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April 26, 2004
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The H.R. Doctor Is In

Every Parent’s Dream — There Is a Doctor In the House!

Dear Dr. Rachel,

How amazing it is to be able to write to you and recognize your magnificent achievement of graduation from medical school! To see you enter the graduation ceremony stage at one end as Ms. Rachel Rosenberg and "exit stage right" as licensed physician "Dr. Rachel" is the kind of dream that all parents hope for their children.

You have evolved so very far from the very beautiful little infant who commanded my presence so often in the middle of the night. Your new status is also a joy that is shared by every other family member, as well as your extended family of friends, colleagues, and perhaps the 11 people around the country who read the HR Doctor articles.

It is a joy to be shared because, in a real sense, your graduation from medical school is a metaphor for the achievement of one very major life milestone and the beginning of many others.

Being able to achieve important goals and dreams alone is not enough. What is the source of real joy is to combine those achievements with not only a brief period of celebrating, but with an immediate commitment to find and accept new challenges Ð challenges that will allow you to contribute way more than you or I might have ever thought possible. These other goals can now be launched from a higher plane of knowledge and experience.

Successful physicians, not to mention engineers, baseball coaches, business owners and every person who is a manager must also be a human resources manager in order to be successful. Successfully keeping a young child healthy requires a team effort just as a successful surgery does. Without the team being successful, the individual members of the team will not succeed.

What this means in terms of free advice from the HR Daddy is that the key to your success is to be part of a team and create a team of people that knows you are committed to their success.

It means not falling prey to the deadliest of all diseases in society — one not covered in medical school — arrogant pride. You know that you now have the title "doctor" in front of your name, which means that you will be entitled to and will receive deference, a high degree of privilege and recognition. However, don’t take any of that too seriously to the point where you forget that you are not entitled to any of that recognition and privilege unless you continually earn it by showing a clear commitment every day, on duty and off duty, to the success of other people and to being a champion for others. This is what our lives are really all about as professionals in any field.

Recently, I talked to you about having a big party to celebrate your "doctor-hood." When you said that you would prefer no party, but rather a quiet celebration, I initially began a minor degree of whining about how great it would be to have our friends together in celebration.

In thinking carefully about your response, I have come to understand your continued wisdom. The idea of such a party is derived from our pride as parents Ð perhaps excessive pride. You have healed me of that by your calm and more mature desire for quiet joy rather than public joy.

So, Doctor Daughter, use your new license and title to be far more than a medical practitioner applying drugs, therapies, tests, etc., to the people who trust their well-being to you. Don’t be a doctor, be a healer. Help people preserve and improve health rather than just intervene clinically after a problem has already occurred.

Contribute in the community through volunteer work at a United Way, Women In Distress, or any of the hundreds of other charities that need your skills, advice, and support. Find joy every day in your continued studies, your family-practice residency program, and your daily practice. Don’t ever lose your sense of humor and your sense of respect for other people.

Your sister, the beautiful HR daughter Elyse, wonderful mom Charlotte, the HR spouse, and I stand in awe and send you our congratulations, our respect and our love. Even the HR pets Kamala, Nimbus and Louie take pride in knowing that we may at last have a source of health care through your colleagues who might even consider waiving our co-pay as a professional courtesy!

The proud — but not arrogant — HR Dad.

Phil Rosenberg


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