My wife Cathy had shoulder replacement surgery in November. She has a brand new Tornier shoulder, courtesy of Dr. Leslie Vidal at Rose Medical Center in Denver.

There is some irony here: I played rugby for over 30 years and still have all of my original equipment, and she is the one with a replacement part. Cathy’s 36 years as a flight attendant probably had a lot to do with her condition. Hoisting bags into overhead bins and fighting gravity to pull heavy carts up airplane aisles will take a toll.

The surgery was nothing short of miraculous. Forty-eight hours after she left the operating room, she was able to take a shower, get dressed (with a little help from me), and walk out of the hospital. She worked hard at her rehab and was able to regain range of motion in her shoulder a lot faster than I expected. She went very quickly from having simple things like blow-drying her hair bring tears to her eyes, to being relatively pain-free.

Cathy’s experience got me thinking about the important work people in the pharma and medical device industries do every day. You bring to market products that not only save lives but also enhance the quality of life for millions of people. I was amazed at all of the products that were involved in Cathy’s surgery and recovery.

Obviously, there is the shiny new Tornier titanium shoulder. But there was also the anxiety medication she received upon arriving at the hospital, the anesthetic, the instruments, the sutures and disposables used during the procedure.

Once Cathy got to her room, there was the oral and injectable pain medication, the pain bag that injected medication directly into the area of her wound on a set schedule, and the equipment used to monitor her condition, along with a host of disposables.

I sat there thinking, “All of this for just one person in one hospital. Just think about the millions of people who are being treated right now.”

It’s fashionable to complain about the high cost of health care in the USA. However, once you see the health care system in action, you’re likely to realize just how amazing it is.

And that’s where you come in. Every day the work you do helps save lives and increases the quality of people’s lives. I bet more than one of you reading this column had something to do with one of the products used in Cathy’s surgery or her recovery.

Leadership experts agree that it’s important for a company to do more than just make money. They suggest that companies engage the people who work for them by helping them see the importance of the work they do. There is no more important work than saving and improving the quality of millions of lives.

I see this every time I visit one of my pharma or device clients. There is always a Mission Statement displayed prominently. They’re all different—and all the same. They all focus on science, health, and the well-being of people around the world.

Be proud of what you do, because it’s important work. I’m proud to be associated with the pharma and medical device industries. My consulting and coaching clients really care about what they do. My colleagues at PM360 are committed to helping health care marketers be the best they can be.

This holiday season take a few minutes to reflect on all the good you do in the world. Begin 2012 with a renewed sense of energy as you go about the work of making the world a better place. The patients who use and benefit from your products appreciate you. Cathy and I certainly appreciate you. Without high tech medical devices and medication she would have endured debilitating pain. Thanks to you and your products, she is pain-free and back to living a more active, healthy lifestyle.

  • Bud Bilanich

    Bud Bilanich, The Common Sense Guy, is a success coach, motivational speaker, author and blogger. He is a faculty member at the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver where he teaches courses in Organizational Dynamics and Human Capital Management. Bud has written five books on career and life success, which are the basis of his Common Sense Success System.

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