Mother’s Day Gift Giving Tips

With Mother’s Day around the corner, I thought I would share my gift giving tips.

Let’s start with the ground rules:

  • You are NOT buying for yourself (This is perhaps the most common mistake). Just because you love something, doesn’t mean the other person is going to.  For example, my mom and I have an allergy to fragrances, and so when buying for my mom I avoid anything scented.
  • ALWAYS give a gift receipt. You are setting you both up for failure if you don’t. Let’s be honest, how many times have you tried on something in your normal size from one of your favorite stores, to find that you need to go up or down a size.  Don’t make the person have to ask or explain.

Now it is time to get down to picking a gift.  Don’t forget to check my Pinterest site for more ideas.

  • Just because you love a store, doesn’t mean the other person does.  Or it doesn’t mean one size fits all or one style fits all. If someone has told you they don’t like a certain store, then don’t shop there.  This goes along with #1.  You aren’t buying for you.  You probably asked them about something they have worn or used in their home, go to that store.
  • If you are unsure of size, then pick something where size doesn’t matter. A beautiful ruana or scarf is a nice treat.  A nice billfold or bag for their purse is another great treat.  It is almost beach season, so a cute beach bag with a new beach towel could be a nice surprise.
  • Don’t be afraid of gift cards. If you want it to feel more personal, make it for having photos printed or for some pampering at a spa.  Something they wouldn’t treat themselves to normally.
  • Time is a great gift. Because I live out-of-town, my mom and I don’t get nearly enough time together.  Setting up a time for lunch and catching up can be an even better gift than a new sweater.
  • The best gift is always making sure the person knows how much you appreciate them. Take time to pick out a great card and make sure and put a note in addition to your signature.
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Physician Practices: Giving Your Physicians Enough Time

I have been in healthcare almost twenty years and we still struggle to give physicians enough time and it is because we are unable to think outside the box.  When I go to the hair salon, I don’t wait more than 5 minutes past my appointment time as a standard.  They recognize that I am paying for their time and my time matters.  However, the difference is that they give themselves enough time for the person in front of them.  Here are some tips for accomplishing this:

  1. Some patients just take longer – Use your fancy EMR and put scheduling notes on the patient – this may be a patient flag. Then make sure your physician uses time based E/M billing to get paid for that longer appointment.  Or make sure they are adding billable events like preventive counseling codes to the visit.
  2. Salons bring in a stylist in training to help their busy stylist – in that case the low-level stylist gets things ready like mixing color, washing hair, etc….  Technology is really helping us to have this same opportunity there are med students who provide scribing via the web for physicians directly into your EMR to reduce the time providers are spending documenting.  We also have the ability to hire a mid-level that is willing to take care of the other things like med refills and patient phone calls to allow the provider to just see the patients in front of them.
  3. Have different schedules, some physicians are just more chatty than others and instead of beating them up – give them more time, and make sure they are billing appropriately. You don’t want a doctor billing a level 1 that spent an hour with the patient.
  4. As you are building this schedule, think through your visits and eliminating some demand. For example, maybe some visits (like UTI and Strep) – could be nurse visits.  The practice still gets some revenue, but it frees up capacity for your providers to have longer appointments.  Web Visits are another great option for things that don’t require you actually putting your hands on the patient.  It allows you to have a shorter visit that you can fit in between a longer visit.
  5. Don’t forget to set expectations with patients, for example that your provider only has time to discuss these 3 things today but we will get you scheduled to discuss the other 5 things next week.
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Ask Southern: Keeping It Real

Dear SSS,

Does your evening system with your husband ever not work?  Or does it always go like clockwork?


