When was the last time you were at an amazing healthcare institution that just left you in awe? It’s probably not a question you ask yourself very often. In fact, you naturally hope to avoid a visit to the hospital but I had the pleasure of being at Cleveland Clinic this weekend for good reasons.
While Cleveland may get a bad rap, any city that can create an institution like Cleveland Clinic deserves our collective respect. Additionally, Cleveland has made great strides over the last several decades and seems to have rebounded from the Great Recession of 2008 with unmistakeable success. The city, including the downtown area and the Health-Tech Corridor, are a light unto other Midwest cities that are weathering the economic downturn.
Why did I find myself in Cleveland at Cleveland Clinic in the middle of June? I was flattered and excited to return to my plastic surgery fellowship alma mater as the invited honored alumnus for the Department of Plastic Surgery’s 2015 graduation and alumni weekend.
But first, a little more about the Clinic as a whole. This amazing hospital complex includes building after building of research facilities, clinics and hospitals dedicated to heart and vascular care, transplantation, gastrointestinal disease, urology and of course, the Institute for Dermatology and Plastic Surgery.
While I was training from 2005 to 2007, I could tell in the moment, not through nostalgic hindsight, that I was part of something bigger than myself. I was excited to be part of a legacy that would live on for many years to come. Apparently I wasn’t the only one to feel this way. It was clear while attending the graduation reception on Saturday night that many nurses that worked in the Department’s in-office surgery center while I was training are still there…and have been there for up to 40 years!
You can’t manufacture dedication and a sense of purpose like this artificially. It’s a culture and a commitment that is steeped in tradition going back to the 1920’s. I wish I knew the secret formula for achieving an experience like this in my own practice in San Francisco. While I may never know the ingredients necessary, hopefully two years of being in that aura of Cleveland Clinic will have a lasting effect on me.
If I can claim any lasting effect since leaving 8 years ago, it’s the impression their in-office operating room left on me. The Department of Plastic Surgery and it’s associated operating room is affectionately referred to as A60 (it’s on the 6th floor of the A building). These four operating rooms are the busiest OR’s I’ve ever been in. Aside from the convenience an in-office operating room confers on the surgeons who are always just down the hall from their surgical patients, it also leads to better outcomes for patients as I’ve discussed previously in this blog post.
Due to the efficiency demonstrated in the operating rooms of A60, I made a commitment to myself that when I left in 2007, I wanted to recreate that same experience in my future practice. While it took a few years, I finally have an in-office operating room with wonderful staff and happy patients.
I owe my career to the Department of Plastic Surgery at Cleveland Clinic and can’t thank Dr. Zins, our chairman, enough, along with so many other staff that contributed to my success.
One bit of advice to the graduating fellows and residents: wear your Cleveland Clinic “badge” loud and proud on your website and resume. Consumers the world over recognize the Cleveland Clinic name. Be sure your front office staff mention your Clinic credentials when answering the phone in your new office. Milk that noteworthy credential like a dairy cow!
Long live A60!