Dr. Jamie Chia Lin Of Pacifica Health: “Learning doesn’t stop once you start practicing”

Learning doesn’t stop once you start practicing — you need to continuously grow your knowledge and tap into additional resources. The global health and wellness market is worth more than 1.5 trillion dollars. So many people are looking to improve their physical, mental, and emotional wellness. At the same time, so many people are needed to help […]

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Learning doesn’t stop once you start practicing — you need to continuously grow your knowledge and tap into additional resources.

The global health and wellness market is worth more than 1.5 trillion dollars. So many people are looking to improve their physical, mental, and emotional wellness. At the same time, so many people are needed to help provide these services. What does it take to create a highly successful career in the health and wellness industry?

In this interview series called “5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career In The Health and Wellness Industry” we are talking to health and wellness professionals who can share insights and stories from their experiences.

In this particular interview, we had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Dr. Jamie Chia Lin.

Dr. Jamie Chia Lin is an Obstetrics and Gynecology Specialist at Pacifica Health, a multi-specialty practice focused on primary care and women’s health services, located at CHA Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center (CHA HPMC). Dr. Lin has been in practice for over ten years and offers a full scope of women’s health services in the Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley area. Dr. Lin earned her degree in medicine at New York Medical College and did her residency at State University of New York in Long Island College Hospital. During her residency, she earned many awards including OB/Gyn Resident Excellence Award for her surgical skills in 2009.

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 grew up?

I was born in Taiwan and migrated to the U.S. at the age of 11. I grew up in a family of healthcare professionals — my great grandfather, grandfather, husband, younger and middle sister, and sister-in-law and her husband all belong to this field. My love for healthcare started early in my childhood. I grew up watching my grandfather, who is an orthopedic surgeon in Taiwan, following him around in his clinic. Day in, day out he dealt with patients with broken bones and I was amazed to see how every time he treated them, patients went from screaming in pain to feeling better within minutes. I was really impressed at how he could make people’s life better and this really motivated me to follow his footsteps. Back then, I thought I would become a general surgeon or orthopedic surgeon, but I developed an interest in women’s health and became an Obstetrics and Gynecology Specialist.

After graduating from the University of California, Irvine, where I was awarded the Regents Scholarship, I went on to earn my Doctor of Medicine (MD) from the New York Medical College in Valhalla, New York. After medical school, I completed my OB/GYN residency at Long Island College Hospital, where I served as Administrative Chief Resident and received the Junior Resident Excellence in Surgical Skill Award. After completing my residency, I started practicing from August 2011 and I joined Pacifica Health at CHA Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in June 2020, to offer a full scope of women’s health services. I have been practicing for over a decade.

Was there a particular person or event that inspired you to live a wellness-focused lifestyle? Can you tell us about your main motivation to go all in?

I was inspired by my family and my grandparents were my role-models. Living a healthy lifestyle is very important to everyone in my family. No matter how busy we are, my husband and I take time to regularly exercise and keep ourselves active throughout the day. My entire family is a member of the local YMCA and we participate in a variety of indoor and outdoor activities. In fact, healthy living runs in our blood — both my kids partake in swimming and gymnastics classes every week. We make it a point to eat home cooked food and don’t indulge in sweets or soft drinks. Living a well-balanced lifestyle is something that I learnt from my family and I am very happy that my kids, the next generation, also follow it.

Most people with a wellbeing centered lifestyle have a “go-to” activity, exercise, beverage, or food that is part of their routine. What is yours and can you tell us how it helps you?

We regularly go on hikes and nature trails as a family. I also do yoga every morning because it helps me stay focused, energized, and prepare for a busy day at work. In terms of healthy eating, we eat Taiwanese cuisine at home which mainly comprises of vegetables and well-rounded proteins. In the evenings, I try to spend a few minutes stretching and relaxing as its helps to decrease stress levels and refresh after a hectic day. Our family, as a whole, believes in the importance of healthy living. In fact, my son sees it as a goal and is focused on doing his best in any activity he enrolls in. He gets this quality from me and my husband.

To live a wellness-focused life is one thing, but how did it become your career? How did it all start?

My decision to join healthcare was largely driven by the teachings, values, and lessons instilled by my family. The strong desire to help somebody, heal them, and make their life better attracted me to healthcare. As an Ob-Gyn specialist, I have countless opportunities and the immense privilege to help women of all ages improve their health and well-being. It is a privilege that I do not take for granted. Pregnant women often ask me, “How can we ensure a healthy pregnancy”. I apply my life’s philosophy and help them practice healthy living — mentally and physically — which helps them in their pregnancy journey.