Keeping It Real


Keeping It Real,

Thank you for thinking it might go like clockwork. It doesn’t … we are humans and life happens and the thing we do really well (98% of the time) is we roll with it.  The division of nights is more to give the other one a pass to just be for a few minutes by themselves.  However, this week is a great example of the realness of our lives.  Monday our 2 year-old who is potty-training had a potty event right before bath that required both of us to tag team and even though it was just my night, Mr. Style pitched in.  On Wednesday, Mr. Style and I were both late getting home and we had to eat dinner late which pushed back bath time and we both tag-teamed, because we were scrambling.  Thursday night, Mr. Style had a work related phone call at bath time, so I got them started.  The message of our routine, really is that of communication and an understanding that we both need a few minutes of time for ourselves in our chaotic week.  We are a team.

The other message is that we choose a positive attitude.  We make a point to say, “Thank You,” to show our appreciation for the other one.  And each non-clockwork event is an “opportunity” vs. a “problem”.  When we find ourselves feeling negative about the opportunities of being busy working parents, we focus on the two beautiful children we prayed so hard to have.



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Leap Day Tips for Leaping Up or Leaping Out of Your Job Rut

Recently, I have had several conversations with friends and peers about being unhappy in their job and wanting more or something different.  And many times we just don’t know how to go after the something more or different.  So here are my tips for getting out of your work rut or taking advantage of where you are right now.

  1. Do you have all the skills the job you want requires? I am not asking if you can do the job. I am asking can you check off all the applicant requirements as well as the desired qualifications of the job description?
    1. There is a job that gets posted periodically with a really great company that I would like to be a part of, but it has a desired list of certifications that I only have one of. So, I have started tackling them. I am currently working on the most expensive one and it is what I asked Mr. Style to pay for as my Valentine and Birthday gift instead of flowers and new shoes.  Even if this job doesn’t come available, again, I am positioning myself for a similar job with a similar company.  Your current job may even reimburse you for this certification.
    2. Maybe the experience is more project management and this is a great opportunity to ask your current supervisor to give you a project. Tell them, you are ready to tackle a new responsibility.  This is a chance for you to either demonstrate your ability to move up in your current organization or it is a great resume builder.
  2. Did you apply? You would think I wouldn’t have to ask this, but I have had several people tell me that they didn’t understand how someone else got a job that they didn’t even apply for.  A similar scenario is someone being promoted when your boss doesn’t know that is what you want.
    1. If you want to move up in your company, you have to tell your supervisor and make sure if you work with other departments that the leadership there knows you want to do more. If your supervisor doesn’t do this as part of your review, set up a meeting and talk about your career path.  You might be surprised to find that they really want to help you.  Be prepared for constructive feedback, they might give you suggestions of areas to work on as well as suggest training that might benefit you.  If that doesn’t work, set up a meeting with HR and let them know of your desire to move up.
  3. Are you networking? As an introvert, this is where I fall short.  And the internet with sites like LinkedIn, lulls us into this false security with “social networking”, but it isn’t enough. Nothing compares to face-to-face networking.  If you really want to change companies or move up in your company, you need to make time to get to know others.  Toastmasters is a great place to build up your communication skills and meet new people in other industries.
    1. Pay It Forward: A friend of mine recently stepped into a new role and was looking for advice from someone with a similar role. I connected her with a peer via e-mail, and now they do coffee regularly.  Both people have returned the favor.  I also host dinners once a quarter for like-minded women.  The group started out as 4 and now we have about 20 people.  5 of whom, have changed companies as a result of our networking dinners.
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Ask Southern: Melasma

I recently have run into several people who have asked me about how I treated my post-baby Melasma.

Never fear, I have tried a lot of things and can help you find a treatment for you.  I am listing them in order of most expensive to least expensive.

Peels: I tried some at home peels, but the biggest bang for my buck came from the Vi Peel.  I waited two years post delivery and decided I had to try something more intense and it was the Vi Peel.  I did 3 of these about 6 months apart and it was worth every penny.  The caveat, be prepared for your skin to turn really red and itchy and it will flake away for about a week.  However, what comes back is a dewy, glowy and less spotted you.  Other things to remember, you need to invest in a gentle cleanser (like Cera-Ve found at the drug store) and some serious moisturizer and sunscreen.  I like Elta MDs UV Clear sunscreen (I use this daily) and their moisturizer (I use a pea size drop of this every night and used it as my moisturizer for the day for a month post peel).

