Recently, I was asked to make the opening remarks at the Michigan Urology Surgical Collaborative (MUSIC) quarterly meeting in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The purpose of the collaborative, for those who are not familiar, is to create a community where urologists, from across the State, can work together to make Michigan “the best place in the world for men to receive prostate cancer care.”
I felt very honored to have this opportunity. As I started thinking about the remarks I might make, I reached out to Dr. Montie for a little advice. Dr. Montie, in addition to being Co-Program Director of MUSIC, was recently given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Urological Association. Turns out, he also happens to be an accomplished rower.
Dr. Montie’s advice was simple, “Keep it short and sweet.” He left it up to me to bring the treats …
Using Honey and Chocolate as a Metaphor
Many urologists, like Dr. Montie, have hobbies and interests outside of medicine. For example, in addition to being a practicing urologist, I am also a beekeeper. Recently, I sat down with my friends Patty, Paul, and Kylie at Patricia’s Chocolate in Grand Haven, Michigan. The purpose of our meeting was to try to create a unique, honey infused chocolate to help raise money for Step Up, a non-profit organization in Muskegon, Michigan.
As we were researching and developing our final product, we sampled numerous varieties and flavors of honey. Each of these varieties was truly unique and each flavor was truly amazing.
Choosing to Stay Local
During the tasting process, I have to admit, I was a bit self-conscious. Being a relatively small producer of honey, I was concerned my fellow tasters might not like the honey my bees produced as much as some of the others. These fears turned out to be totally unfounded because all of the honey we sampled tasted great. In the end, we thought it would be best to use local honey, from my bees, in the chocolates.
How do these experiences with honey and chocolate relate to the MUSIC Collaborative? Well, recently I had the opportunity to review video segments of robotic assisted radical prostatectomy procedures (RARP) preformed by more than 15 urologists from across the State of Michigan.
“This initiative is not about picking winners and losers,” Dr. (James) Peabody said. “We want to raise the bar of RARP for everyone. We think that is an exciting possibility, and we are fortunate that urologists in Michigan have been forward thinking and supported this project.”
– Urology Times
Watching these videos, I saw significant variations in surgical experience and technique. Despite these variations in experience and technique, the robotic skills demonstrated by each of the individual surgeons in these videos were really quite good.
Getting Better by Collectively Working Together
What’s the take home message? What I have learned over the years is – be it in the clinic, operating room, kitchen or bee yard – working together is just plain fun. Collaboration allows us to continuously cross-pollinate and create something truly special and sweet, for our respective communities, and for our individual patients.
A Special Thanks to MUSIC
Thanks to the generosity of the MUSIC team, we were able to share a piece of “Dr. Stork’s Happy Hive Honey Chocolate” with each of the participants at the meeting. Proceeds from the sale of these chocolates go to Step Up, a program that helps young women in Muskegon as they transition out of foster care and into adulthood.
If you would like to order some of these chocolates for yourself, you can do so by giving Patty a call at the store, 616-842-5999, or by sending her an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.