My name is TJ Ahn, and I currently reside in Chicago, IL. I have pretty busy podiatry practice, and my practice is in transition to Concierge practice incorporating sports medicine and minimally invasive surgeries. Although I see less number of patients, my revenue is increasing every year. Can you imagine how nice it would be without dealing with insurance companies, but you can serve your patients with the best available treatment options?
My background is definitely not typical, and I would like to share with you how I got where I am today.
I was born in Seoul, South Korea, in 1970. My mother was a gynecologist, and my father owned several businesses in Korea. My parents were very strict with me when I grew up, and especially my mother always expected a lot out of me. It is probably her best intention to raise me that way, but I always argued with her because I felt that she tried to control everything about me.
Just to brag about me a little bit here, I guess I was gifted in multiple areas since childhood. I was always curious about the world, and simply loved to learn new things, including musical instruments, sports, and arts. I excelled in anything that I studied. I was a natural leader, and always liked to take my friends to different places to explore, and this got me in trouble many times, of course. It was exciting for me, but my friends’ parents were not happy because I was taking too many risks for my age in their eyes.
By the time I was a high school student, I made up my mind to leave South Korea someday because I felt that I co uldn’t pursue my ambition to live fully if I were there. There were too many rules, restrictions, and control at that time in South Korea, and I wanted to explore the outside world. I dreamed everyday of coming to the United States.
Fast forward to 1990: I came to USA by myself; I was just 20 years old. I purposely chose a school in the state of Tennessee because I knew ther
e were very few Koreans to hang out with. I was totally in survivor mode, and I studied hard and played hard to learn about American culture. At the same time, I met many friends fro m all over the world, and learned more about other countries. I finished my major in Computer Science / Business in 1995 and completed another degree in Biochemistry in 1997.
Along the way, I loved martial arts and trained Japanese martial arts, called “Aikido” since 1992. I travelled to Chicago a couple of times a year because my Aikido Midwest headquarters was in Chicago. I even went to Japan to train hardcore Aikido in 1995.
Then I came to Chicago in 1997 to study podiatric medicine at Dr. William M. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine. I also started a new form of martial arts, Brazilian Ju-Jitsu, with Carlson Gracie Team since 1999 until 2007. I loved training hard and competed in multiple tournaments.
I became a podiatric physician/surgeon in 2001, and started practicing since 2003. I continued to read, learn about everything that I encountered. I realized that this is a genetic trait that I was born with. I am a naturally curious person and just loved to learn.
After 10 years of practicing traditional open podiatric surgeries, I hit the wall. I started hating to see large scars on patient’s feet. I thought, there’s got to be another approaches to foot surgeries. Then I found about Minimally Invasive Foot Surgery, and I was so excited to learn these surgical techniques. However, there were not enough courses or teaching programs to satisfy my eagerness and drive to become proficient in MIS.
By now if you read about me so far, you know what I was going to do. I was not going to sit down and complain about it, doing nothing. I could not wait for another six months to go to an MIS seminar. I decided to dedicate myself to become proficient at it. I explained to my wife that it was very important for my career, and I had to learn this properly. I set my goals and planned my study. I travelled on more than 30 visits to seek and learn surgical techniques from my mentors, and spent lots of time and money to get the right training from senior MIS practitioners. I completed all of the requirements to gain fellow status by the Academy of Ambulatory Foot & Ankle Surgery in 2015. I have performed more than 225 Minimally Invasive Foot Surgical procedures as of this writing in March 2016.
In the last seminar I attended, something big struck my head during the cadaver lab session when I was teaching other surgeons about various procedures. I also had the honor to present a lecture about MIS there. I was very happy because I was sharing my knowledge and experience to other colleagues, and the emotional reward was nothing like I have felt before. This was my moment of epiphany. My calling is to coach others to help their career and life more successful and happier. I love to serve others.
All this time, I learned so many things, read so many books, traveled to many countries, had experience of ups and downs in 45 years of my life, and realized that I love to share what I know and to coach is what I do best.
There are not many resources to provide enough resources about MIS currently. The Academy of Ambulatory Foot & Ankle Surgery is, of course, an excellent association to belong to, but there are not many organized teaching programs or consulting company.
So here I am, and I created this website, solely dedicated to coaching and consulting with healthcare professionals. I hope you find the site valuable to learn more about MIS, practice management, and entrepreneurship. Please check out my blogs and sign up to be a member of my team. I will share tips and resources with you. I will post my lecture notes, pearls about MIS procedures, and various case studies.
I am very actively involved in the MIS world, and would love to get to know you if you have the drive and interest. I am so grateful that you read brief story about me. I am approachable and available. Let’s connect!
Life is short, live fully!