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“Why we need desperately insurance reform in this country”, with Dr. Elliot Hirsch and Phil Laboon

I think there needs to be insurance reform in this country. Insurance companies are out of control and they need to be reigned in because they are not in business to help people. My staff and I spend so much time trying to get surgeries covered for our patients when their policies are supposed to […]


I think there needs to be insurance reform in this country. Insurance companies are out of control and they need to be reigned in because they are not in business to help people. My staff and I spend so much time trying to get surgeries covered for our patients when their policies are supposed to cover them. It is wasted time fighting with insurance companies that could otherwise we spent actually helping people.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Elliot Hirsch, Board Certified Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon, practicing in Los Angeles.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what events have drawn you to this specific career path

Well my mom insists I was sitting in a high chair at two-years-old saying I wanted to be a doctor. But as far back as I can remember, I knew I wanted to be a surgeon. When I was in high school in Agoura, CA, I was lucky enough to have a cadaver lab and I was fascinated by the dissections. From that point on, I knew I was going to do whatever it took to become a surgeon.

Can you share your story of Grit and Success? First can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?

Saying you want to be a plastic surgeon and becoming one are two different things. It is a long road- you are in training longer than you are in grade school! I spent four years of college at Johns Hopkins University in my dorm room studying when my friends were out having fun, and I spent my summers studying for the MCAT. Once I started medical school at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, any time not spent in class or studying was dedicated to working with established plastic surgeons so I could help them write papers, or shadow them during surgery. I was accepted to Northwestern University’s seven-year plastic and reconstructive surgery residency, which is one of the best in the country, and I convinced my fiancé to move with me to Chicago for seven long, cold years away from all of our friends and family. We got married weeks before residency started and spent our “honeymoon” painting our new apartment and trying to get her a job.

Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

I had a few mantras I told myself when the 80-plus hour weeks and stress of residency got me down. “You can’t stop the clock” is a favorite, as well as “the days are long but the years are short”. I am lucky enough to have a supportive wife and family who encouraged me to push forward all seven years. We all knew my goal of being a plastic and reconstructive surgeon meant making significant sacrifice.

So how did Grit lead to your eventual success? How did Grit turn things around?

Towards the end of my residency it was time to decide what I was going to do for my career. I decided I really wanted to establish my own private practice in Los Angeles, and I was lucky that my wife had years of experience in Human Resources to come on board as my Office Manager. We moved back to Los Angeles when I graduated, and I worked hard establishing relationships with other doctors and surgeons in the area to increase referrals.

So, how are things going today? 🙂

Things are going great! I have a thriving plastic and reconstructive surgery practice in Sherman Oaks, and I have a growing staff of wonderful, hard working people. We have a medi spa with services provided by a talented medical aesthetician and Physician Assistant. I’ve established myself as one of the most skilled breast surgeons in the community, and have great relationships with my patients.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped you when things were tough? Can you share a story about that?

There are several other small business owners in my family, and having them as a sounding board and support has been very helpful. They helped me get the best resources to set myself up for success. Having my wife help me through this whole process has been greatly beneficial. She is always available to talk through a situation and gives great advice. She has a Masters in Organizational Social Work, and she grew up in a family who ran a small business. She has always worked in Human Resources in the healthcare field, so she was qualified to be my office manager. I couldn’t have started my own private practice without all the advice and help from my family!

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

The main way I help people is obviously through the surgeries I perform. Many of the patients who come to me need breast reconstruction after breast cancer, or need a breast reduction that can dramatically decrease their back and neck pain and help them get into a better exercise routine. I help transgender patients look more like how they feel on the inside. For all of my cosmetic patients, I am helping them change things about their bodies so that they are more self confident.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

For the past ten years, I have been working actively to commercialize a patented wound care device. If we are successful, it has potential to help many people.

What advice would you give to other executives or founders to help their employees to thrive?

Find what motivates your employees, encourage growth, and give constant feedback and communication. You have to trust your people to do their jobs. Hire the right people for the right positions and don’t try to force them into the wrong roles for their skill levels or abilities.

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

I think there needs to be insurance reform in this country. Insurance companies are out of control and they need to be reigned in because they are not in business to help people. My staff and I spend so much time trying to get surgeries covered for our patients when their policies are supposed to cover them. It is wasted time fighting with insurance companies that could otherwise we spent actually helping people.

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

“Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.” That is a quote from the late John Wooden, the former UCLA men’s basketball coach. This is important because we always try to do the right thing for our patients and help them achieve their goals, even if it means it is a long road to get there.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

They can find us on Instagram (hirschplasticsurgery) and Facebook (Elliot M. Hirsch, MD) and our website www.hirschplasticsurgery.com

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

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