I will never forget how emotional I was after making the decision to accept the job offer to become the Division Chief of Pediatric Otolaryngology and Audiology at a new free-standing children's hospital in Orlando back in February 2013. Making a change from everything I was used to—my busy practices in Kansas City, our social network, my professional network, and our entire life as a family—was beyond daunting. Change is extremely difficult at first, but if we remember why we chose change, our vision, goals, and commitment to the new outcome, then each day and every step becomes tolerable no matter how hard. Then one day, we look back and may even feel grateful we did the “hard” thing by embracing change and taking risks.
At least three steps are necessary to make a change. First, one must become aware and decide that change is necessary, and possible, for whatever reason(s).
Second, one must have a clear vision for the desired outcomes or goals as a result of the change.
Third, a strategy should be developed for how to implement the change(s), including how to handle setbacks.
This is the second professional move for me. We were blessed to have the movers pack all of our belongings, move us, and unpack our belongings. Our relocation specialist took care of coordinating everything and had spoiled me with many personal phone calls to make sure things were going well.
I spent the first several weeks after announcing my decision to leave Kansas City in agony, mostly from having to tell my patients and their families about my move, as well as recognize the mourning that I experienced as a result of leaving an amazing and blessed practice I had enjoyed here the Kansas City area and the many colleagues I will miss. Taking care of children is a “team” sport.
Then there was the sadness as I embraced that leaving meant I must leave the so many talented, committed, and passionate people I knew and worked with at both the University of Kansas Medical Center as well as the Children’s Mercy Hospital. Everyone worked to make sure we took care of our patients first.
My three steps. When opportunities for a job change came up, I had to first accept my own desire to even consider change and work in a new environment. I believed that this was the right decision and that I could make an even greater difference in improving children’s health.
Second, I had to develop a vision. Except it’s not what you may think. Despite the exercise of having multiple pages of what I think an excellent Division Chief of Pediatric ENT and Audiology should look like, or will look like with me as their leader, in my heart, I knew that the most important part of my vision involves the people that I will work with. I have learned through the privilege of seeing and caring for thousands of children and their families that the most important part of my practice is my relationship with them. This includes creating a safe and non-judgmental environment during our limited appointment time where they can tell me what’s wrong, and get a thorough exam, and a detailed, appropriate, and honest discussion about my assessment of the situation and the why behind my recommendations.
A successful outcome in medicine is no different than in any other setting, and depends on people, not just scientific facts, fancy technology, more new drugs, or fancy surgical equipment. While all those things are important to help health care providers deliver high quality care, I believe high quality is measured by the human interactions, and ability to inspire and motivate change.
Finally, my strategy. Well, since I became the new doc in town, and anonymous, my goals were to first let people know who I am and what my philosophy is about when it comes to issues related to children’s health. My strategy included the basics of course: hard work every day, listening to those all around me and building relationships with a new team and teams of professionals with the common goal to serve our patients. My new employer has the motto, “Your Child. Our Promise.” I am clear with myself that whatever my strategy is, it must reflect my promise to my patients and their families.
What’s my promise? My promise to you is that I will be a mother first and surgeon second, and only make recommendations as if your child was my own. I promise to only consider medication and surgery if there are no other alternatives, and that I will share as much knowledge as I have to offer relevant to your child’s issues when you come see me. My promise to my new team(s) is that I will always be open to feedback, be honest, and be transparent. I will value everyone around me because I believe we all have something to offer.
Why am I blogging about this? I realized that when I counsel parents about potential positive changes that can and should be made to improve their children’s diet and dietary habits, we also follow three steps.
First, the caretakers have to be open to my suggestions and believe that change is necessary. Most families I meet are open to our discussion about children’s diet and dietary habits since no one seems to be eager to get more prescriptions filled or sign up for surgery.
Second, we discuss our vision—usually decreasing a child’s habit of nighttime snacks, excessive dairy and sugar intake, and developing the habit of eating more fresh foods, including fruits and vegetables and decreasing processed foods and/or junk food.
Finally, the strategy. This part takes creativity and I need the families to help come up with changes that are realistic for their families and schedules. What works for one family may not work for another, and what works for one child may not work for his/her sibling!
The Healthy Kids Movement and curing the "Milk and Cookie Disease" are not about a list of perfect foods, but about my career, personal epiphany, and core commitment to create a paradigm shift in how we care for children in this nation and the world, and reclaiming health for as many kids as possible, without medications and surgeries. The importance of diet and dietary habits in developing and ensuring lifelong health is the foundation and basis for health and freedom from illness.
Empower yourself and your child today to make better choices about what and how they eat. Decide to make a change, see the vision of a healthier you and your family, and come up with the strategies that will help you get there.
Orlando and central Florida, I hope I have made an impact on countless lives since arriving in June of 2013! As my team grew and our division served over 26,000 patients in 2018, I am proud that we will continue to embrace children and their families.
Revised from 3 Steps to a Healthier Child.