Microdermabrasion:  About once a quarter, I like to get a microdermabrasion to just get all the dead skin off.  I follow with a moisturizer rich in hyaluronic acid to really hydrate my face.  I find this helps reduce the appearance of the uneven skin tone.

Clarisonic Facial Brush: I think anything similar to this would work, but I find this really helps brighten my skin.  I also found I could switch to a gentler more moisturizing cleanser, because this will still get my skin clean.

Other At Home Treatments:  After Baby #2, I found her being a winter baby and the liberal use of sunscreen helped keep the Melasma at bay.  I didn’t have to get another Vi Peel (Mr. Style appreciated that)  So now, I use Peter Thomas Roth’s Unwrinkle Pads for flare ups –otherwise I just use them as a weekly keep the monsters away treatment.  Every make up line and most skin care lines have some type of uneven skin tone treatment.  I tried Clinique, Ole Henrikson, Smashbox, and Dior.  I found that although they do help slowly, they really dried me out and I don’t want to flake during the day.  What I did learn was to apply at night and use a moisturizing wash with a gentle exfoliator each morning to rebrighten and avoid flaking.

I have posted all of these on my Pinterest site.  Don’t forget to send your Ask Southern questions to

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Ask SSS: Equally Confused

Dear Style,


How can women claim credit for “teamwork” – in response to the economic assertion in this article that successful teams credit men more than women:

Equally Confused


Dear Equally Confused,

I believe that there are parts of the country and/or business sectors where for the most part women are treated equally.  I always want to make sure we consider a couple of things when we talk about equality.  First, duration of experience should exclude any time off or medical leave (i.e. maternity/paternity leave, FMLA, etc…)

With that said, I definitely find a ceiling that is shifting but still exists in healthcare leadership for women, and I think it’s unintentional.  I really think the men don’t realize it.  In healthcare, there is a lot of golf.  I actually do play, but just like I would rather play with my friends and people I have more in common with but it the links are where real networking happens in healthcare.  The guys play together and then they become more friendly so when it’s time for promotion and Dick and Jane both worked on the same project, they are more likely to promote Dick … even if Dick didn’t pull his weight (because we aren’t in school and we don’t grade each other on participation).

The more concerning scenario that I also have found in healthcare is managers who take credit for their employees work.  We have a lot of hierarchy in healthcare systems and each physician practice has a manager that reports to a director or senior manager who then reports to a Chief something or other.  Oftentimes, the person between the practice manager and the Chief takes credit for the managers’ success, even though they really didn’t help. I am pretty sure this theme isn’t unique to healthcare.  The idea of bosses taking credit for success of their employees, but what I find is as women we are more apt to dole out credit when being praised than men … so it compounds the unintentional credit with the intentional deception of credit.

You have to find ways to log constructive feedback when team projects aren’t really team. I also think if you have the opportunity in an employee satisfaction survey to point out that when there seems to be an unintentional promotion of men over women, someone needs to hold the organization accountable and give the situation a hard second look.

Additionally, make sure you find polite ways to get credit. My favorite way (which is a little passive-aggressive) is to send the boss an e-mail and cc their boss thanking them for the opportunity to do a project or if you implemented some changes that had some great success send an e-mail letting them know how proud you are of your team and what you did to achieve that.  Creating a paper trail of your success helps develop that path to promotion or recognition.



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Ask Southern: Saving Money as a Busy Working Mom

I have had several of you ask questions about how we save money or how we shop, and I have a steadfast rule – it has to be easy and quick or I am not going to do it.  I just don’t have time.  So here are the easy things we do.

