Dr. Edward Dickerson Of Cape Fear Aesthetics Plastic Surgery & Med Spa: “Make sure there is “peace” in your own house before you leave it”

Make sure there is “peace” in your own house before you leave it. The best advice that I could give is what I learned as a 13-year-old going to New York Giants football games with my father and grandfather: Don’t marry anybody who can’t do anything for you. I found my somebody, with that something — my […]

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Make sure there is “peace” in your own house before you leave it. The best advice that I could give is what I learned as a 13-year-old going to New York Giants football games with my father and grandfather: Don’t marry anybody who can’t do anything for you. I found my somebody, with that something — my loving and supportive wife. Having a supportive life partner outside the workplace has helped me and my businesses thrive.

As a part of our interview series with prominent medical professionals called “5 Things You Need To Know To Create a Highly Successful Private Practice” I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Edward Dickerson.

Dr. Edward Dickerson has transformed the Carolinas and the entire East Coast into his canvas with 1,000 rejuvenation celebrations and counting. Discover a doctor with a double dosage of credentials. One certification from the American Board of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery and another from the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Aside from a solid education, Dr. Dickerson laid the foundation for his future during his service to our country. His military service includes serving as the 2nd Brigade Surgeon of the 325 Airborne Infantry Regiment in the 82nd Airborne Division at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina and training in Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery (OHNS) at Brooke Army Medical Center. Later, he landed Chief of Staff of OHNS at Womack Army Medical Center, earned the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and earned numerous awards including the Meritorious Service Award, Two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Army Commendation Medal.

Today Dr. Dickerson spends his nine to five directing Fayetteville Plastic Surgery, Cape Fear Aesthetics, and Cape Fear Aesthetics of Cary — a multi-city premiere combination practice providing cosmetic enhancement services for the entire body and MedSpa. On the home front, beyond fathering his own three, Dr. Dickerson mentors local youth within the Fayetteville community and surrounding areas by providing educational benefits through multiple community organizations, including his Junior PGA organization. Dr. Dickerson has been recognized three years in a row for Best Cosmetic Surgeon in Fayetteville, NC by Up and Coming Weekly.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you ended up where you are?

I’m a military kid who was born in Germany, then raised in a little town right outside of New York City called Peekskill. I went to a historically Black college, West Virginia State College, where my family has been educated for over six generations. We’ve had over 60 of us go to school or work there — and I am very proud to have followed that legacy. I studied chemistry and there found my passion for science and problem-solving. I wanted to serve others ultimately led me head to another historically Black college, Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia. Continuing a life of service, I received my commission in the military and went to Brooke Army Medical Center. There I completed my surgical training in head and neck surgery and otolaryngology and then stationed at Fort Bragg. I finished up my Facial Plastic Surgery Board Certification and continued studying, practicing and training in cosmetic surgery. Since then, I have opened medical practices in two locations in the state of North Carolina.

I have been married for almost 30 years to Dr. Andrea Dickerson and have been blessed with three beautiful children Adriana, Theresa, and Edward V.

I’m a huge fan of mentorship throughout one’s career. None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Who has been your biggest mentor? What was the most valuable lesson you learned from them?

I have had what I like to call generational favor. I am Edward the Fourth; I have had three generations of Edwards that have come before me who have demonstrated service, leadership, and perseverance with clarity. Having Edward Senior, Junior and Third pour into me ensured the foundation of my work ethic and drive to serve my family and community. I vividly remember being told by one of those Edwards,“You may not get any money [from this family], but we’re going to give you this name. Don’t mess it up.” I knew at an early age that carrying my last name was an enormous responsibility. Nevertheless, the Edwards that came before me left me the scaffolding to build on that responsibility in my own way.

The strong Dickerson women have left their mark on me as well. They are highly educated with advanced degrees, serving as deans, teachers and nurses. To say the least, regardless of what profession I chose, my family set me up for success.

