of high school athletics I had also strived so much for, I discovered a passion for medicine. I had always had an interest in wellness and biology. Realizing I could sincerely empathize with patients coupled with my sincere interest for medicine, I decided to apply that same drive I once used in becoming a pilot and redirect that energy toward a career in healthcare.
Initially, I wanted to enter healthcare on the clinical side, either in orthopedics or emergency medicine. To prepare for this new change in direction, I volunteered at a local ambulance base, and requested to shadow as many physicians, including in surgery as possible. During that time, I observed multiple joint replacement surgeries, ACL repairs, shoulder repair, and even a lower back surgery. But, halfway through my undergraduate degree, my plans were forced to change again. As much as I enjoyed the clinical opportunities I was given, they also made me realize I did not have the stomach for the clinical side of medicine. However, I realized I really loved medicine, and considered ways to stay in the industry, realizing there needs to be someone to runs these facilities. Therefore, I switched my degree to Healthcare Administration.
Once again, I used that strong passion to redirect my energy for the new path I was on. I volunteered at a local Children’s Hospital, identifying it as a great way to understand patients, developing a better sense of empathy as well as insight for how I could help them when I graduated from college. Additionally, I contacted a local hospital, asking if I could interview their CEO, interested to understand his journey to the top, and how I could learn from him. The hospital not only agreed to schedule me time with the CEO, but they allowed me to have time with each member of their Executive Leadership team that day. I was convinced I was going to be the CEO of one of the local large health systems. In the quest for that aspiring role, a good friend of mine, who was a Nurse, was kind enough to be candid with me, saying hospital leadership was not where I was supposed to be. Although I couldn’t see it at the time, she was right. I am not built to operate within the confinements of bureaucracy and staying in the lines. Rather, I live outside the box, identifying problems and even more importantly, identifying solutions. My friend was right. I never took a position with a hospital. Instead, I forged my own path as a healthcare entrepreneur. My journey professionally is often taking all kinds of twists and turns, always looking for ways to improve the healthcare industry. My journey personally has brought me back to orthopedics, once again, as a patient. About 6 1/2 years ago, I injured my hip, resulting in surgery. In 2020, I was committed to not putting on the quarantine pounds and started an aggressive new workout series. As a result, I re-injured my hip, resulting in a second surgery. I have behaved since that surgery, but it needs some additional repair. Over the next six weeks, I am going to take you on a journey with me as a healthcare consultant who has become the patient. In this journey, I will blog my experiences throughout all my pre-op appointments, through to surgery and post-operatively. This will allow me to bring a perspective of what it’s like to be a patient though the lens of someone who is in healthcare, and how I can use that perspective to further my quest to create changes in the industry that help both patients and physicians.