The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic gave each of us an opportunity for introspection, a chance to slow down, and a challenge unlike any other. For healthcare professionals and those devoted to ensuring access to vital resources, this period became our ultimate trial. It tested the very essence of our being, questioning our motives day in and day out, and challenging our passion to care for others.
I started my career in the lab at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and it was there I first realized my calling. Over the past 24 years, I have proudly served as a physician assistant, a role that resonates deeply with me. In my early practice, I engaged in house calls, fostered personal connections with patients’ families, and closely monitored their hospital stays and specialist visits. From welcoming newborns into the world to comforting grandparents in their final moments, I cherished the privilege of walking alongside others through the entire spectrum of life.
A New Call
In 2003, I was working as a hospitalist rounding on my patients when the hospital CEO approached and invited me to become his Director of Business Development. I confess, I initially thought the idea was strange, given my lack of experience in the business world.
“You can learn the business side of things,” he explained, “but it’s hard to teach someone the ins and outs of healthcare. This is your world. Plus, the key to being successful in business is all about relationships, and you excel at building relationships.”
So, I found myself at a crossroads, torn between my love of patient care while being drawn toward a new path where I could have a broader impact on healthcare through collaborative efforts on the business front. The nights of restlessness as my time with patients dwindled became a stern reminder of my commitment to delivering the care they rightfully deserved. I held to my belief that every individual should be treated with the utmost attention and dedication they deserved, not hurried through a conveyor belt of appointments.
During the COVID crisis, I returned to my role as a hospitalist out of a sense of duty. Those two years etched profound memories that will forever remain with me. But eventually the opportunity to return to the business side of healthcare presented itself, and I made the leap once again.
What Success Looks Like
Each day, a multitude of dedicated individuals work tirelessly to improve our healthcare system. Yet, as a nation, we have not untangled all the complexities. With an aging population, the strains on caregivers and our healthcare infrastructure intensify, highlighting the pressing need for our continued efforts.
I have been blessed throughout my career with amazing experiences, collaborating with exceptional individuals, guided by esteemed mentors, and enriched by the memories of patients who entrusted me with their care. Success, to me, now holds a distinct hue—a world that is better through my contributions. When the pandemic prompted a soul-searching moment inviting me to scrutinize my “why,” the answer was easy. I am motivated each day by an unwavering love for what I do, united with the conviction that there remains an abundance of work yet to be done.
Lisa Cotten, PA-C
Lisa Cotten, CICOA’s new Director of Business Development, is a board-certified physician assistant and a board-certified clinical laboratory scientist. She has been a physician assistant for 24 years and has clinical experience in internal medicine, hospitalist, geriatrics, family practice, bariatric medicine and vascular surgery.