  1. Ebates  – This is a NO brainer.  You get cash back for stores you are already going to shop at.  They had 10% cash back at Ralph Lauren yesterday and I combined this with the sale they were having and already pre-ordered the kids Easter outfits in addition to saving $75 and getting Free Shipping, I am getting 10% back of what I spent.  You just go to Ebates and then follow the link to your store of choice.  Amazon, Target,Gap, Nordstrom, and 1,800 more stores are participating.
  2. Ibotta – I use this for grocery shopping.  I have the app on my cell phone, and after I make my grocery list, I check to see if anything I am buying has a cash rebate.  To unlock it sometimes they play a short video other times you answer a question.  It takes a total of 5 minutes. My grocery store is a preferred partner, so I loaded my loyalty card number and it knows what I purchased.  It also works at Target and some of the drug stores (you just have to take a photo of your receipt.)  You get $10 just for signing up and can cash out after $20.00.
  3. Target
    • Red Card  – If you shop at Target, you need a Red Card. It saves you 5% on Everything and you don’t need to keep receipts for returns.
    • Cartwheel – The super savvy go through their shopping list and search for items on it. I do this half the time, and the other half I use the app to scan my items as I am loading them on the belt to check out. I save about $100 (not counting the additional 5% from my Red Card).
    • Pay attention to the signs in the store – I watch for when the diapers are buy 2 get a gift card for $10+. If you are savvy, you can combine that with their $20 off $100 baby coupon.  When I first had Baby #2, I would buy 4 big boxes – get $20 for a future purchase and save $20 plus my 5% Red Card. This is the closest I will ever get to couponing.
  4. Credit Card Rewards – Don’t be afraid of them, if you can pay it off. Pottery Barn has a new to the area coupon they send out that is usually 10% off any purchase. (If you didn’t get one, just ask at the store and they will honor it)  They offer 10% back in rewards on their card.  When we moved and wanted new furniture, we opened a card and used our 10% off coupon and then spent enough to get 4 free barstools and linens for our dining room table.  We immediately paid it off so we didn’t have interest, but got a great deal.  The Disney Credit Card is the same thing – if you open it and put your trip on it you can earn enough cash back to pay for your meals.

For more ideas, check out my article on finding money with two little ones here.

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As Seen on Today Parenting: 2016 The Year of Southern Hospitality (Starting with our Children)

At the Style household we have committed that 2016 will be our year of demonstrating Southern Hospitality in our home, work, and community. To kick of this resolution, we are teaching our children what this idea of Southern Hospitality means.

At its purest intention we believe Southern Hospitality embraces four key concepts.

  • Welcoming – Making people feel noticed and greeted in a friendly way. For this Winter, our kindergartener is challenged with seeking out someone at school who is alone in the cafeteria or on the playground and making them feel “welcome”. Our 2 year old is challenged with making a new friend at her tumble class. Mr. Style and I are each inviting a new family in our neighborhood or at work over for dinner each month.
  • Demonstrating Kindness – We are going to spend this Spring focusing on kind words. Each day we are going to begin with a compliment to each other and each day we are tasked with giving a compliment to someone we come across at school or work or in the community.
  • Giving – We are going to spend this Summer giving back to our community. Each month we will pick a different service project that includes something each of the children can help with, and work together to give of our time and talents.
  • Being Respectful – We believe that respect flows out of being truly thankful. We are going to spend the Fall picking something each day to be thankful for and at the end of each day, journaling the reasons why we are thankful for that person, place, or thing. During the holidays, we will revisit what we wrote about and reflect on our blessings.
    December will be the culmination of our focus on Southern hospitality. We plan to use the month to assess how well we as a family progressed on the 4 key areas. We also plan to host several events at the house where we can truly practice our improved sense of Southern Hospitality.

This is not a tradition or something we have tried before. Our experiment in Southern Hospitality, as a family endeavor, will mean all the things I love most about our foursome – quality time, sharing and learning together. Look for updates throughout the year on how the Style family is really doing on our new year’s resolution here.

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Bringing Southern Hospitality to Your Physician Practice: Building the Right Schedule

I love the holidays, because we get to see distant family that we don’t see that often.  But it never fails, being in healthcare I get to hear all the good and the bad from family about their doctor.

