The guest today on Scrubbing In, a medical podcast focused on innovation in the OR, is Bill Bynum, President of Surgical Services for SpecialtyCare.  In this episode, we talk about how his love for biology lead him to a significant career change, how he progressed that career through health care and how his continued love for operating room teams and patient care still drives him in his current leadership role.

 


 

Todd Schlosser: Today we’re gonna be scrubbing in with Bill Bynum. Bill Bynum is our President of Surgical Services here at SpecialtyCare. And I wanted to talk to you today because you have sort of a unique story, or at least an uncommon story when as it comes to healthcare, and how you sort of joined that industry. Can I ask where you first started your career fresh out of college? I think you went to U of F, is that right?

Bill Bynum: Yes, University of Florida.

Todd Schlosser: Did a little bit of research on you beforehand. Sorry about that.

Bill Bynum: It sounds like it. Good. Yes, I graduated from Florida with a business degree. Backing up from that, I was always interested in biology. I loved biology. Straight A’s in biology all my life, always pictured myself going into something to do with biology, science. I liked surgery, even as a child, if I could find … And this is going way back before YouTube, where they have you can pull up videos of surgery of any kind like you can today. You have to search for something on PBS on TV that showed surgery, to watch it. And I always enjoyed that. By the time I got to college, I really, like a lot of college students, I didn’t know what I wanted to be-

Todd Schlosser: I’ve experience similar things.

Bill Bynum: Yeah. So I figured, “I don’t know what I could do with a biology degree, so I better get a business degree. That’ll help me in whatever I go into.” So I got a business degree and came out, actually majored in real estate analysis.
Todd Schlosser: Oh, okay.

Bill Bynum: So I got a job as a real estate appraiser for a bank in Miami. So for the first 15 years of my career out of college, I was a real estate appraiser, so I did that. It was very interesting, I enjoyed it, analysis work. That industry kind of changed over those years. I moved the family out of Miami up a couple hours north to Melbourne, Florida. The job market there for appraisers wasn’t the same, so one of the people I worked with went to work for a medical company in one of the local hospitals. It was providing services to one of the local hospitals, and he came back and said, “You wouldn’t believe what I’m doing. I’m going into operating rooms and providing a service.” And I said, “They realize you’re a real estate appraiser, right? And they’re letting you in the operating …” He said, “No, they provide training and do all this stuff.” I said, “If there’s any opening in the next few months let me know.” And about a month later there was an opening, so I made the switch and moved over to medical and-

Todd Schlosser: And that was roughly 24 years ago.

Bill Bynum: … have loved it ever since. That was 24 years ago.

Todd Schlosser: So you did real estate appraisal for 15 years.

Bill Bynum: Right.

Todd Schlosser: And then you were like, “I like biology and I have a friend who just got into this.” And they sort of looped you in on it.

Bill Bynum: Exactly.

Todd Schlosser: That’s awesome.

Bill Bynum: Yep.

Todd Schlosser: I would say that that probably had a big impact on, I mean, not just you, but your professional life and also your family. Was that a tough transition from real estate appraisal to-

Bill Bynum: At the time, dollar-wise, it was a little setback, but then it grew back. As I moved through the ranks of the company and my job expanded a little bit here and there over the years. It’s been a very good position for me.

Todd Schlosser: Well, being where you are now I’m not surprised to hear that. And I would imagine, not to get further back in the subject, but having a business degree, excuse me, helped you when you got into positions on the leadership side. But, we can focus on that in a second. I’d like to talk to you about … So you started in the operating room, correct?

Bill Bynum: That’s right.

Todd Schlosser: So you went to training. And I’d imagine, you probably had some biology pre-reqs at University of Florida that you took for your business degree, or just your gen ed stuff?

Bill Bynum: Not really, this was-

Todd Schlosser: Oh, so you just came in with a degree.

Bill Bynum: Exactly.

Todd Schlosser: So what was that training process like?

Bill Bynum: Well, it was, really back then the company was pretty brand new, so I was really the 10th person in the company.

Todd Schlosser: Oh, wow.

