I was a practicing OB/GYN in a community hospital, and my patient was a lovely woman. But my patient was also well into labor, in extreme pain, and not acting like her everyday self. I had to enlist a team of four nurses to help me calm her down to ensure a safe delivery. When the baby’s heart rate fell, the situation became emergent. I reached in for the infant — and the panicked mom kicked me in my shoulder, twice.
Immediately, I knew something was wrong. Unable to fight back tears, I finished the delivery — baby and mother were well — but I knew right away: I was not OK.
For seven months, I continued to work with a torn labrum, my pain increasing as my range of motion decreased. Despite diagnostic tests, physical exams and injections, my condition developed into adhesive capsulitis, or frozen shoulder. I had always prided myself on my physical and emotional strength and dexterity. Now, surgical equipment became too difficult to maneuver. Deliveries became too painful to bear. I had to stop practicing, and undergo surgery.
To put it mildly, the procedure was not as successful as I’d hoped. The limited mobility I regained wasn’t enough for me to continue my profession as I knew it, and I soon came to realize my immediate future would not include operating or delivering babies. The career I’d worked so long and so hard on was slipping through my hands. I was devastated, heartbroken.
I was also unprepared for the next hurdle. Unbeknownst to me, workman’s compensation and my hospital-provided physician disability insurance, the safety nets I’d taken for granted as a resident and attending, did not automatically go into effect to give me the stability I’d assumed they would. Insult added to injury when I, a mother of two and my family’s primary breadwinner, suddenly faced a terrifying new financial reality: My newfound disability meant my family could lose my income.
Eventually, I had to go to court to fight for, and eventually receive, the benefits I knew were rightly mine. As I went through this struggle, I found myself answering more and more questions from colleagues who, like me, assumed they were protected by their hospital- or practice-provided disability insurance policies. My physician friends now saw that they, too, could become injured or ill, and they wanted to make sure what happened to me wouldn’t happen to them. I was happy to help other attendings and residents go through their policies’ fine print, ask the right questions, and direct them toward the coverage they needed. After all, healthcare providers are my people. Of course I’d help them out.
That’s when a friend in the insurance business stepped up and suggested I turn this newfound expertise of mine into a new career. At first, I balked. I was a physician: I didn’t want to give that up.
But then, I realized that being a physician put me in a unique position: I knew medicine. I knew hospitals and medical practices. Now I know disability insurance for physicians and nurses, and could speak as a doctor to other doctors and healthcare providers to help them secure their careers.
My experiences, knowledge and background could serve to connect my peers with solid, reliable and affordable disability coverage, so they would never have to endure what I did.
That’s where I am today. I’m still an OB/GYN. But I’m also a hands-on advocate for physicians. We take care of others. We absolutely must take care of ourselves. My mission? Empower and educate my friends in healthcare about disability insurance.