Author Archives: Mark

RealSelf Fellowship Assists Project Medishare’s Haiti Efforts

For 15 years, Dr. Seth Thaller and his team with Project Medishare have taken humanitarian medical trips to Port Au Prince, Haiti, every quarter. Some trips have been postponed due to social, political, or environmental factors, but whenever the barriers clear, the Miami-based doctor and his team are back helping the community.

Dr. Thaller’s team has treated hundreds of patients on these trips. Most need surgery for cleft lips, cleft palates, or significant burn injuries, patients with issues so severe that they struggle to adapt to regular society. Patients just like the 38-year-old woman Dr. Thaller treated on his most recent visit to Haiti. The woman suffered from a cleft lip. She complained of breathing issues and had trouble eating. She talked about the shame she felt from her facial appearance and how often she noticed people staring. A mother of two, the woman dealt with the issue her entire life.

Now, the woman never has to be ashamed again.

The woman was one of 22 patients Dr. Thaller’s team operated on during a recent trip to Port Au Prince. Although the trip was a familiar one for Dr. Thaller, there was a change this trip. This time Dr. Thaller traveled as a member of the inaugural class of the RealSelf Fellowship. The RealSelf Fellowship awards funding for medical professionals donating their time and expertise to deliver care and training in underserved communities around the world. Project Medishare is entirely self-funded and relies on programs like the RealSelf Fellowship to make these trips possible.

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. There is desperate need for improved medical care. Not only for reconstructive surgical care, but for even routine, basic healthcare. Patients travel from all over the country just for the chance to receive care from visiting doctors. The trips are not only vital to the patients who undergo operations, but also for training and improving the standard of care.

“We have definite plans to continue our enduring promise to our Haitian neighbors,” Dr. Thaller said in an interview with RealSelf.

The procedures Dr. Thaller and his team performed don’t just fix issues, they change lives. The conditions can be debilitating and fixing them can be a platform to return to society whether it’s a child returning to or starting school, or an adult getting back into the workforce.

To make a sustainable impact, the effort needs to go beyond performing a couple dozen surgeries once a quarter. That’s why education is such a focus of the trips. Dr. Thaller said his staff works with the local care providers to assist in pre- and post-operative care. They also work with local surgery residents.

“They were able to closely observe our surgeries, and we could teach them directly,” Dr. Thaller said.

“You will always get more from these trips then you are giving,” he said.

Learn more about the RealSelf Fellowship and how to apply here.

RealSelf Fellow Repairs Communities One Surgery at a Time

Dr. Andrew Wexler is no stranger to humanitarian medical trips just like this one. He has decades of experience and has performed hundreds of surgeries on people in need.

But it’s not often he encounters a patient with a case as challenging as Lydia’s.

Dr. Wexler met Lydia on his recent trip to Zimbabwe, as a RealSelf Fellow traveling with ReSurge International. It isn’t uncommon for him to meet teens like this 17-year-old. Many need surgery for cleft lips, cleft palates, or burn injuries. Lydia was in desperate need for something more. She needed significant facial surgery after suffering devastating injuries when she was run over by an ox cart.

Lydia suffered a panfacial fracture, which includes fractures in the upper, middle, and lower parts of her face. She needed significant and complex surgery.

Fortunately, Dr. Wexler and his team were there and able to help. His decades of experience proved pivotal as he was able to incorporate older technology and techniques to the surgery, even building a dental model, a skill not all facial plastic surgeons, even experienced ones, have.

“It was just a remarkable stroke of luck and fate for this girl that, 1) a team was there, and 2) that myself, a member of that team, just happened to be the right person at the right time for her injuries,” Dr. Wexler told RealSelf. 

Dr. Wexler and his team operated on Lydia for eight hours. The results are dramatic.

Photo courtesy: Dr. Andrew Wexler

Remarkably, Lydia was released from the hospital just a few days after her surgery.

In addition to Lydia, Dr. Wexler treated five other patients and spent a significant part of his trip training local medical professionals, focusing on using the equipment available in the local facilities. It forced Dr. Wexler and his team to adapt to what was available, but also to help train local providers on the equipment they use every day.

Dr. Wexler traveled to Zimbabwe as one of the Fellows in the inaugural group of the RealSelf Fellowship. The RealSelf Fellowship awards funding to medical professionals like Dr. Wexler who donate time and expertise to deliver care and training to underserved communities worldwide.

Photo courtesy: Dr. Andrew Wexler

Traveling and teaching is somewhat of a life’s work for Dr. Wexler. In 25 years worth of humanitarian medical trips, he’s visited more than a dozen countries and performed hundreds of operations.

“When you fix a child with a deformity you not only fix the child, but you fix a family,” Dr. Wexler said.