Bill Bynum: It consisted of a heavy dose of study and materials up front on medical terminology, anatomy procedures, instruments, operating room protocol, and that kind of thing. So really good training, but it took a lot of study. A full two weeks of just cramming and cramming and then an exam that lasted about three hours on all of that information. And that was just … We had to pass that just to be hired with the company.

Todd Schlosser: Okay, so that wasn’t like the total extent of the training was not two weeks.

Bill Bynum: That was not the extent of the training.

Todd Schlosser: I was very concerned.

Bill Bynum: No, that was just to be hired.

Todd Schlosser: Okay.

Bill Bynum: And then to prove that you could learn that material and then use it.

Todd Schlosser: Right, because there’s … I’d imagine hospitals don’t want people who have had crash course to be-

Bill Bynum: Sure, absolutely. And then there was a preceptor on site, so I was with somebody and I started shadowing. So we actually did on-site training at the hospital at that point. Today, that’s different. We change differently now. We have our on-site mock operating room here in our headquarters.

Todd Schlosser: Yeah, I was just in it yesterday. It’s beautiful.

Bill Bynum: Yes, absolutely. State-of-the-art, we’ve got all the equipment in there. But, back in the day when I started, we did that in the hospital, and learned the ropes by shadowing somebody for several weeks, and then you slowly start doing things yourself with somebody watching, and then-

Todd Schlosser: Starting to get more hands on while you have someone assisting you.

Bill Bynum: Exactly. A preceptor there who’s experienced, and at the same time, you’re getting introduced to the hospital staff, and getting to know people.

Todd Schlosser: Now, is this the hospital that you actually ended up working at?

Bill Bynum: Yes.

Todd Schlosser: Okay, so you’re getting to know the management of that hospital, and the corporate culture of that hospital, even though you were working for a different company, which is providing services for them.

Bill Bynum: Correct.

Todd Schlosser: So let me ask, when you’re out of training, maybe … How long did you do that side of the job?

Bill Bynum: You mean total or just the training-

Todd Schlosser: Well, before you moved into sort of the leadership side of things?

Bill Bynum: I’d say about a year as a technician.

Todd Schlosser: So how long did it take you to get comfortable doing that role?

Bill Bynum: Well, we point to about a six month mark where we say, “After six months of doing it everyday, you walk into the hospital and you say, “I’ve got this. I know what I’m doing, I can handle anything that comes up and I know what to do.

Todd Schlosser: I mean, I’ve had jobs where when you first them you’re like, “I don’t know if anyone else can tell, but I feel like I should not be allowed to-”

Bill Bynum: Exactly.

Todd Schlosser: And then you eventually start to get comfortable with it, like, “Anything they can throw at me today, I can handle.” And you get that confidence. And I imagine … How do you say this? Your job satisfaction goes up as you get that-

Bill Bynum: Absolutely.

Todd Schlosser: … because you’re more comfortable in your world.

Bill Bynum: You’re not as nervous, you’re not, “Oh gosh, what if something goes wrong?” You’re walking in saying, “I can handle anything.”

Todd Schlosser: And I’ve never had a role where if something goes wrong, someone’s life is impacted so much. If something goes wrong for me, I just re-edit the podcast.

Bill Bynum: Right, exactly.

Todd Schlosser: But if something goes wrong for you-

Bill Bynum: No re-edit the patient.

Todd Schlosser: Yeah, you can’t re-edit a patient, right. So let me ask, what was your day-to-day like while you were working for that company? I would imagine eventually became SpecialtyCare along the way?

Bill Bynum: Correct.

Todd Schlosser: Okay.

Bill Bynum: One of the … Right, we were acquired by SpecialtyCare along the way. The hours were early, you had to be at the operating room, we liked to get there by 6:30 AM, like an hour before surgery started.

Todd Schlosser: Because there’s a lot of prep work you have to do specifically.

Bill Bynum: Exactly, we had to find instrument trays, supplies, look at a surgeon preference card, and everything that we do to provide the service. We needed to make sure everything was set up for the day. So we got there early and sometimes you didn’t get a lunch, sometimes you didn’t get out of there until 5:00 or 6:00. Then, the team that I worked on, shared on-call rotation, to handle any cases that came up in the night, overnight, or weekend. So sometimes you could work kind of a long day and then be on-call, and be called in at 3:00 in the morning. So those were the days. We were building company up from a start-up and everybody pitched in and did what was necessary.