When I went to college, the mentorship and molding of my young adulthood continued at West Virginia State College — from professors to administrative leaders — everyone I encountered wanted me to succeed. I gained some of my greatest mentors, advocates and sponsors who saw great potential in me. I had a science professor, Dr. Barbara Oden, who not only taught me, but also my parents. She played an active role in making sure that my medical career would be one of impact. Colonel Que Stephens, professor of military science, ensured that I remained intentional throughout my military training and career. What I took away: you must be able to bear that burden of visibility, especially if you plan on being successful.

What made you want to start your own practice? Can you tell us the story of how you started it?

The reason I became an officer in the military is that I like being in charge, and I don’t like taking orders.

I had an exceptional experience in the military at Fort Bragg, where I served as the Chief of Surgery at Womack Army Medical Center. I really got a chance to cut my teeth and be responsible for the health and welfare of the largest fighting force in the world. From there, it was much easier to transition into a leadership role in private practice where I was the main engine. I really enjoyed that transition, but I must give a shout-out to my experience in the US Army because it has made me the leader and surgeon I am today.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

I don’t know if it’s the most interesting, but a humbling realization I had when starting my practice is that there are no guarantees. I went from being a lieutenant colonel in the United States Army, where the future was safe and predictable, to living a life where I had to eat what I killed. In fact, I distinctly remember not being able to pay myself for almost an entire year. Navigating those kinds of obstacles required perseverance and diligence. Starting my practice was a bet on myself. I had to ask myself, “Do I trust that I have what it takes to see this victory at the end?” Spoiler alert: I did.

Because it is a “helping profession”, some healthcare providers struggle with the idea of “monetization.” How do you address the business aspect of running a medical practice? Can you share a story or example?

Well, if you’re starting a practice, nobody is willing to work for free. More importantly, nobody is willing to work for less than free. In the beginning, you must do it all. You must know everybody’s job and be very good at it, even if it means taking the time to learn something new. All the bets are on you because you’ve taken this leap of faith. As far as monetization, you’ve got to figure that out quickly or you will not be in business for long. One of the most simple economic perspectives that I can give anyone starting any practice or business is that figuring out gross profits should remain a motivating priority. As I said, this is not a not-for-profit business. I like to use the phrase, “It’s not what you make, it’s what you take.”

What most novice business owners or leaders forget to do is remember that the most valuable resource you have is time. You can always make more and do more, but you can’t create more time. From the start, your business should focus on working efficiently. To understand the value of the profit you make, you must divide that profit by the time it takes you to make it. It is not about spending indefinite hours in the office, but balancing that work grind with spending quality time with the ones you love.

Managing being a provider and a business owner is a constant balancing act. How do you manage both roles?

Managing being a provider and business owner is a challenging feat. It requires intentional balance, constant evaluation and internal awareness. If not, it can cause significant problems. I would argue that being a provider and business owner are not completely separate roles. Both require you to lead your team to success. Though that success may look different depending on the situation, ultimately, they are both rooted in the same values. As you continue to grow your practice, you get to do the things that only you can do — professionally and personally. In a perfect world, if all I did was the doctor stuff, that would be great. But starting out, I had to learn to serve in other roles until I curated and assembled my team. As both a provider and business owner, one of the biggest things that you have to do is provide a safe culture of leadership from conception.

From completing your degree to opening a practice and becoming a business owner, your path was most likely challenging. Can you share a story about one of your greatest struggles? Can you share what you did to overcome it?

As a leader, I better define “struggles” as the opportunity to manage blessings. Though I have had my own fair share of struggles in my lifetime, each one of them taught me its own lesson. Some have even produced blessings that continue to evolve over time. Each struggle I endured prepared me for the next season in life. Inevitably, there are going to be some struggles along your path to success. If it was easy, everybody would do it. My struggles have taught me the importance of knowing when to ask for help, and trusting in my own strength and training when times get tough. You must grow and harvest knowledge, put in the work, then repeat.

Ok, thank you. Here is the main question of our interview. What are the 5 things you need to know to create a thriving practice, and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

1) Make sure there is “peace” in your own house before you leave it. The best advice that I could give is what I learned as a 13-year-old going to New York Giants football games with my father and grandfather: Don’t marry anybody who can’t do anything for you. I found my somebody, with that something — my loving and supportive wife. Having a supportive life partner outside the workplace has helped me and my businesses thrive.

