My whole career has sometimes felt like pushing against a huge rock. Not just because of the hard work, but because there still is much stigma and discrimination against people with addiction and mental illness. Chipping away at the barriers to person-centered services and systems has defined much of my professional passion and priorities.
SPARKING interest in Systems
My first job as a psychiatrist landed me on an addiction treatment team not because of my exquisite knowledge about addiction, but because they couldn’t get anyone else to work on that team. That on-the-job training from addiction counselors changed my career trajectory and in 1981, I started up and directed a 16 bed Addiction Treatment Unit. I gained invaluable experience in building services, setting up administrative systems and coalescing and motivating teams to create innovative quality healthcare programs.
The 1990s brought not only changes to the healthcare industry, with managed care decimating the 66 national and international programs over which I was Associate Medical Director, but it heralded new systems and satisfactions. It opened up to me the chance to now not only work in systems providing care, but also to impact systems managing care. Consulting to and training managed care companies that collectively managed the care of over 20 million people was sobering, but stimulating. Redefining quality healthcare in an era of cost consciousness is a challenge I could really get my teeth into.
In 1981, I had begun to taste the first rewards of developing a presentation and not only communicating information, but doing it in a way that spoke to people and even entertained them - as much as a professional presentation can be entertaining! It was a skill I had been partially aware of. I was not unaccustomed to public speaking and my father, older brother and other relatives have been influential role models.
Since those faltering presentations in the early 1980’s, through literally hundreds of lectures, talks, workshops and training courses, I have now reached a level of confidence that fuels my training and consulting on a full time basis.