Todd Schlosser: That kind of culture can be a lot of fun to work in, although, it can be draining. But, it can be also very rewarding, because I bet, and this may not be true in your case, but I’ve worked in atmospheres like that. And the people that I worked with, I don’t work with them any longer, or I work with some of them, but you’ll always sort of love and respect those people, because you were in the trenches together-

Bill Bynum: Absolutely.

Todd Schlosser: … kind of building something that you believed in, and that’s always a lot of fun.

Bill Bynum: Right.

Todd Schlosser: But, it’s a lot of work.

Bill Bynum: And a lot of those people from the early days ended up becoming managers and directors that we have today.

Todd Schlosser: They sort of have to because as the company grows you hire people in, and then you’re the one that trains them because you’re the one that’s been there a while, even though you’ve been there a year. So let’s talk about that. After a year you went from a technician … Is that how you refer to it?

Bill Bynum: Right.

Todd Schlosser: And then you moved into what role?

Bill Bynum: We had various roles that kind of changed names over the time as the company grew obviously, but we called it a group manager, you’re over five or six people. Then there was a region manager, what I went into next, which was a good part of the state.

Todd Schlosser: And this was still Florida?

Bill Bynum: Correct. And then I was over North Carolina and Florida. So it changed a little bit as the company grew and we added accounts.

Todd Schlosser: And is that when you transitioned out of the operating room and you were more of a people manager not a patient manager?

Bill Bynum: Actually, I took a … We started another service that was sterile processing department management, and what I went into was I did the first one of those services where the hospital where we were working was having trouble with their department, and their manager was leaving, and they didn’t have a manager. And we said, “Why don’t I try to be the manager of that department?” And it was really a trial-by-fire, learn-on-the-go position, but I took the role and I did that for three years and managed that department. Learned quite a bit, as you can imagine.

Todd Schlosser: I’m sure, yeah.

Bill Bynum: So I did that for three years, and then that opportunity … They hired a permanent manager, and I went back to the first service with the instruments. So I was back into that side of it. I eventually got into sales, I eventually did contracting, working out of the corporate office, which at that time was in Orlando. And so I have done a little of a lot of different things in the company.

Todd Schlosser: So you were in the OR for about a year and then transitioned to more of a leadership role?

Bill Bynum: right. Probably two or three years in before I did sterile processing.

Todd Schlosser: So do you ever miss being in the operating room?

Bill Bynum: I do, but-

Todd Schlosser: I’d imagine the hours are better-

Bill Bynum: Yeah, exactly. But really, that’s the thing that attracted me to the medical industry, was seeing surgery and being part of those teams in the operating room-

Todd Schlosser: Yeah, because you mentioned that your love for biology.

Bill Bynum: Right. And making a difference in patient care as well. I get to travel out and see groups in our different markets, and I can dress out in scrubs and go in and see surgeries and work alongside people. I don’t get to do that as much as I’d like, but I can do that every now and then just to satisfy that urge.

Todd Schlosser: Sure, that makes sense. So are there any … Well, can I ask, because you started at the company that eventually became SpecialtyCare, you started at that company when it was 10 employees, or you were the tenth employee?

Bill Bynum: Right.

Todd Schlosser: Was there a … I’d imagine you saw a lot of people come into the company that their lives were completely changed by this transition, probably yourself included. So did you see a lot of that over the course of your 24 years in the industry, of people coming into the industry from other backgrounds, or straight out of college, and just seeing how their lives were impacted by that change?

Bill Bynum: Some people had OR experience, so we would hire that were scrub techs or some other position. But, others not. Medical background was not prerequisite because we could train the medical part. We were looking for people that had a customer service attitude, great work ethic, and maturity about them to be able to handle themselves and conduct themselves professionally in front of our customers. A lot of the people did not have a medical background. Yes, they did come from other jobs, and some right out of school, but that’s part of the interview process, to let them know exactly what to expect in this job. It can be pretty demanding, and we do our best to paint the picture as best we can so that they know what they’re getting into.

Todd Schlosser: That’s fair. Can I ask, because you mentioned having sort of a customer service focus, why is that important in this industry to make sure that, I guess, you have that customer service focus? Why is that important?

