How Did I Get Here? (Professionally)

Life is fascinating. Do you ever wonder how you ended up where you are today? I started out my career in Academia. I was going to have a career as a college professor. Why? Because I loved teaching. While working on my Master’s Degree I had the opportunity to teach several classes and loved it. I thought that teaching was my calling. While attending the Ph.D. program at U-Mass Amherst, I taught at local colleges to bring in extra income: Westfield State College, U-Mass Amherst and Community College of Vermont. It was a blast.

But I ended up leaving Academia because I grew disillusioned. I found that the emphasis at major universities was on research, publishing, and presenting at industry conferences, rather than on teaching. As a faculty member, it was about building your CV. To me, it seemed like their priorities were all wrong. Not only did faculty seem uninterested in teaching, for the most part they weren’t very good at it. So I left that life and began my career in marketing (much to the dismay of my parents who had their hearts set on me becoming a college professor).

What I find so amusing is that over the last 20 years I have developed a career where I now spend a ton of time writing articles, publishing, and speaking at conferences. For me, the cool thing is that all of that fits within the context of teaching. (I’m not trying to secure tenure anywhere.) Whether I am face-to-face with a client, coaching an employee, writing an article or speaking at a conference, I am always teaching (and learning). That’s one of the things that excites me about marketing and social media: they are ever changing and evolving. I am constantly learning and then sharing what I learn via my blogs, twitter, articles, presentations and webinars.

I started thinking about all of this a couple days ago when an article I co-authored was published in the Joint Commission’s Journal on Quality and Patient Safety. Having an article published in a scholarly, peer-reviewed journal was exactly what my colleagues in Academia lived for. It helped them on their path to tenure and moved them up the departmental pecking order. Most importantly, it was a stature building event. I can tell you with certainty that no one at Jennings (my current firm) even knows that this article was published. Nor have most of them even heard of the Journal on Quality and Patient Safety. But I will confess that the inner teacher in me is thrilled about the article. People who work in patient safety at hospitals around the country will soon be reading about the innovative program we launched at Tufts Medical Center in Boston and the measurable impact it had on helping to create a culture of quality within the organization. Hopefully they will learn from Tufts’ experience and improve patient safety in their own organizations. I’m a marketing nerd and that kind of achievement makes what I do worthwhile.

I guess that January is a good month for both reflecting and for looking ahead. Even though I think it’s ironic that I’ve ended up in this position, I sure am happy that I’m here. I love what I do and I have found my calling. I don’t know many people who can say that about their professional path. I hope you can.

So, how did you end up where you are?

Post by Dan Dunlop, The Healthcare Marketer

3 comments on “How Did I Get Here? (Professionally)

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention How Did I Get Here? (Professionally) « The Healthcare Marketer --

  2. What a great post, Dan!

    I studied art and psychology in college and I started my career in healthcare by working in an orthopedic group as a temporary receptionist. Serendipity!

    Over the last twenty-five years later I have learned that I like being creative in business more than I like making art, and that I am passionate about being creative in healthcare.

    I have certainly wondered why I’ve gravitated to certain jobs over the years, but in retrospect it all fits together amazingly well. When a close family member had a gastric bypass last year it was an emotional and eye-opening experience. It’s one of the reasons I moved to Cary, NC to accept a position with a bariatric surgery practice. I am passionate about helping patients and their families abide this incredibly challenging and life-changing time.

    Best wishes,

    Mary Pat

    • Mary Pat – thanks so much for your comment! I loved learning about your background. Very cool! Take care, Dan

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