Dr. Randy Cook hosts the Rx for Success Podcast, where physician leaders reflect on their current work and the key elements that helped them along their professional journey to a successful career. In this podcast, Dr. Cook shares his own story and gives you his own “Prescription for Success.”
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With more than four decades of bedside practice as a general and vascular surgeon, he is a well-respected clinician, educator, and organizational leader. He holds certifications from the American Board of Surgery and the American Board of Preventive Medicine in the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine subspecialty, as well as certifications from the American Professional Wound Care Association and the American Board of Wound Management. He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and the Southeastern Surgical Congress, and formerly served as a designated medical examiner for the Federal Aviation Administration.
Dr. Cook’s Prescription for Success:
Number 1: “Dedicate your life to doing something that makes you feel like you’re making a difference. If you do that, you’ll never dread going to work. If you do dread going to work, figure out why and then fix it if you can or find another line of work if you can’t. If you’re a miserable at your job, it will affect every part of your life. You and your family deserve better.”
Number 2: “Always be prepared to reinvent yourself. Every day that life grants you is going to be different and change is going to come much faster than you thought. To resist change for no purpose other than to protect your own level of comfort is a certain recipe for failure. That said, learn to face change with a critical eye. Not everything new is going to survive the test of time, so do not chase folly down a dead-end road.”
Number 3: “Learn from your past successes and failures, but do not dwell there. The words attributed to the mathematician and scientist and poet Omar Kayam are worth remembering:”
The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.
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Notable quotes from Dr. Cook’s podcast:
This is not my first experience in broadcasting, in fact, my very first real job was as a disc jockey at WABT radio in Tuskegee, Alabama.
So now that I’ve retired from my surgical practice, I’m really excited to be able to come back and revisit my career as a broadcaster in this new medium of podcasting. Now, the prescription for success podcast has been a very long time coming. You see I’ve practiced medicine for just over four decades. Most of that was in general and vascular surgery and I finally finished up my clinical years in chronic wound care and hyperbaric medicine.
Medical science has changed very quickly, but the nonclinical side of medical practice has changed way faster and it’s not showing any signs of slowing down. And here’s what really worries me: Simultaneously with all of those changes in the last four decades, we’ve seen the emergence of a new term that I never ever heard during my first 20 years in practice. That term is physician burnout.
I don’t really remember a time when I wasn’t fascinated by what doctors do and my very earliest memories of visiting the family doctor who was also a board certified surgeon. By the way, I was fascinated, fascinated by the exam room, the smells, the instruments, the sounds, the quiet tone of the conversations, the gentle but very purposeful feel of the physician’s hands when he examined me. And later on when I began to develop an interest in science and I started to understand that the modern healing arts owe their very existence to science, well my career path, at least the beginning of it, was pretty well determined.
There was also time to get to know the hospital staff: the nurses, the techs, the housekeeping people, the plant operations people, the pharmacist, you know, the people that make the hospital function and especially those nurses, how hard they work, how deeply they care, how little they’re respected. It took me back to those days when I worked side-by-side with the folks that do the vast majority of hospital work and they get so very little of the credit. When I had 24/7 responsibility in my earlier practice, I don’t think I appreciated those folks enough.
I don’t have nearly the vocabulary to properly say how hard it was for me to leave clinical medicine after 44 years, not just because I would miss the patients, but also because of all the people that I’ve worked with. People just as dedicated as I am, people that feel like family to me, people that I’ve spent almost as much time with as I have with my own family. I will miss them all and I will cherish uncountable memories of things that we did together, things I could never have done without them. Closing down my medical practice was among the most difficult things I’ve ever had to face.