Bill Bynum: Just like any business that is serving customers, hospitals have very little room for error, there’s even more so than other businesses.

Todd Schlosser: I’d imagine.

Bill Bynum: So the surgeons, a lot of times there’s competition for surgeons among hospitals, so they wanna keep their surgeons satisfied, happy with the hospital that they’re working in. You have to provide what the hospital wants, you have to be positive. I mean, we’re there because they allow us to come in and provide our service, so we have to remember that and we have to act like it as we’re serving the patients and the surgeons and the hospital.

Todd Schlosser: I feel like that’s something that’s often overlooked, maybe not necessarily by SpecialtyCare, but in a lot of different industries. Like when you call in your cable provider or whatever, and that’s their job, and it’s not that there are no stakes, but calling your cable provider to get something taken care of is not as big of a deal as going into surgery for something. So it’s just, when you said that, I wanted to ask that follow up question, because that interests me. And I’d imagine that customer service mindset of, “We’re here to help”, helps with just the general attitude in the actual operating room.

Bill Bynum: And that mindset also helped us grow our business because-

Todd Schlosser: I’m sure that’s true.

Bill Bynum: … if you have a positive attitude about helping the hospital solve their issues, their challenges, then they’ll come to us if they have a problem. If they have something that’s a challenge that they can’t deal with, they’re trying to figure out how to make it more efficient, and if we just say, “No, that’s your problem.” That doesn’t do anything for anybody. But, if we can say, “Let’s talk about this, tell me the problem. Let us put our heads together and see if we can come up with a solution.” Then you branch out into different types of products that you can provide with your services, and it helps the hospital.

Todd Schlosser: So how long have you been in your current role as the President of Surgical-

Bill Bynum: Not quite a year, probably last August.

Todd Schlosser: Okay, so how did you make that jump into … Well, what was the role before that?

Bill Bynum: I was Vice President of Surgical Services. That role has now changed to Region Presidents, there are two of those, so then the directors report up to them. The president of this division actually left the company about a year ago, and so I stepped in as an interim, or acting, president for a while. Then, was put into the role permanently.

Todd Schlosser: They sort of gave you a test drive,-

Bill Bynum: Right, exactly.

Todd Schlosser: … and then were like, “You’re doing great, we’ll keep you here.”

Bill Bynum: I didn’t wreck the car.

Todd Schlosser: I’d imagine that’s important.

Bill Bynum: That’s right.

Todd Schlosser: So, okay, you were in the OR for about a year, and then you transitioned to leadership, and I’d imagine that having that business degree helped out quite a bit with that.

Bill Bynum: It’s coming into play a little more now than it has in the past, but yeah, sure. I mean, everybody from director level on up is responsible for the financials every month, and the performance of their operating unit. The operating units a little bigger for me now, but same principles apply.

Todd Schlosser: Yeah, it’s just a bigger playing field.

Bill Bynum: Absolutely.

Todd Schlosser: So I would like to close with just one final question. If you’re out with friends or just talking to a group of people at a convention or something along those lines, what would you say to someone who was considering making a jump into the healthcare field from a different career? I just think you’re uniquely qualified to answer that question, or to give advice in that realm.

Bill Bynum: Sure, a couple of things. One, there’s really nothing so satisfying as working on a team, like in an operating room, and being a part of it and knowing you’re making a difference to patients. You’re helping the surgery go forward without a hitch, without problems, the surgeon has everything they need to do their best for that patient, and to feel that you’re a part of it and you’re helping people. And then, receive the thanks from the hospital staff, say, “Oh, gosh, thanks for being here. We couldn’t have done it without you.” That really is rewarding. Secondarily, the field of providing services in hospital, the medical industry, is so wide and varied, that there are so many jobs, and so many things that you can branch into once you get into it, that can help you move up through your career, and learn different things, and carry you on your way.

Todd Schlosser: Well, Bill Bynum, thank you so much for joining us here on Scrubbing In, we really appreciate it. And I think I’ll just let you get back to your very busy day I’m sure.

Bill Bynum: It’s busy. So thank you for having me on the podcast, I appreciate it.

Todd Schlosser: Absolutely. Thank you so much.

Bill Bynum: All right.