Turning a Vision into Reality (thanks Dad)

A couple of moths ago I launched my new medical practice. The vision for the practice has been developing within me for many years, though I finally got up the nerve to make it happen after my dad passed away this July. Dad and I had many discussions about this practice and he was a huge supporter, though he also helped me evaluate things more critically and realistically. I’m the visionary and he was the practical one. After he died, I felt a strong impulse to move forward with the plan, inspired to not only do it, but to do it incredibly well, to honor my father and show him that his faith in me was well placed. My father is with me every step of the way as I walk this new path.

My vision is fairly straightforward. I want to support, guide and honor people who are challenged by the complexities of illnesses and aging, and those who are nearing the end of their lives. I want to use my skills as a physician and my compassion as a human being to serve people. I don’t want to be limited as to when and how I take care of people by the policies of insurance companies and government agencies. And I want to bring together and lead a team of awesome, holistic health practitioners who can add immense value to the lives of my patients. Seems reasonable, right? I thought so.

While considering the risks and benefits of starting this new practice, I searched extensively for a similar model that already existed. I wanted to learn what I could from those who had come before me, and also know if there was any competition. What I found is that the model of care I was preparing to launch did not exist. At least not that I could find through my hours of research on the internet.

This caused me to wonder. Why doesn’t this model exist? Why hasn’t it been done before? Is it because it won’t work? Has it been tried, and failed? Was I delusional to think that I could bring this new concept into the world and make it work when no one else had? Did everyone else know something I didn’t?

These thoughts that kept running through my mind. They created some real doubt.

But I was inspired. I had a vision that wouldn’t go away. I knew there was an overwhelming need, and huge gaps that needed to be filled. I was convinced that I was uniquely qualified, and clearly willing, to try to fill those gaps and meet those needs. I was convinced it would work.

So I talked to people. I talked to patients. I talked to family members. I talked to doctors and nurses and social workers and others whose business is taking care of those who are sick, or old, or dying.

It became clear to me that the reason no one else has done it was not that it wasn’t a good idea, or wouldn’t work. It was merely that no one else had been willing to go out on a limb to make it happen. Other physicians have seen the need and possibly even considered the opportunity. Other people had the resources and might have been willing to take risk. But there hadn’t been a physician with the combination of skills, passions, inspiration, and comfort level with taking risks, who had been willing to commit to making it happen.

So I moved forward. I found nurses and holistic health practitioners who are passionate about what they do and excited about working in this collaborative model. I found a small office. I hired a practice director. I had business cards made. I got malpractice insurance. I started making phone calls and setting up meetings with people. I waited.

Pretty soon I started getting some inquiries, and then patients started joining the practice. We were off and running.

My team has been working their magic and transforming lives. The value of our unique brand of care and support is becoming very clear—to the patients, their families, to the various supporters in their lives, to my team members, and to me. The vision has become reality.

There’s no way to adequately describe how gratifying it is to see this unfolding. I knew in my heart it was the right thing to do—it was the next necessary step in allowing my life purpose to unfold. But in my mind, there remained some fear.

Based on the experiences we’re having with our patients, and the speed at which the model is being adopted, I feel certain that the timing was right, the universe has been lining up just the right people, and my vision for a practice with even greater impact, here in San Diego and beyond, will continue to unfold.

Each time I meet with someone and describe the new practice model, I watch the same process unfold. Initially, there is confusion about what we do and the value we provide. As they ask more questions, the benefits of the model become clearer, and their response is almost always a version of, “what a great idea! This is so needed. I’m amazed it hasn’t been done before?” I’m always encouraged and inspired by these comments.

So just to make sure you know what I’m talking about, here is a brief synopsis of our current practice model:

My team and I take care of people who are dealing with the challenges of aging, who are facing complex health conditions or are nearing the end of their lives (sometimes all three of these.) We provide an extremely high level of customized, intimate medical care, advocacy and navigation, in their home or wherever they live. I oversee and coordinate a team of expert health practitioners and healers, including massage therapists, physical therapists, music therapists, nutrition experts, a gourmet chef, and more, who bring unparalleled joy, comfort and peace-of-mind to our patients and their families. We show them love, compassion, and we help them connect with a part of themselves they may have been disconnected from for too long.

We only care for a small number of patients at any time, and we compassionately guide them, and their families, along the journey, until they take their last breath. It is truly an honor and privilege to be in this position and walk this sacred path with people.

Before he died, my father gave me an incredible gift. He allowed me to create an end-of-life experience for him that would serve as a model for those I would care for in the future. He was a proud and independent man, yet in his final days he was gentle and he graciously received the love and support his family provided. He died peacefully, surrounded by his children and grandchildren. He had already shown me the gold standard for how to live a good life. At the end, he showed me the gold standard for how to have a good death. I am forever grateful for this, and will do my best to ensure that others will benefit from the example he set. In life, and in death.

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