How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?
My close friends would probably say I haven't changed much in terms of values, but I do feel I am more reliable and serious while dealing with issues. It is a continuous process. I am the owner of the company, but I am also the CHP Program Manager, which means I am here for students every day in the hospital. And I honestly love this. Every student is different in personality and professional goals, as well as our almost 80 mentors - doctors, nurses, paramedics, biomedical technicians, and engineers or physical therapists that I meet on a daily bases to ensure all works well. I love the hospital environment, and I am happy to be frequently in the ORs and diagnostic departments to write about the fantastic job Czech healthcare professionals do.
With the decision to become an entrepreneur, a great deal of responsibility and stress became a part of my life too. I am more mature and more humble as, although I gained a lot of knowledge and skills throughout the years, there is so much more to learn and so much more to explore every single day. The stress relief to me is music. I became a part of an amazing jazz band, and our concerts are sort of meditation to me.
Besides, there is a great story behind every student here; we work quite extensively to know precisely the expectations and personal goals of each student before he or she arrives in Prague. And the motivation of the young people coming is of great importance to us. And it is just amazing to see the change in such a short time of weeks or months in them, too.
What is the best story you've heard from a return student?
There are so many of them, but I had recently this nice call once driving from work. It was a mother of one of our Alumni students who left a week before. I knew that the student found her passion in the Otorhinolaryngology specialty and Head and Neck Surgery here as we talked about it a bunch of times. And her mom told me:
"So my daughter has only this one wish for her Bday. When I asked whether we can help with it anyhow, she said to me that she would like to come again to take part in the CHP Program".
I replied that it is, of course, possible and asked her whether they already talked about when she would like to arrive to hold her the spot in the ENT specialty. I supposed it would be the next summer. And the mom replied, laughing, that her daughter would like to come again in a few weeks. I was happy and genuinely surprised, so I wanted to share this moment with the ENT mentoring team. I called doctor Jan straight away to check if it would be OK for them to have there the same student for two weeks. They were so pleased that they said yes without any hesitation. It is one of the moments when you realize you are doing your work the right way.
If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?
That is a difficult one. It would depend on my current situation as a student - whether I have no experience being a pre-med or pre-nursing student, or whether I graduated already and knew which specialties I want to focus on. If I were a pre-medical student, I would probably pick multiple specialties with the right balance between the focus on pediatrics and adult patients, surgical and non-surgical specialties and diagnostic ones, too. I would go for instance for the ENT and Head and Neck Surgery Specialized Center because of their wide area of interest and super-specialized focus such as on skull base surgery. Then I would pick the Otorhinolaryngology for Children because the team is as well amazing and so skilled and I would want to have a good comparison on how much the approach in pediatric and adult patients differs in one specialty.
I would choose a diagnostic field to have an advantage in anatomy and case studies such as Radiology and Diagnostic Imaging where our mentoring team focuses on both - children and adults in the University Hospital in Motol. Or the Nuclear Medicine, which I found personally so exciting for people who are into physics and science.
I probably could not miss the Obstetrics and Gynecology in my preferences as most of the healthcare professionals say that to witness the natural birth is the most magical moment in medicine and the team comes across so many different cases where they must cooperate with other specialists, e.g., from the Children Heart Center.
And apart from that that I would choose an internal medicine specialty - Infectious Diseases Department - as they take care of a variety of cases and I would like to have a comparison between the surgical specialties and a field where being able to make the right diagnoses is crucial.
And then I would do the ER... and well, basically all the specialties. To me it is almost impossible to choose as when you know the mentoring teams personally, and the excellent work, treatment, methods and procedures they do, you realize how interconnected the specialties are. And you want to absorb all the knowledge possible. That is why I am so happy to be in the hospital environment and organize the Tutorials and Excursions weekly for our students to extend their views and knowledge on so many topics, case studies, and skills!
What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?
In my opinion, what makes us different is the way we think about education and experiential learning. I spent quite some years in education by asking students about their needs, motivation and why specifically their expectations were not met in the study programs they took part in.
That is why I created the CHP Program, where we focus on students' interests and preferences while helping them to be truly ready for the experience in a real clinical environment on such a high level as the one of the University Hospital in Motol.
I want our students to know the maximum even before they apply for the specialty, departments and specialized centers, typical patient cases, procedures and treatment methods, and, last but not least, about the most important people in their placement - their mentors. Only then they can choose well what really fits them as a specialty field. When you know what the daily tasks of your mentoring team are, you have a solid idea on what to expect and motivation to study to be ready for it.
What's more, we have students from all around the world with a different educational background who can be in the last year at high school or studying medicine in the 5th year. That is why we do mostly individual shadowing and why we prepared an essential knowledge base concerning every single specialty as our study materials and also much more on how to behave in a country-specific professional environment in the biggest hospital in Central Europe. With that goes hand in hand our approach to specialty shadowing - one student shadowing one mentor. The mentor can adjust to the level of knowledge of the student who is interested in his/her specialty and in what the mentor explains. Our students have the full attention of their mentors, too. I don't believe in shadowing in a group of people with a different background. Sometimes an introvert you can hardly get the most out of the placement in comparison to your extrovert peers. That is not rear in the group of people.
Another part of the job is being present in the hospital all the time and be ready to help students, organize their activities and also be here for the mentors whenever there is an unpredictable issue. I know all the people who take part in the CHP Program personally, I selected them, and I meet them on a regular basis to ensure all goes smoothly. That means we give our students relevant information, they are safe with us and, as the owner, I make personally sure that all goes the best way possible receiving feedback directly from the students. That means to me also an excellent input for our plans.
To be honest, to see that the idea behind the CHP Program works makes me proud of what we achieved with my team quite often. As we've overcome so many obstacles and hard work to make it all run. We intensively work with the feedback from the Alumni students to make sure that we do improve all the time. I am not the type of an owner who would step aside from being in touch with our customers thinking that what I did is enough and there is nothing else that could be better. I am happy to pick up the students at the airport or do a tour around Prague with them like everybody else in the team. And that way the team spirit and shared responsibility is natural to all of us.
What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?
Personal qualities of people in the company - honesty, decisiveness, ability to accept failures and to learn from them. Honesty that you cannot do all. That you necessarily don't do a specific task better way than any other member of your team. That you fail, epically from time to time, but you need to take responsibility for being accountable for the decisions you made. That you can look at the failure go through what happened step by step putting aside your ego and make sure you won't repeat it. I hope that with this attitude you can attract the right kind of people around you who stick with you in tough times and who genuinely help when you need it the most. And I believe that these qualities are crucial in the area of education.