Monday, January 28, 2013

What's Your 'Why'? Staffers share their stories

Each Monday, CoxHealth president and CEO Steve Edwards welcomes new employees to CoxHealth as they participate in orientation. Each week, he always asks the group a question: “Why did you come into health care?” Some of the responses have been both touching and inspiring.

We recently asked that question of all employees on our intranet so we can all be reminded of why health care is one of the most worthwhile careers. In the coming days, we'll share a number of staff responses here on the blog, beginning today with Dr. Shannon Woods:

Dr. Shannon Woods 
Family Medicine and Orthopedics 

“The reason why I became a physician is kind of long and complicated. I grew up in a home that wasn’t very well-educated and we didn’t have a lot of money. In fact, I was the first person in my family to graduate from high school, let alone college or med school. I saw a lot of negative things, a lot of negative attitudes and there were a lot of negative people around me. Whenever I was growing up, I felt this sense of burden because we didn’t have much money, we grew up on welfare and my folks were frequently in and out of jobs. I felt there was this need that I didn’t want to be in that situation. I wanted to be in a situation where I could contribute something positive to the world and to my community.

I grew up here in Springfield and at a very early age I realized we didn’t have a lot of funds to help me succeed and so I started working, trying to repay society for what they had given me. I always felt a sense of gratitude for the community and for the United States as a whole for the things they had helped provide for me as a child, whether that be food stamps or the WIC program or pre-school. I knew all of these things were paid for by the government. I had a good sense from an early age that all of these things were not free and they were being provided to me to help me become a better person.

When I was 12, I started working selling candy door-to-door; I started saving money to buy my own school lunches and for my own school supplies and clothes and my car, so society didn’t have to pay for me. If you don’t have a car, you can’t get a job. It’s kind of a snowball effect. There’s this hierarchy of needs that you have to go through in order to have success and I had to start laying down those foundations of things.

I was able to start working and achieve that and build on that success with each single step. I guess you could call it a series of fortunate events.

I started searching for a profession where I could make a good living and provide for my future family. I was very determined to try to break that poverty cycle and also find a way to contribute back to society at the same time. I started to think about the idea of health care and eventually I ended up settling on medical school.

So, it was a long process that took me from those early roots that were fairly impoverished to graduating from high school, college and then med school, which was a great accomplishment for me.”