As part of every trip, Dr. Wexler says the educational component is key to leaving a true impact. “It is a little like throwing a rock into the water and watching the concentric circles move out from the center,” he said.

“My goal is to stand on the banks of the water and throw as many stones as I can with the distant hope that with each change of a child, a family, a community, in some little way I can make a difference in the world.”

Learn more about the RealSelf Fellowship and how to apply here.

RealSelf Joins Food Lifeline During National Volunteer Week

Every year, millions of pounds of food goes to waste in Seattle. We’re not talking about the avocado you forgot in the back of your fridge. We’re talking about good food from restaurants, grocery stores, manufacturers, and farmers.

Food Lifeline works to reduce that waste, rescuing more than 44 million pounds of food last year alone, and redirecting it to more than 275 food banks, shelters, and meal programs.

Sorting and repacking that much food requires a lot of help, and this week the RealSelf Local Giving team chipped in. After learning about the Food Lifeline operation and touring the facility, a few of our employees got to work sorting pears.

A lot of pears.

Additionally, as part of National Volunteer Week, it was perfect timing for the RealSelf team to support our community. Their efforts will go beyond Volunteer Week, and they are already planning philanthropic activities for summer and fall.

Food Lifeline has flexible and family-friendly volunteer hours. There are opportunities during the day and at night during the week and on the weekend. The robust operation is part of the reason why Food Lifeline is able to provide 90,000 meals every day, accounting for 30 percent of the meals served by food programs in Seattle.

If you’re interested in volunteering with Food Lifeline, you can register on their website.

Want to work for one of Seattle’s best companies? We’re hiring! Apply to join our team today.

#RealSelfLife: 21 Questions With Amber From Sales

If you met Amber for the first time, it might be hard to see her as anything other than a star member of the RealSelf sales team.

One of our most successful doctor advisors, Amber has had many roles at RealSelf, including digital marketing specialist in PR, and an audience-engagement specialist on our Community team.

We know that Amber is making the most of the opportunity to grow at RealSelf, but what do we really know about her?

Amber sat down with us for the first installment of 21 questions with your RealSelf co-workers. Let’s get to know her better.

What is your favorite snack in the office?
String cheese or beer

What was your favorite TV show growing up?
Dick Van Dyke

Where do you want to go on your next vacation?
Indonesia

Where is your favorite place to go for lunch in Pioneer Square?
Pho Fuchsia

If you could have one superpower, what would you choose?
Invisibility

Who are three people alive or dead you’d want to have dinner with?
Oprah, Beyoncé, and Chelsea Handler

iPhone or Android?
iPhone

Twitter or Instagram?
Instagram

What is one skill you wish you had?
Singing

When you were 5, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A lawyer

What is your favorite food?
Popcorn

What is one thing you’ve never done in Seattle that you want to do?
Scuba dive

What three things do you keep in your fridge or pantry at all times?
Cholula hot sauce, Parmesan cheese, and wine

What is your favorite holiday?
Halloween

What toppings do you like on your pizza?
Meat, garlic, and extra cheese

Do you pronounce GIF with a hard G or like GIF or a soft G like JIF?
GIF

Who is your favorite musician?
Prince

Is a hot dog a sandwich?
No, it’s more like a taco

What was your first job?
Selling Dish Network and DirecTV in a creepy call center

What is one thing in the world you think is underrated?
The cinematic film Madagascar

Which one of your co-workers would make the best president?
Kirsten Mann

Want to work for one of Seattle’s best companies? We’re hiring! Apply to join our team today.

RealSelf Fellow Raises the Level of Care in Nicaragua

The scene inside the hospital in Managua, Nicaragua, is a familiar one for Dr. Patrick Byrne. Dozens of young children need care for cleft lips, cleft palates, severe burns, and other issues. Some have traveled from other parts of the country–the second poorest in the Western Hemisphere–for a chance to receive care from visiting doctors.

A plastic surgeon in Baltimore, Dr. Byrne, started making humanitarian trips to Nicaragua in 2009. This time, there are a few familiar faces in the crowd. Three patients from a previous visit have returned. They aren’t seeking additional medical care. Instead, they came to thank the doctors who changed their lives.

Miguel is a young man who suffered severe burns. A lover of baseball, he was unable to play due to his injuries. That was until Miguel received a microvascular tissue transfer on his neck and chest to restore mobility and function. Now, Miguel is able to play baseball and hold down a steady job.

“It was just a smile and hug fest,” Dr. Byrne said in an interview with RealSelf.

Dr. Byrne has taken similar trips all over the world. In recent years, his efforts have been focused in Nicaragua. He is the co-director of the Greater Baltimore Cleft Lip and Palate team. His team has partnered with Aproquen to provide care to those in need and establish a standard of care comparable to what patients receive in the United States.

“It’s unbelievable how sophisticated our effort is now,” he said.

