W elcome to The Trillium Show. In this introductory episode, I explore my long journey towards becoming a physician, the inspiration behind this project, and what to look forward to in future episodes.
Plastic surgery as a specialty focuses on change - both physical and psychological. The Trillium Show will explore these changes through candid conversations and real-life experiences - with me, with my patients, and with guests both related and un-related to medicine who have either dealt with significant personal changes or help shepherd others through life changes themselves. Follow along, as we take a deep dive into both the physical and mental aspects of change to help us navigate the changes in our body, our mind, and our life.
Dr. Hall: Welcome to The Trillium Show, where we help you make the changes you want to see in your body, in your mind, and in your life. I’m your host, Dr. Jason Hall.
Dr. Hall: So, welcome to this first episode zero of The Trillium Show. This is an interesting project that I started because I saw a gap in communication with my patients. Being a physician is about learning how to communicate, and I felt that there was a hole in communication between myself, my office, and our patients. That’s the reason that I wanted to start recording this podcast was to be able to communicate directly with the patients without going through the usual website, social media thing that’s out there.
This is a podcast that’s not about plastic surgery specifically but is about change. Plastic surgery is all about change, and what I’ve grown to understand over the course of my career, which is now over 11 years in private practice, is that what plastic surgery is about is about effecting change, both physically and psychologically. So, this podcast is really a podcast to help people—patients and non-patients alike—navigate, change. Change is hard for a lot of people, and having someone to help shepherd a patient or listener through some of life’s changes is important, and makes people feel like they’re part of a larger community and not navigating these changes by themselves. I guess before we really get started and get into the meat of our podcast episodes, I need to explain a little bit about me, and how I ended up becoming a plastic surgeon because that certainly wasn’t the path that I was on when I went to medical school, now over 20 years ago.
Interestingly, I had gone to medical school to be a gynecologist and join my dad in practice. And as I went through medical school rotations, I really fell in love with the field of surgery, specifically general surgery because of the variety that the general surgeons did. I got kind of sucked into the critical care trauma surgery world because of the problem-solving nature of many critical care doctors’ practice. So, that took me from Wake Forest in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, down to Dallas to UT Southwestern’s general surgery program. There I joined the program or was recruited to join the program because they had a good track record of placing general surgery residents in pediatric general surgery, which at the time and still is, a very competitive subspecialty, which only takes about 30 fully trained general surgeons and trains them as pediatric surgeons every year. So, that was the goal.
And what I found when I was there is that UT Southwestern had an outstanding plastic surgery program, and I got to be friends with a lot of the residents who were going through the same training as I was at the time, and see what it was that they got to do. And the complexity, the problem-solving, that I loved about the critical care setting was present in everything that they did, and they got to do cool operations on top of it. So, I switched gears midstream, finished five-year general surgery training program, and then went through the plastic surgery match to train in plastic surgery. So, that took me another two years; I went to Houston for that at the Texas Medical Center—which was a fantastic experience in terms of all of the different aspects of plastic surgery that I got to see—and then finished my training at Stanford with a fellowship in facial surgery, which took the problem-solving and technical aspects of plastic surgery and just took it up a notch. And that fellowship focused on cleft lip repairs, complex face and jaw surgery, and so I really got a very detailed experience there.
And the most important thing that I got out of that, and we can get into that in other—we will get into that in other episodes—my mentors there at Stanford really taught me how to think about plastic surgery, not just as a set of technical skills, but also as a philosophy. And that’s really what plastic surgery is. And that’ll be a topic for another episode as well, is just the philosophy of plastic surgery. So, from Stanford, I went and did a year as a first job outside of Washington DC, and then moved to Houston where I was in practice with a very good friend of mine, a very talented surgeon, and was there for almost five years. And my wife and I decided for a number of reasons that we needed a change.
We love Houston—still love Houston—but it was not the place that we saw ourselves raising our family and so we started looking for smaller markets and ended up coming back to my hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee, to open a solo practice. Going from an established practice that we had in Houston to designing, building, and opening our own practice was daunting, and we did it together; I could never have done it without my wife who was and is right there at every step of the way. She is largely responsible for where we are today. The change, the transition from Houston, and being a part of a well-established, busy practice to solo practice in Knoxville was a shocking change, even though we chose it and were prepared for it. Moving to Knoxville and doing what we were doing was a great decision, both for us as a couple and for our family, but the journey has been hard.
It’s been really hard at times. It’s been hard on our business, it’s been hard on our marriage, and has given us things that we’ve had to work through and made us stronger for it. But it’s not easy. And that really speaks to change itself. As a plastic surgeon, one of my roles is shepherding patients through the surgical process and helping them not only achieve physical goals for themselves but also to help them through the psychological aspect of cosmetic surgery or reconstructive surgery, whatever we’re doing.
The physical part of that actually is the easiest part for a lot of people. It’s the mental part of change, dealing with uncertainty, stepping into the unknown, and changing a part of your identity that is really the difficult part. And if you think about those things, dealing with uncertainty, stepping into the unknown, changing parts of your identity, that’s true of any aspect in life, not just surgery. It’s true with changing jobs, it’s true with changing your family status, having a child, and that’s where this podcast is coming from, is using the experiences that we have here in our office to help you as a listener deal with your own changes by building community there, understanding that we all go through a lot of the same things, and hearing how people have navigated that for themselves may help you deal with whatever it is you’re going through at the time. With this podcast, we’ll look at both the physical and mental aspects of change by having candid conversations and using real-life experience as a guide. So, join me as we explore how to best navigate change in our body, our mind, and in our life, here on The Trillium Show.
Dr. Hall: Thanks for listening to The Trillium Show. You can keep up with the latest on the podcast at jhallmd.com. Be sure to follow us on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to podcasts. If you want to connect with us on social media, you can find us at @jhallmd on Instagram and Twitter, and @DrHallPlasticSurgery on Facebook. Remember, be the change you wish to see in the world.
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