I’ll start with a confession: I played hooky from the office for a couple of hours this morning. No, I wasn’t out for a run or off to yoga (my usual activities when I am playing hooky), or trying to get a manuscript done without distractions. I spent some time touring the Utah Opera Production Studios, then at a strategy meeting for Utah Symphony Healthcare Night, which is coming up in March. Some of you are also aware that I am involved with a capital campaign committee for the Alpha Delta Pi Foundation. Most of you are well aware that at any given moment I have more than a few things going on- though I shy from the word “busy” because really, we all are busy.
I suspect that some think I’m a little crazy for taking on these additional roles that have absolutely nothing to do with my academic surgical career, and that may well be true. But I take these things on and I take them on with joy. My truth is that I have an obligation to my community, however I define that, to make it a better place. My belief is that I am incredibly fortunate to be where I am doing what I do on a daily basis (even when call induced sleep deprivation makes me super-crabby, as it may have this week). My obligation is to face the world as a leader because of all that I have both earned and been given.
Of awards I have received over the years, this one is quite possibly my favorite. It is named in honor of one of our faculty members who was the Founding Dean of the medical school at Texas A&M. I spent a lot of time talking to Dr. Knight as a medical student about many, many things (the fact that he was ordained Methodist clergy particularly fascinated me since Divinity School was my back-up plan if I didn’t get into medical school) and he is someone I will always have tremendous respect for; he was a medical educator before that was “cool” and he was absolutely committed to the physician having more dimensions than a plate. His emphasis on the physician as a community leader was something that stuck with me, something I tried to do every day as a medical student, and something I continue to strive to be.
In hindsight, I realize how truly fortunate I was to have a mentor who believed so strongly in science, in compassion, and in leadership. I’m not sure that I get all of those things exactly right every single day but I do know that as a physician they define who I aspire to be. Most importantly I hope that by modeling these qualities that I’m helping to shape the next generation of physicians- something that I know would make Dr. Knight incredibly proud of his legacy.
How are you going to be a leader today? It doesn’t have to be anything big. Start where you are. And lead on!