AAMI News December 2019

Career Center: The Secret of Success? It's Enthusiasm

Paul KellyPaul Kelly, CBET, is the director of biomedical engineering, the Green Initiative, and asset redeployment at Washington Hospital in Freemont, CA; an AAMI Fellow; and a member of the AAMI Board of Directors.


What makes one person stand out from another equally well-qualified worker in our field? It’s passion. Anyone can go through the motions of their day-to-day job. Those who have that extra passion—that love for what they are doing—will do it better and be noticed. They are enthusiastic about what they are doing. To them, they don’t mind going above and beyond the minimum requirements.

Recently, I was watching the movie SlingShot, which is about the inventor Dean Kamen. While he has many famous, mostly medical inventions and is passionate about his career, success wasn’t easy for him.

On his way to invent the first syringe pump (for his brother’s medical school thesis) and the Segway, Kamen had to overcome dyslexia. Did he invent something for that? No, he had to read books multiple times, and slowly, to understand them. That takes passion.

If you look at the really successful people in your workplace or in the different health technology fields, you will see the people who have a passion for what they are doing. They don’t get handed titles and awards, they work hard for them.

I once saw a diagram that equated success with an iceberg. Above the water are the “glory” and the “awards.” But below the water are the things that people don’t see—sacrifice, persistence, failure, disappointment, hard work, dedication, discipline. That’s the proverbial blood, sweat, and tears.

The point here is that if you truly want to do something, you must work at it. It’s said that a master has failed 1,000 times before most people have even tried.

Have you ever had a waiter in a restaurant who did absolutely everything he was supposed to do? He came to your table, he took your order, etc. But you weren’t as happy with him as the one who did all the same things but also made eye contact, asked questions, was friendly, etc. Which waiter do you tip more? Similarly, your customers, coworkers, and managers can see when you are going through the motions and doing the absolute minimum required. Which employee gets recognized and promoted?

You have choices in life. I had a friend who was a nurse manager, old enough to retire, and still came to work passionate about what he was doing. He was diagnosed with cancer and kept working throughout his treatment and recovery. He did this with a smile, and the best, most positive attitude possible. I admire him for this.

So, find someone who is successful and emulate them. Maybe with practice you will soon be “the master” and if you aren’t already, be passionate about what you are doing.