2) You need to make sure that you are constantly showing people a sermon versus telling them to serve. In other words, lead by example. You can’t leverage your authority; you need to leverage your influence. Because you have invested in leading from the front and creating the culture and expectation you have for your practice, the success of your business comes from intentional habits. Even at this stage in your medical career, you must bear that burden of visibility.

3) Don’t let your taste exceed your budget. You could have Cadillac tastes, but only a go-cart budget. To quote my mother-in-law: “Good, better, best.” In the beginning, you do as well as you can with what you have. Over time, you grow the business or practice, and you get better. You continue to graduate your support staff and your equipment, continually investing in yourself so that you could ultimately get the opportunity to do your best.

4) Be on time. Being on time means you’re early because if you’re not on time, then you’re late. Being on time is a huge deal, and that sets the tone as a leader in the culture you have created for your practice.

5) Be the CEO: Chief Encouraging Officer. Be it for yourself, your family and those you influence.

As a business owner you spend most of your time working IN your practice, seeing patients. When and how do you shift to working ON your practice? (Marketing, upgrading systems, growing your practice, etc.) How much time do you spend on the business elements?

In the beginning, especially before the doors opened, I spent almost all of my time thinking about the business side of things with regards to the success of my practice. The biggest question I would ask my team is, “How do we envision the client experience?” I spent many hours attempting to visualize the experience I wanted to give my patients. Personally, I like to brainstorm on a whiteboard. I start off with, “In a perfect world, I would…” and then I would finish the sentence accordingly. When you do this, you draw out the culture you envision for your practice. But it doesn’t stop there. You have to build on that culture constantly, walking in it from the way you practice medicine to how you greet your team members when they walk through the door. As you and your practice continue to grow, you have to learn to take your leadership skills to a new level, going beyond to ensure accountability and longevity.

I have been very blessed to have outstanding leaders who have been a part of my team. This meticulous choice of leadership is part of the reason my practice has continued to not only grow but leave lasting impacts on the community I serve. By developing a team that I can trust, I am offered more freedom in my practice inside of work and play outside of it. Once again, that most important denominator is time. What do we do with it, and how do we manage it? Believe it or not, your answer to that question is going to determine the success of your practice.

I understand that the healthcare industry has unique stresses and hazards that other industries don’t have. What specific practices would you recommend to other healthcare leaders to improve their physical or mental wellness? Can you share a story or example?

It is important to understand the stresses and sacrifices that come with choosing a life as a practicing physician. With this understanding, from as early as a medical student, it is important to make intentional decisions and choices on how you handle that inevitable heaviness because it does not go away. Taking time to understand healthy ways to navigate this heaviness and stress only leads to more success personally and professionally.

With regards to physical wellness, we are all doctors. We know what it takes to live a healthy lifestyle because we tell our patients all the time what to do and what not to do. However, sometimes we don’t take our own advice. Time is a valuable resource that sometimes may feel sparse in some seasons. However, we make time for what is a priority to us. Our physical and mental well-being must be one of those priorities. I always say that the best way to pour into other people’s cups is to make sure you fill yours.

I have filled my cup both mentally, physically, and spiritually throughout each stage of my medical career. During this stage, I love to play golf. Golfing is the only time I do not think about work. It is an intentional decision that I make to rest and recover. It is also another way for me to challenge myself. Nevertheless, throughout my career, family time is still the most valuable to me.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story about how that was relevant in your own life?


You have to live like you’re going to be victorious. You have to move before things happen. You have to believe in yourself more than anything else. Make the walk of faith. You have to do these things because nobody else is going to believe you more than you. If you don’t have faith in yourself, those you are leading will smell it like blood in the water. So, if you act like it’s going to happen, and if you put the work in like it’s going to happen, it’ll happen. It may not happen in your own time, but it’ll happen.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Website: https://www.fayplasticsurgery.com/

Instagram: @capefearaestheticsofcary

Twitter: @NCPlasticSurgeo

Facebook: @cfafacespa

LinkedIn: @cape-fear-aesthetics

YouTube: @ncfacespa

Thank you for these great insights! We wish you continued success and good health!

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