Photo courtesy: Dr. Patrick Byrne

In addition to performing cleft lip and palate surgeries, Dr. Byrne’s team has added dental care, nutrition, orthodontic care, speech therapy, and other services. 

It’s no longer a situation where visiting doctors parachute in and perform as many surgeries as possible. Dr. Byrne and his team are establishing guidelines, training local providers, and using technology to help provide aftercare. That includes a telemedicine program for speech therapy.

Dr. Byrne said the current operation is a “night and day” difference from when he first started visiting Nicaragua. Back then, he would see many poor outcomes from previous surgeries. Patients didn’t receive the full care they needed. Basic medical records were limited or nonexistent. 

“You see a kid who was operated on by some other team at some other time, and they look pretty bad,” Dr. Byrne said. “There are no op notes, no record, you have no idea who did what when. Now it’s pretty close to the type of clinic you’d see in the United States.”

Recent efforts have improved the sustainability of care. Dr. Byrne’s team trained a local physical therapist who has become better at cleft speech therapy than many speech therapists in the United States who rarely perform cleft therapy. The advances in speech therapy, complication rate, and overall success have been staggering.

On his most recent trip to Nicaragua in February, Dr. Byrne traveled as a RealSelf Fellow. The RealSelf Fellowship awards funding to medical professionals who donate time and expertise to deliver care and training in underserved communities around the world.

“The gift is really meaningful,” he said. “That goes a long way on a trip like this.”

Photo courtesy: Dr. Patrick Byrne

On this trip, Dr. Byrne operated on about 20 new patients, but the work is hardly complete. He and his team are still busy trying to elevate the standard of care and help establish a sustainable system by working with local hospitals to collect data, using technology to reduce the gap in care, and training local providers.

They are also planning to visit Nicaragua two times per year, up from one.

“Since we’ve been involved and developed all of these programs, word has gotten out,” Dr. Byrne said. “Families and doctors from all over Nicaragua send their kids to the group.

“It’s great, but we need to keep up with the demand.”

Learn more about the RealSelf Fellowship and how to apply here.

RealSelf Joins Downtown Seattle Spring Cleanup

Seattle’s downtown neighborhood Pioneer Square has a fresh look thanks in part to the RealSelf local giving team.

Photo credit: Kari Quaas

RealSelf team members, along with a few of their family members and friends, participated in the 2017 Pioneer Square Spring Clean on April 8. Over 100 volunteers, many from other companies in the area, participated.

The group spent a Saturday morning cleaning and restoring the neighborhood. They picked up bottles, broken glass, and other trash. They also cleaned the sidewalk and put down fresh bark in the flower beds.

Photo credit: Sarah Williams

The Alliance for Pioneer Square hosts the the Pioneer Square Spring Clean every year. This is the first time RealSelf participated, as we wanted to make an impact on the area we work in every day.

Later this month, RealSelf’s local giving team will be back in action during National Volunteer Week by helping prepare groceries for the Food Lifeline Hunger Solution Center.

We’re hiring! To learn more about life at RealSelf, apply today.

Hundreds Attend Free Self-Defense Class Hosted By RealSelf

In early March, RealSelf doctor advisor Kelly Herron was attacked by a known sex offender when she stopped during a run to use the bathroom at Golden Gardens, a popular park in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood. Kelly fought back using training she learned at a self-defense course RealSelf had hosted just weeks before.

On Tuesday, RealSelf offered the same Fighting Chance Seattle self-defense class to the public for free.

Hundreds showed up to take part.

https://twitter.com/JenniferCsays/status/846764349981044736

https://twitter.com/ColleenKIROFM/status/846748542777507840

Participants learned to identify red flags, avoid dangerous situations, and unlock their most powerful selves. Fighting Chance Seattle instructor Jordan Giarratano taught the class, who was also the instructor for the first class hosted at RealSelf.

“Making it free removed a barrier, sad but true, that discouraged me from attending such a class in the past,” one attendee said. “Thank you for eliminating that excuse and for investing in us!”

Announcing the 5 RealSelf Fellowship Recipients for 2017

In October, we unveiled the first class of RealSelf Fellows to support reconstructive surgery efforts around the world. Now, we’re thrilled to announce the five 2017 RealSelf Fellowship recipients who will receive financial support to help fund life-changing humanitarian trips to underserved communities around the world.

The RealSelf Fellows deliver medical care and training in areas where surgical care was previously difficult to access. They work to make a meaningful impact that improves the quality of life and furthers the RealSelf mission of bringing confidence to people worldwide.

“We feel fortunate to be able to support medical humanitarians who are donating their time to better the lives of people across the globe,” said RealSelf Founder and CEO, Tom Seery. “From oculoplastic surgery training in Haiti, to advanced burn treatment training in Mozambique, to plastic and reconstructive surgery training in Tanzania and Mexico, this group of Fellows will have a lasting impact on the communities they visit, with their teachings continuing to give back long after their trips have ended.”

