'If you're always the smartest person in the room, you haven't hired very well': Advice from ASC admin

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Michael Dodd, administrator of Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based First Choice Surgery Center, didn't take the most straightforward path to his current position, he said on "Becker's Ambulatory Surgery Centers Podcast." But rather than being a hindrance, it made him a better leader.

This is an edited transcript. Download the full podcast episode here.

Question: Could you tell us a little bit more about yourself and your background?

Michael Dodd: My background is fairly odd. ... I went to nursing school right out of high school because I had several surgeries after a farm accident, cut some fingers. And in one place that I had surgery, I had an awful nurse. The next place I had surgery, I had an awesome nurse. That kind of influenced me like, yeah, maybe I want to be one of those good nurses. 

I didn't finish nursing school; I dropped out in my last semester. I've caught flack about that from everybody I've ever run into in medicine over 30 years. So I decided to join the Air Force. They had a surgical tech program, and so that's what I completed. And I've done that for three-plus decades, and various jobs lumped into that. I've been an operating room manager, an administrator, cleaning floors, and everything in between. I never turned down anything because I wanted to know everything I could. Those are the people that get kept on if things get tight and get promoted if there is opportunity. So that's kind of what I shot for. 

Q: What's the best advice you have for someone who's just starting off and trying to get into healthcare leadership?

MD: Again, I never turned down any jobs because my parents were like, there's no small job, just small people — that old adage. … I've found that you can learn something from everyone, good or bad. You either learn what to do, or you definitely don't want to do what X person did. You don't want to be that guy. And the other [lesson] I got when I was still in the Air Force, when I was going through the noncommissioned officer academy: If you're always the smartest person in the room, then you have not hired very well. I've kind of taken that to heart, and I try to incorporate stuff from people smarter than me because you can only help yourself [by doing that].

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