My name is TJ Ahn, and I currently reside in Chicago, IL. I currently own a busy podiatry practice, that I recently transitioned to concierge medicine. The main focuses of my new practice are sports medicine and minimally invasive foot surgery. Although I now see fewer patients, my revenue is increasing every year. Imagine how wonderful it would be to leave insurance companies behind, and still serve your patients with the best available treatment options.
My background is definitely atypical, and I would like to share with you how I got to 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, My mother especially always had high expectations of me. I am certain that she had my best interests in mind, but I always argued with her because I felt that she was trying to control every aspect of my life.
As a child, I was always curious about the world around me. I loved learning new things, including musical instruments, sports, and arts. I excelled in everything I studied. I was a natural leader, and always liked to take my friends to different places to explore. This got me into trouble many times, of course. It was exciting for me, but my friends’ parents were not happy with me. They felt that I was taking too many risks for my age and involving their children.
By the time I was a high school student, I decided that I would leave South Korea someday. I felt that I could not pursue my ambition to live fully there. There were too many rules and regulations controlling my life, and I wanted to explore the outside world. I dreamed every day of coming to the United States.
Fast forward to 1990. At the age of 20, I came to the United States alone. I purposely chose a school in Tennessee because I knew there were very few Koreans to associate with. I was totally in survivor mode, and I studied hard and played hard to learn about American culture. At the same time, I made many new friends from all over the world, and learned more about other countries. I finished a double major in Computer Science and Business in 1995 and completed another degree in Biochemistry in 1997.
Along the way, I fell in love with martial arts. I began training in Japanese martial arts, called “Aikido” in 1992. I traveled to Chicago several times a year because my Aikido Midwest headquarters was in Chicago. I even went to Japan to train hardcore Aikido in 1995.
I returned to Chicago in 1997 to study podiatric medicine at the Dr. William M. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine. I also started a new form of martial arts, Brazilian Ju-Jitsu, with Carlson Gracie Team. I trained with the team from 1999 until 2007. I loved training hard and competed in multiple tournaments.
I became a podiatric physician/surgeon in 2001, and started practicing in 2003. I continued to read and 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 the large scars that these surgeries left on patients. I thought, there’s got to be another approach to foot surgery. That's when I found 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.
If you have read to this point, you can probably figure out what I did. I was not going to sit down and complain about it, doing nothing. I could not wait 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 traveled 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 struck me 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 live more successfully and happily. I love to serve others.
All this time, I learned so many things, read so many books, traveled to many countries, had experienced ups and downs in 45 years of my life, and realized that I love to share what I know. Coaching is what I do best.
There are not many resources currently available supplying information about MIS. 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 filling the void. 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 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!