Here are the 2017 RealSelf Fellowship recipients (ordered by trip departure):

  • Dr. John F. Nigriny, Lebanon N.H., plastic surgeon traveling to Mozambique with ReSurge International on April 22, 2017.
  • Dr. Matthew Hansen, Perth, Australia, plastic surgeon traveling to Tanzania with Rafiki on May 12, 2017.
  • Dr. Jed H. Horowitz, Newport Beach, Calif., plastic surgeon traveling to Mexico with Plasticos Foundation on June 22, 2017.
  • Dr. Matheson A. Harris, Salt Lake City, oculoplastic surgeon traveling to Haiti with Charity Vision and LDS Charities on Aug. 27, 2017.
  • Dr. Oumar Coulibaly, Mali, physician traveling to Nepal with ReSurge International on Nov. 15, 2016.

The impact of these trips will be significant and long-lasting. The fellows will perform reconstructive surgeries, free of charge, for those who have suffered traumatic injuries or were born with correctable deformities. They will also pass along some of their expertise, and help create sustainable solutions, by providing training to local surgeons.

In addition to the five Fellow winners, more than 20 other applicants will also receive recognition. RealSelf will donate $250 to the nonprofit those applicants are working with, while Seery will make a matching $250 donation.

The RealSelf Fellowship is open to physicians and surgical care team members who volunteer their medical services or serve as volunteer educators to advance the skills of local doctors and staff in a range of medical needs.

RealSelf evaluates applications annually. The 2018 application deadline is Dec. 1, 2017. Award recipients will be notified Jan. 15, 2018. To learn more about the fellowship or apply online visit www.realself.com/giving/fellowship.

RealSelf kicks off book program with ‘The Upstarts’ about the new rules of Silicon Valley

What are the new rules when it comes to being successful in tech? This week, RealSelf staffers got a firsthand look with our new reading program RealSelf Reads and Brad Stone, author of the new book The Upstarts

As a veteran journalist covering Silicon Valley for Bloomberg news, Stone visited RealSelf to talk about his latest book and participated in a wide-ranging conversation about Airbnb and Uber, and how these groundbreaking companies are rewriting the rules of tech. He covered topics ranging from how to build a brand, to flying cars, and other emerging technologies.

Stone specifically talked about how both companies are ushering in a new era and redefining the way millions of people travel. He pointed out that neither Airbnb or Uber were the first to explore their markets — they just did it better than their predecessors. Both companies achieved success by finding and connecting with large audiences with needs and providing the best experiences to satisfy those needs.

“When you create an alternative that people love, and present them with new economic options where the options are very constrained, they’ll flock to your brand,” he said.

Why talk about Airbnb and Uber? As recent upstarts that have gone global, there are a few ways RealSelf can benefit from their playbooks.

Stone stressed the importance of building trust with your audience to succeed, adding that companies need to embrace that responsibility and “walk in their customers’ shoes” to understand what they really want.

As for flying cars? Stone had some good news for everyone commuting into the office.

“Everyone from West Seattle will be flying into work pretty soon.”

We’re hiring! Look over our career ops and apply today.

RealSelf ranked No. 29 for top company culture by ‘Entrepreneur’

The workplace accolades keep coming. Entrepreneur magazine ranked RealSelf No. 29 on a list of large companies exhibiting the qualities of top company culture.

‘Entrepreneur’ March issue

Partnering with Culture IQ, software that helps improve company culture, Entrepreneur features The 2017 Top Company Cultures list, a comprehensive ranking of 153 U.S.-based businesses exhibiting high-performance cultures. Companies earned a place on the list based on 10 areas that predict top cultures: agility, collaboration, innovation, communication, support, wellness, work environment, responsibility, performance, and mission alignment.

“A high-performance culture leads not only to employee engagement, but also to measurable business results,” says Greg Besner, founder and CEO of CultureIQ. “These organizations show us that great companies start with great culture.”

RealSelf was ranked among 50 large companies with at least 100 employees. Small companies of 25-49 employees and medium companies with 50-99 employees were also ranked. The rankings were determined by employee surveys measuring the aforementioned 10 core components.

Creating and maintaining a strong company culture has been a priority at RealSelf since the company was founded. CEO Tom Seery said the company has worked to establish a culture where employees can be themselves, and work in an environment that makes them want to come back every day.

This is the third honor we’ve received for company culture in recent months. RealSelf was ranked No. 5 on Seattle Business Magazine’s Top Midsize Companies list. It was ranked No. 17 on Glassdoor’s 2017 Employees’ Choice Best Place to Work list.

Want to join one of Seattle’s best companies? We’re hiring!