CSA President-Elect Paul Yost MD will assume his leadership role starting June 2014. He is a Past President of the medical staff at Children’s Hospital of Orange County and past mayor of the city of Seal Beach, a past board member of CalOptima, as well as founding board member of California’s newest conservancy, the San Gabriel and Lower Los Angeles Rivers and Mountains Conservancy, Director of Cardiac Services at St. Joseph Hospital, Co-Director of Pain Management at the Children’s Hospital of Orange County, and practicing physician anesthesiologist.
We questioned him on how he makes the time to be so involved, his most memorable accomplishment, his love for kiteboarding, and what he hopes to accomplish during his term as CSA President.
You’ve held a number of leadership roles, including Mayor of Seal Beach, how do you make time to be so involved?
Time is an interesting concept and difficult to define. However, it seems that the only time that I really have is the present moment. If a situation presents itself that is interesting and beneficial, I am likely to get fully involved. In terms of getting thing done within the present, I like what Lao Tzu said: "The journey of 10,000 miles starts with one step". I also like the saying: “If you want something done, give it to a busy person”.
On volunteerism, Winston Churchill said it well: “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give". Volunteerism and giving of oneself and one's profession is a very personal thing. I don't know why others volunteer, but it is a wonderful thing! For me it is best to not think about why I am giving, it is best to simply do and feel the act of service.
What was your favorite memory or most memorable accomplishment from any of these positions?
When I was a pediatric resident in Miami, I saw several deaths and severe injuries from jet skiers colliding with swimmers along the Rickenbacker Causeway going from Miami to Key Biscayne. Along with one of my fellow interns, we researched the issue, drafted a position paper recommending separating swimmers from jet skiers, and provided some sample legislation. We obtained the support of our program chair and found ourselves on the agenda in front of the Dade County Commission.
The two of us walked up to podium and thoughtfully presented our information and recommendations. After we took our seats, the lobbyist for the personal watercraft industry took the lectern. He mentioned the names of many of Miami's most notable celebrities and said, "Do you know what they have in common? They ALL have kids who jet ski!!"
Half way through his next sentence, the Chairman of the Commission put up his hand and said, "At what price a kid's life?" He silenced the well-dressed professional. The county attorney took the microphone and said, "We have been put on notice by our county children's hospital that we have a dangerous situation, and we have a holiday weekend coming up. If we have another injury, we are severely liable".
The Dade County Commission passed all of our recommendations on the spot!! Much to the dismay of the paid lobbyist who wanted to pick a fist fight with me in the lobby after the vote... It was amazing to feel that armed with the truth and rational alternatives. Positive change can happen!! You just have to take the first step. This was my first taste of politics.
How did you get into kiteboarding?
I started kiteboarding more than a decade ago. I have always been a waterman— I sailed more than 10,000 miles on the open ocean on small sailboats before I was 16 and had a driver's license.
I was an avid windsurfer and was on a windsurfing vacation on Maui when I saw kiteboarding for the first time. It was amazing!! I took a lesson, bought a kite and brought it home to Southern California.
The next several months were a bit rocky, as I was one of the first to bring kiteboarding to Southern California. It was trial and error with more than a couple of "kitemares" (when you and/or the kite get completely out of control). Since then, the kites, safety equipment, and, most of all, the kiteboarding schools have matured and made the sport much more accessible and safe.
Kiteboarding is one of the greatest joys that can be experienced. It is balancing your body weight against the wind and the ocean. It is a form of oneness and wonder that you can't experience in any shorebound way!!
Why get involved in the CSA?
There are several reasons but three items come to mind immediately. First, there are many threats and challenges we face as a profession, and we can’t successfully navigate them alone. We need to pool our resources and work together with one another and other professional organizations to keep our patients safe. Together we are stronger! Advocacy is incredibly important!
Second, as physician anesthesiologists, our specialty is always changing, and the best source for up-to-date information and education is from the CSA. When I started out in practice 22 years ago, sevoflurane and LMAs had not yet reached the private practice community. I learned about both of these essential components of my daily practice from the CSA!
Third, human beings are social creatures who like to work together toward a common goal. It is very rewarding to meet and work with like-minded professionals who share similar backgrounds and interests.
You are the CSA president-elect— what’s one thing you absolutely want to see happen during your term?
As president-elect of the CSA, I would like to listen to our members; really listen. I want to know how the CSA can make their lives easier, and their practices safer and more efficient. I want to know how to make the CSA their CSA.
I would especially like to hear from the residents and the youngest members of our specialty. The degree to which we can identify and respond to the changing needs of our members is the degree to which we will be successful. Our youngest members have the longest time left in the specialty, and they are closest to the knife-edge of change.
I hope that by listening to and learning from our members I can encourage others to engage politically with the CSA or other organizations in a manner that is as meaningful to them as it is to me.