Leveling the playing field on badminton courts and professional practice

in CME/Medicine/Opportunities by

I’ve been playing badminton for almost a year now but never enjoyed any other sport as much as I enjoyed whacking shuttle cocks now. I have long accepted the limits of my innate athletic ability. But when my fitness level went off scale after med school and residency, I went berserk in panic search for a sport that would trim down excess calories.

“I am awfully fat. Period.”

I jumped at any sport that came my way- swimming, mountain biking, marathon, volleyball and even basketball, to name a few. I dabbled at a sport for some time and then moved on to another if it bored me to death already. But when my nephews invited me to a badminton game in our backyard, my affair with rackets and shuttle cocks never stopped since then.

” I gotta have one of those “Yonex” MP racket, promise!”

I got hooked and seriously believed that being “geeky” on badminton would somehow improve my nominal athletic skills to competitive level and burn fats at the same time.

I almost thought this was “MI 4”.

I started training– albeit non formally, with the help of my nephews and friends. I read books, searched the net, watched training videos, international matches, and then applied what I saw on and off court. I stalked coaches, watched former national players’ matches, and asked endless questions to athletes often shunned as an obnoxious behavior.

“That was an awesome cross court shot don’t you think?”

Whilst a beginner, I joined matches and insisted taking on better skilled opponents. Obviously my ass got whipped left and right. I lost count of the times I was floored on court chasing shuttle cocks and losing balance. Most veteran players laugh at my mistakes. Some ridicule me at my clumsiness and shun off my competitive attitude on court.

Like Rudy in Rudy.

But I was serious not just on winning but also on improving my game and losing some extra calories. I took notes of my mistakes, applied new skills whenever possible and consistently improved tactics through drills and training. Results were barely tangible at first.

Until, I first won my class E championships.

Almost a year passed and I have improved a lot from where I started. Everyone seem to notice the “fit body” and weight loss (~30lbs) I incurred from playing this sport almost daily. Modesty aside, I learned a number of skills, improved my stamina and then pushed the limits of my athletic ability to levels I only dreamed of before. Given an equally skilled partner in a doubles match, I can deliver my previous court “tormentors” a smash past their speed limits or give them hard time winning matches against me. Interestingly, you gain more friends with more skills you learned!

At the bottom of this improvement is the commitment to learn, accept, improve, train and apply new skills to beat your handicap and win friends. Have I started this type of attitude and training 30 years ago, I would have given Lin Dan a run for his spot in badminton world rankings!

But that is purely speculative I guess. Thirty years later.

>Professional practice in the business of medicine is analogous to learning and improving in a new sport, like badminton. Like it or not, when you are a newbie entering a competitive medical or surgical practice, chances are, you’d eat dust and be shunned away by “colleagues” for dabbling at “their craft”.

Or crap.

Medical practice is basically of skills and competition. Clinical and patients skills and the competition to earn one’s practice. You gotta learn some skills and improve on it. And almost always, it’s lonely being a newbie in the business of medicine.

The field is not without “he-who-went-there-first” type of people, who have been comfortable in their share of patients’ pie, but forgot to acknowledge the need for “new blood” to be infused in the learning process. These ‘colleagues” will feel threatened by your aggressiveness and learning skills. Either they whip your ass or shun you away from “the practice”. Worst, you will be shot at first sight, and will offer you lots of excuses to do so.

In one interview I attended, an interviewer admonished a training program applicant for signifying his intention of practicing in the same place where this guru is comfortably practicing. On surface, the excuse was “it’s too crowded”. Yet, on deeper prodding you’d find no clear evidence that it is in fact the status quo. The patient to specialist ratio is still wanting and that new skills have to be learned for specific type of diseases. This is where the newbie trainee is hoping to fit in. He has new skills, an updated learning, a conscious effort to improve and a love for the community. In my opinion that’s all he need to be in this “game” of competitive medical practice.

My take on this and my advice for newbies ? Learn your craft, improve your skills, create a market for your expertise, stay on the side of the patient, and just ignore the rants thrown at you. I’m pretty sure that later, when you have grasp firmly on new found skills and niche, you’ll never be threatened by anybody on account of “overcrowding”.

And maybe shame them all by extend help to newbies entering into the practice.

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Dr. Remo-tito Aguilar co-founded #HealthXPh. A board certified orthopedic surgeon, he is previously Chief of Clinics at St. Louis Hospital in Tacurong City and a consultant in Orthopedics at the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City. Dr. Aguilar is a healthcare social media evangelist and writes his medical musings at The Cast & Curious (www.remomd.com).

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