Can you share a story about the biggest challenges you faced when you were first starting? How did you resolve that? What are the main lessons or takeaways from that story?

When I first started practicing, my peers and patients often looked at me and said, “You look very young like a teenager. Do you know what you are doing? How many patients have you treated?” Keep in mind, just because a doctor appears “younger”, this is no indication of their expertise. In the beginning, I was very discouraged and disappointed with these remarks. But along the way, I learnt that effectively communicating with the patients, answering their questions and doubts, making them comfortable and knowledgeable about my expertise helped build trust. You mature as you grow in the profession. For me, it’s very important to establish a comfortable environment for the patients to discuss their problems with me. I get to know my patients well as most of my patients have chronic conditions and come to me year after year. I build strong relationship with them over time and ensure that they are comfortable to open up to me about their most intimate health concerns. By sharing my knowledge and counseling patients, I make them feel reassured that they are in safe hands under my care.

Can you share with us how the work you are doing is helping to make a bigger impact in the world? Can you share a story that illustrates that?

As an Ob-Gyn specialist, I am focused on providing primary care and women’s health services such as prenatal care, pregnancy testing, gynecological services, annual exams, cervical cancer screening, sexually transmitted disease (STD) testing, and pelvic pain management and treat patients age 11 and above. My care philosophy is to counsel the patients thoroughly so that they understand the situation and are able to make their health choices on their will instead of just following my advice. When I’m actually performing a type of treatment, they are not questioning or wondering if that was necessary. Often, women play a key role in caring for their family’s health and the ability to take care of a woman’s health helps me impact not just their life but even their families. This reminds me of one of my patients who I’ve been treating for the past eight years. She was anxious about undergoing a surgery to remove a tumor in her uterus and delayed it. The tumor caused her discomfort when she lied down. I counselled her about the need for treatment and its benefit for her and her family. She underwent the surgery under my care and now she is free to do all the activities she loves. After the surgery, she went on a holiday with her family. Her kids asked her why she delayed the surgery, as they missed spending wonderful family time together. My care impacts countless families and sheer appreciation from them shows that my work means something to the world.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

I am currently mentoring nursing students and residents to provide hands-on experience and prepare them for their careers in obstetrics and gynecology. I really believe that by having them shadow me, I am developing the next generation of nurses and helping them experience the real world.

You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

  • Perseverance: When I first came to the US, I couldn’t speak English. Throughout, my high school and junior high, I had to do a lot of catch up. While my classmates studied for one hour, I studied for five hours because I was catching up on English. Even when I was unsuccessful in class, I continued to practice and didn’t quit. I had the perseverance to build my path and who I am today. For me, every patient I encounter is a new experience and a new lesson to be learnt.
  • Optimism: Optimism helps improve my level of functioning, my patients’ satisfaction, and the results. Staying positive is very important to me because I can share that same positivity with my patients. In my practice, I deal with complicated or high-risk pregnancies. So, I build confidence in these moms-to-be and help them be optimistic throughout their pregnancy journey.
  • Resilience: When you fail at something, you learn from your mistakes and get better next time. Resilience helps me cope with the pressure, adapt to challenges, be committed to my goals, and have trust in my capabilities. With any type of surgery or treatment method, the more you gain experience the more knowledgeable you become. For instance, vaginal surgery was challenging for me during the initial days of my practice. But with experience, I have gained the confidence and now it is a walk in the park for me. Over the years, being resilient has helped me improve my practice, enhance quality of care, and offer better health outcomes for my patients.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Let’s begin with a basic definition of terms so that all of us are on the same page. Wellness is an incredibly broad topic. How would you define the term “Wellness”? Can you explain what you mean?

Wellness to me is practicing healthy habits on a daily basis to achieve my fullest potential — mentally, physically, socially, emotionally, and spiritually. My well-being matters because it directly affects my family, my practice, and my patients. When I say “I am well”, I am not just physically healthy but I am also mentally prepared to face challenges and to confront any problems. In short, wellness to me is holistic and I counsel my patients to help them adopt practices that ensure their overall health and well-being.

As an expert, this might be intuitive to you, but it will be instructive to expressly articulate this. Can you please share a few reasons with our readers about why focusing on our wellness should be a priority in our lives?

