The Dialogue with Eric Weatherbee
This feature is a question-and-answer session with a new Blount County Chamber member. So here we go with our 79th installment visiting with Eric Weatherbee, CEO/Administrator at Foothills ENT Allergy and Hearing Center which has been providing excellent specialists in ear, nose, and throat for over 25 years. It's a group that is progressive-thinking while keeping the focus on how to make a difference locally.
Describe what an ENT does. The treatment and prevention of ear, nose, and throat related ailments. Allergy treatment and testing. Hearing aid sales and servicing.
How did you get started? I was raised in a household that was very medical-oriented, and found familiarity and comfort in working in a similar environment. I was afforded the opportunity in college to do an internship where I discovered the opportunities available on the operational/financial/business side.
What is your background? Healthcare is a tricky beast, one of the most heavily regulated industries. Many of the skills necessary come from working in healthcare. You learn as you go. Good training, from clinical coursework to business classes, goes a long way as well. There are very few colleges that cater to medical practice/healthcare administration, but I found that by applying general business topics to my interest in healthcare that I was able to prepare myself fairly well.
Who is your mentor? My biggest supporters have been my family. My parents and wife have been there to celebrate successes and comfort during failures. Prayerful efforts to find the right fit, coupled with their support, have been driving factors in my pursuit of an opportunity like this.
What impacts your business environment? The external pressures on healthcare are tremendous. Regulation, reimbursement, and cost pressures make every day a challenge to innovate and do things that make the patient experience better. We also struggle to get the word out, that a high-level of ENT care is available right in our backyard.
Name three things you wish you knew when you started. 1- Be humble. Recognize that God is in control and we are simply executing the masterful plan that He has created for us. 2- Never underestimate local business connections. It's vitally important for employees to be at work, and we need to be connecting with local industry to ensure their employees are receiving high-quality care and quicker return to work rates. 3- Know your audience. Being able to communicate effectively and lead a multi-generational workforce takes patience, planning, and perseverance.
What do you enjoy about your position? Every day presents new challenges. If you aren't willing to adapt and change, you won't be in business long. People come to us looking for help to feel better, and that's a big responsibility.