I’m Back!!! LOL. Onward and Upward or At Least Somewhere. MOVE PEOPLE. – Dr. Plastic Picker

I’m Back!!! LOL. Onward and Upward or At Least Somewhere. MOVE PEOPLE.

| Posted in Climate Advocacy (AAP/Climate Reality/ClimateHealthNOW)

My tribe. Beautiful people.

August 12, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I did it. I am living my truth. I applied for a regional position in Physicial Leadership Development. I have no idea if I will be considered and what that would mean for our lives if I get it, but I’m proud that I took that risk and spoke my truth and applied for it. It was the night before the deadline and I had been thinking about that position for several months, and frustrations and then successes in middle-management made me realize that it was time. I need to grow. I’m well now, and my roots are firmly planted and healthy and I’m ready to sprout. I don’t know where. I don’t know if I’ll go left or right, but I need to grow in my climate leadership and my work-work leadership. I need to move on in my career. It’s best for me and best for my department. I’ll still be part of our department and Assistant Boss for now, but it’s time to make a lot of other people grow up too.

Somehow after our last meeting, I’m back to doing what I was doing in the first place. My feeling is that there is finally an appreciation of the work that I’ve done for the past four years. I told this readership on the blog that it would fall apart. I tried to help the new team figure it out. But they didn’t. And here I am back today and will help try to hardwire the changes and teach people what I do. I shook things up. I pointed out our leadership teams flaws. It was painful and I got bruised and others got bruised along the way. But we don’t get the big fancy titles and the non-clinical time for nothing. We are in our positions to make the lives of the front-line staff better. We are there to support the clinical work in real substantial ways. I’m not an easy person, I’ve never been. But I hope I’ve been someone whose left each committee I’ve been a part of , every group I’ve been a part of – better.

So I had a uber-successful day at middle-management work, that was not nonsense but actual work and it was very gratifying. Vaccine projects moving forward. New physicians slipped into the system and ready to go. Did my smoozing with our part-time doctors so they feel loved and appreciated, and then will work with us.

But the most important part, is that I feel a time of growth coming up. I don’t know if I will get this position. If not, I’ll apply for another one. I’ll wrap up my role in middle-management and Assistant Boss and get it ready for the next inhabitant and set them up to succeed. And then I have our wonderful HMO Green/Sustainability Team with two people I absolutely adore. Also vaccines. I’m working on vaccine quality measures and it’s actually been a lot of fun and very interesting. I didn’t think I’d enjoy this work but I really do.

And here are bits of pieces of my personal statement that I submitted. I had to submit my resume as well, and I think the Crimson University part doesn’t hurt. I really think it helps.

Statement of Interest in Physician Leadership Development: I’m a Climate and Health Leader Outside of HMO and Assistant Chief of Pediatrics Within HMO. Why Should You Pick Me.

My name is Dr. Plastic Picker, and I am currently Assistant Chief of Service in Pediatrics at HMO San Diego.  I am taking a risk tonight to apply for this position because anytime one puts oneself out to be judged, it’s a risk.  But it’s a risk I’m willing to take this early morning because I am well.  I am so fundamentally well, and I wanted to tell you a bit about myself and why I would like to be considered for this regional position.

