Tuesday, March 10, 2015

5 Thoughts, 5 Years Later

I've been meaning to write a post as a five year reflection to my graduating with a DPT, practicing in every healthcare setting (from acute hospitals to rural home health), and my transition to the business side of life. It's been a very interesting journey. I look back and I realized some of the most enlightening situations came at the hands of being mentored or mentoring others. As such, I wanted to impart a few thoughts now that I've been in the industry for a little while, in a very much delayed post of chronology.....

5 Thoughts, 5 Years Later

1. I was always ready.
What I felt was (and perhaps is still) a certain stance of "conventional" wisdom was this: school only prepared the new graduate just enough so they didn't end up hurting anyone. They knew enough that they could get by with thorough mentorship because experience was the only legitimate teacher of competency.

To that I say: Phooey!

The fact was that I was most definitely ready. I came out of school ready to rock and roll with short exposure to any given work environment. I didn't need sharpening or tinkering out of the box, I was good to go! In fact, I felt like comparatively, I was advanced in many ways - much like new cars to old models. And, shouldn't that be the case? Shouldn't education IMPROVE over time? Certainly there were odd cases that required experience to truly absorb the clinical presence of what was wrong. But, I felt that wasn't a measure of readiness. That was simply an experience of fortune; a clinician that was in the field was at the right time in the right place to observe and experience a rare diagnosis. That didn't mean they were any more competent or ready than I was, it was simply they saw it one more time in life than I ever did. Yet, for all that, there were so very many diagnoses that "senior" clinicians missed that I caught. Why? Because of my education. For what my experience lacked, my training sufficed. Different generations of clinicians receive different generational thoughts and foci in their didactic and clinical experience prior to joining the industry at large. For those reasons, it may be perhaps that the senior clinicians had a wider breadth of treatment options than I did, however, I had a far better grasps of differential diagnosis than they did.

Does that mean I was better or worse? That they were better or worse? NO! It meant that I was ready. I was more prepared and trained for diagnosis and they were more prepared and trained for treatment. Did that relate to superior outcomes one way or the other? Nope. Actually, if anything, it was the work ethic that changed things when it came to the available data we had. I was more productive. Maybe I was younger. Maybe I was hungrier. Maybe I just wanted it more. Or maybe, I was just ready to go -- out of the box, just as any top-shelf capital should be. After all, after nearly a decade of education and training, you would HOPE someone would come out of the box ready to shoot. This leads to realization #2....

2. Time isn't the X-Factor, performance is the X-Factor.
I found that not only was I ready, I was out performing certain compadres both in clinical productivity as well as outcomes and patient satisfaction. Now, not that all my seniors were being out performed by me. Far from it. Actually, one of my favorite clinicians had been in the field 30+ years and her level of spunk, energy, zeal, passion, and ability was like Yoda. It was like she could see what was to happen before things happened and her patients couldn't have been happier. Ultimately, we bonded over tackling the "trouble" patients that our colleagues didn't really want to see. Magically, they always did better when we saw them. They weren't any trouble at all. They weren't rude, inappropriate, or difficult. They were actually quite great!

See... time isn't the x-factor. It's not the number of years of experience or the loyalty to the company or seniority. It's plain performance. Better clinicians are better because they bring better results. The same goes for employees, managers, team members, etc. It spoke to me a lot when I actually had a complaint filed against for being TOO productive!

It was incredulous! How could anyone complain about a colleague picking up the slack? I talked it out with management who was actually really receptive once we dug into the heart of the issue.


Well guess what?! Too bad. Your time is trumped by my performance. 

3. Politics was problematic. I wasn't prepared.
I think what I was NOT prepared for "out of the box" was the political battlefield. The DPT educational experience didn't teach me several things, one of which was how to navigate the heavily striated battlefield that is healthcare and healthcare administration.

I was too gung-ho in my earliest years. For that, I was beat up, bullied, and told to calm down. It sucked. Not only that, but I found that it was strange that it was my PT colleagues at large (both within and outside of my immediate business unit) that were harshest to me, telling me to cool my DPT jets. Funny enough, nurses loved me. The nursing staff, administration, physicians, and especially marketing & PR adored my energy, my level of contribution, and my can-do attitude in the face of any situation. I loved that level of support. Unfortunately, I didn't understand how to garner the same positivity from my own professional colleagues.

It took several years for me to navigate that path. It was hard. I felt ostracized by my own kind, at it were. Sadly, this isn't a unique story. I know of MANY new graduates (my time, the time before, and now) who experienced this problem. They are dumped into a political landmine, not being told so... and wished a back-handed, "Good luck." This needs to change.

4. Social media = Super charger.
I want to say I joined up for social media visibility around Summer of 2011? Something like that.

It changed my life.

Social media has provided me with more opportunity, more leverage, a larger platform, and a far greater level of connectivity than anything I was attempting in my networking efforts prior. Social media is an equalizer. People who spam, are called out. People who give, are appreciated. It's basically that simple. I was and remain all about giving back and paying it forward. I feel there is more to life than selfishness (not that people shouldn't be making strategic profits because of wise choices). As such, I can't speak enough about the importance of social media. For me, Twitter was the best platform. I made it work for me. I know Facebook has the largest usage, but, I feel the authenticity and convertibility on the FB isn't as good as in Twitter or other outlets (for now).

In any case, social media changed my professional and personal life. To that, I credit my wife. It was her idea and a truly wise one at that.

5. I was begging for business solutions.
The other area that I felt my DPT education failed me was in business. While it can be argued political savvy is part of a strong business education, I'm actually referring to the operational, marketing, and strategic aspects of healthcare as a business and social construct. Coming out of school, I barely had any understanding of how or why I billed for services the way I did, what units would translate to, what CPT codes would work and which ones wouldn't, and the fee schedule and reimbursement patterns available to the PT profession.

What was worse was I saw ALL sorts of problems needing to be solved. I wanted to solve them and I had great ideas of how to push them through. Some ideas were widely accepted, especially if management backed them up. Other times, they would be left to fizz out, a truly frustrating tactic managers use when they don't want to "yes" because it wasn't their idea. Don't worry, they'll bring it up and credit themselves in the next year or two... just you watch.

As such, when I sought mentorship for advice in this channel, I was told that there is no better venue for me to find answers than getting an MBA. Yup, that's right. Back to school for a Masters in Business Administration. That's how I ended up here!

I think much is to be gained if DPT programs network with business savvy leaders (not just PTs) out there, if anything, just to have two or three Google Hangout or Skype conversations (if not in person) with their 1st year students. Orient these doctoral candidates to the industry environment and strategic positioning they will be subject to upon graduation and licensure; it would accelerate a culture of professional advocacy both internally and externally. Most importantly, I think this would bring value across our supply chain and most definitely to our industry stakeholders.

Well! That's it for now. I just thought to catch up on this post since I planned on doing it quite some time ago. As always, I'm just a tweet or email away!

Until next time,

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