In today’s hectic world, it’s easy to prioritize work and put your health on the backburner. I feel strongly that everyone should prioritize their health and well-being to avoid any lifestyle-related diseases and conditions. I always tell pregnant moms, “If you live well, your baby will be well and you’ll have a healthy pregnancy without complications.” By avoiding smoking, women can reduce the risk of cervical cancer. Healthy diet, regular exercise, and good sleep should be a priority on a daily basis. By prioritizing wellness, you can avoid depression, burnout, and other chronic health conditions. Moreover, focusing on health and wellbeing helps you do well on both personal and professional fronts.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increasingly growing understanding of the necessity for companies to be mindful of the wellness of their employees. For the sake of inspiring others, can you share steps or initiatives that companies have taken to help improve or optimize their employees’ mental and physical wellness?

In the recent times, companies have started prioritizing the health and well-being of their employees as it directly affects the company’s goals, performance, and productivity. According to the World Health Organization, depression and anxiety have significant economic impact and result in 1 trillion dollars per year in lost productivity. On the other hand, every 1 dollar invested in treatment of mental health disorders results in a return of 4 dollars in improved health and productivity. So, it’s no surprise that companies are focused on creating a healthy workplace and promoting initiatives that help improve their workforce’s physical and mental wellness. Examples include:

  • Acupuncture sessions to treat stress, anxiety, and hormonal imbalance.
  • Yoga and rumba sessions to promote physical activity.
  • Wellness checks and Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for 1–1 counselling with certified mental health specialists.
  • Free subscriptions to wellness mobile applications.
  • Flexibility to work from home to improve productivity and reduce burnout.
  • Additional vacation/personal days to promote healthy work-life balance and ensure more personal time with family.
  • Fun incentives and challenges to promote fitness.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career In The Health and Wellness Industry”? If you can, please share a story or an example for each.

  • Continuous Education and Training: Healthcare is changing at a rapid pace with technologies and treatment methods constantly evolving. As doctors, it is important for us to stay up-to-date with what’s going on in the industry. Technology that is considered new or best practice today may change significantly within the next 5 to 10 years. So, continuous education and training is essential to be abreast of the latest developments to offer high quality care at par with industry standards. This trait is not just nice-to-have but a necessity to maintain competitive advantage, gain patient’s trust, and succeed. Learning doesn’t stop once you start practicing — you need to continuously grow your knowledge and tap into additional resources.
  • Collaboration with Peers: Collaboration and teamwork is very essential in the medical field, especially as we deal with increasingly complicated patient cases. This helps with knowledge sharing and ensuring that patients receive the best outcome. In healthcare, physicians are often competing with each other for patients but in my practice, I have seen that collaboration and teamwork helps achieve superior results, create new opportunities, and build a strong network.
  • Mentorship Opportunities: Mentorship is very essential to learning the ins and outs of the healthcare industry. It also helps strengthen the profession, develop highly qualified talent, and improve patient outcomes. As I coach the next generation of nursing professionals, I invest time in learning from budding professionals who may have less experience, but have great insights and knowledge about new medical technologies that I may be unaware of. So, teaching is also a way of learning something new.
  • Good Bedside Manners: It is important to build a strong rapport with the patients, actively listen to their concerns, answer their questions, and provide effective, compassionate care. Positive impression among patients is very important and can help improve patient outcomes. Often good bedside manner separates a great physician from good one. Physicians are recommended based on their bedside manner and this makes it an even more important trait.
  • Listening Skills: It is important to ensure that patients are comfortable to share their concerns and open up to you. I am an active listener and do my best to listen to my patients and understand them better, as it provides important clues for diagnosis. Listening to patients talk about their medical history is just as important as the physical exam and helps me learn more about their background.

Lastly, physicians also need to take care of their health and well-being to succeed in their practice. A physician is trained to help people get better, but he should also prioritize self-care to avoid burnout and other problems that impact delivery of care.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would promote the most wellness to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

One of the most common health issues these days is obesity. People are not conscious about what they are eating and are not following active lifestyle. I’ve seen growing incidence of obesity-led health issues such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) among women in the past two years and this is primarily driven by sedentary lifestyles owing to the pandemic. As a physician, and someone who greatly values healthy living, I’d like to encourage all companies and educational institutions to prioritize employee health and encourage outdoor activities on a weekly basis to get the workforce moving. Activities such as nature trails or hikes can not only get people exposed to exercise and nature, but also act as a great team-building activity. Companies can also get the families involved to make a larger impact and get more buy-in from their employees.

We are blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

I’d love to meet American gymnast Simone Biles who recently competed at the Tokyo Olympics. I really admire her strength and courage as she pulled out from the team and all-round finals to focus on her mental health. This sets her apart from other gymnasts. She is prioritizing her own health and wellness — something I strongly believe in.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Readers can learn more about me and follow my work on www.hollywoodpresbyterian.com.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!

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