I have been Assistant Chief going into our 5th year now.  If you ask my chief, the AAMD, and AMGA and anyone in San Diego, I think they will tell you that I am an effective and creative leader.  I have been at our HMO for 13 years now and am part of a dual HMO San Diego couple as my husband is also Assistant Chief of Service in Radiology.  His name is Mr. Plastic Picker.  I can talk access, quality, policies, and HMO-isms all day.  But part of why I think I should be considered for this position in Physician Leadership Development is that two years ago I completely burned out.  And being Assistant Chief, with all the metrics and cacophony of being a leader is part of the reason.  Outwardly I was successful and getting praises and affirmations at meetings, but I was not happy.  I thought about leaving our HMO and medicine.  There were other issues that led to that burnout, which included two toddlers that got very sick that summer from cancer in my practice.  They were toddlers and I was close with their families, and it made me sad.  There was also a bullying situation in our department which I tried to confront, and the professional and emotional fall-out was almost too hard to bear.  But I oversaw the young doctors, and I was their supervisor and needed to speak up.  It that whole mess that summer, in retrospect I was burned out and the joy had left medicine.  I’ve talked about my journey on multiple podcast and interviews, but the short and simple story is that I started walking along the beach in the early mornings and picking up plastic and became this weird eco-avatar @drplasticpicker online, just detailing the bags of trash that I picked up.  I have a lot of Instagram followers and over 1000 people visit my blog every day.  It’s non-monetized and for entertainment.  I’ve picked over 500 bags of trash now, became a climate and health advocate on the side, and I’m living my dream as a writer.  I pretty much wake up everyday now and think about how I can save the earth.  And on each walk along the beach with the quiet of the ocean and making my mind slow down by looking for little pieces of plastic -I fundamentally healed.  I even bought a farm recently in Oregon because I always wanted to be a farmer.  I plan to take early separation at 58 and semi-retire there.  I’m only 43, so I have another 15 years at our HMO.  Our 197-acre Oregon farm is also seriously our bunker in case of climate change. 

I’m still Assistant Chief and I know more effective than ever in our organization.  And in my outside HMO life, I became the American Academy of Pediatrics Co-Chair of the Climate Change and Health Committee. I became a writer and have written over 600 blogpost and have now published in many places.  I had always wanted to be a writer, and now I am.  I was senior author on an academic paper for the first time since completing fellowship. If you really want to know who I am, just read that paper “Informing Policy on Built Environments to Safeguard Children in Environmental Justice Communities: Case Study of Five AAP Climate Advocates” which was published in the Journal of Applied Research in Children.  I co-founded a non-profit San Diego Pediatricians for Clean Air, and we have accomplished a lot in a short time on clean-air issues in our area. 

And through this entire process of healing over the last two years, I’ve thought so much about leadership development, environmental justice, racial and health equity, female leadership, physician wellness and structural racism. I’ve thought about it all.  It’s all related. I’m not sure if I’m the right person you are looking for, but perhaps I’m the person you need?  I’m taking a risk in applying for this position.  I also wanted to introduce the importance of climate leadership into our organization beyond the Green Team.  I am a leader in our department and effective and well-regarded.  I’m a state and national leader in the climate and health movement.  I believe in our health-care system. Being a Southern California HMO Physician is at the core of my identity.  I believe I can help save the earth.  I believe I can help change our HMO.  I can work within the system and help make changes.  But in this statement of intent, I think it’s best if I am honest.  The leadership training, I received at our HMO could be improved.  It cost a lot and there was a lot of talk but very little substance that I found helpful.  The leadership training, I received through Climate Reality (the Gore climate group), the American Academy of Pediatrics, Eco-America and other climate groups was transformative to me.  I was thrown into the Assistant Chief role without any training nor support and very little mentorship, and it nearly broke me.  But now I’m better and I’m happy.  My volunteer climate leadership and work has shown me the way. Physician Leadership is about self-knowledge, connectivity, mentorship, and creativity.  As a Physician Leadership Development group our job is to inspire, connect and develop our physician leaders.  I have developed climate leaders among colleagues.  I helped get two pediatricians appointed to the San Diego Air Pollution Control Board, another pediatrician elected to our local American Academy of Pediatrics executive committee, and mentor many premed and medical students.  Within our department, I’ve worked hard to mentor our per diem physicians.  Among our associates and young partners, I think they will tell you I am part of their leadership journey. As I have helped members in my department find their own leadership positions and their voice and passion in our organization.  And another reason you should consider me, is that I’m actually a very happy person.  I laugh a lot these days and other than earnestly talking about the earth, I think I’m fun to be with?  And if you don’t pick me, that is fine too.  I’m proud that I introduced the idea of climate leadership into this process. And I got to tell you, my story.  And my real motive is that through helping our HMO I can also help hardwire climate leadership into our structure. That’s my real motive.  I need to stop climate change. And I’m willing to do whatever it takes.  

I don’t know where life will take me. I told some important people at work that I applied. The most important part is that I applied. I took a chance and I was brave. And you have to be well to be brave and have courage. And that is what the ocean and nature gave me. The earth healed me and she gave me courage. That is it. Thank you for following along on this crazy journey of mine.

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