2015 holidays were no different. Mr. Style’s aunt pulled me aside and tells me she has concluded she has a great doctor because:

  1. she can’t get in to see him for 2 months
  2. when she does get an appointment, she waits at least an hour.

You would think that he was Ralph Lauren making her a dress for the Emmy’s.  And I run across the same sentiment frequently.  The idea that my doctor is better because he is “in demand” is so foreign to me, as a healthcare professional. Physician practices are tasked with treating sick patients and the waits and scheduling challenges are not an achievement to be proud of – rather it is a problem in our very broken healthcare system.

Fixing this isn’t rocket science.  It is simply a matter as administrators and practice managers of changing the way we view our physicians’ schedule and panel.

  1. Is your PCP Panel Size appropriate? If you can’t get in a new patient in the next month and your provider isn’t taking a vacation in the next month, you probably need to cap his/her panel. (If your provider has recently cut down on the amount of time they are seeing patients – look for patients that might be willing to switch to a new provider. For example, maybe they came in for a sick visit and really liked the provider they saw – ask if they would consider switching).
  2. Make sure your team is helping providers see patients and not doing things someone else could. For example, diabetic foot exams can be given to a CMA with training.  Your CMAs can review prescription requests to ensure they are set up correctly for the provider.  Having your provider take a few minutes to review the schedule with the CMA before the day starts is a great way to keep them on schedule and to be prepared for the patient.
  3. Build your template. Without doing a full consult, I can’t tell you the perfect template for you. What I can tell you: patients are people who don’t want to wait in your waiting room or exam rooms for long periods of time.  To fix this, simply:
    1. Do a time study with each provider. A simple spreadsheet – where you put the type of appointment, time scheduled, time arrived, time brought back, time MA/LPN left room, time provider entered, time provider exited, and time patient left)
    2. Use this to say Dr. X needs 30 minutes instead of 20 or if it is just certain patients that always need more time (document that in your scheduling system or just make a list of them). Give the providers the time they need– there is nothing wrong with having  different times for different providers.
  4. Bill for the time they spend. There are wonderful resources out there about billing evaluation and management codes based on time and how to document that.  Instead of seeing one more patient, instead bill for what you are doing.  For example, tobacco counseling is its own reimbursable code that you can add to a non-wellness visit.  Discussing weight loss when an obese patient is there for joint pain – bill it, it should have its own reimbursable code.

New year’s resolution: Let’s change the idea that good doctors make you wait.  Imagine what an impact your practice will have if doctors actually see your patients when they need you.

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Southern Hospitality: Neighbors

A theme this year for me is bringing southern hospitality to your workplace and to your home.

Southern hospitality is a phrase used in American English to describe the stereotype of residents of the Southern United States as particularly warm, sweet, and welcoming to visitors to their homes, or to the South in general.

Mr. Style and I moved last year into a new neighborhood that truly embraces the sense of Southern Hospitality, but does it in a new tech friendly way.  Here is how we do it and you can, too.

  • Welcoming New Neighbors: We all join the website Nextdoor, which allows us to communicate Facebook style with our neighbors. We welcome each new neighbor as they join.  It allows those of us that work to be part of the greeting committee without having to bake anything.  The site lets you know where they live and we post recent family pictures so when I see them while walking, I know who they are.
  • Social Gatherings: We do have a social committee, which I sit on. But we are super low-key.  We plan a few events each year that are actually low key.  We always ask for feedback on Nextdoor – we publicize on Nextdoor, and because we include all in the final decisions – we always have enough help.  For example, our Christmas event was a cookie swap with family photos with Santa (we have a photographer in the neighborhood) and sugar cookie decorating for the kids.  Neighbors helped set up and cleaned up and local teenagers that wanted service hours took care of the kids decorating cookies.
  • Informal Social Gatherings: Because we have created this sense of welcoming, we do things together. For example, we wanted to make two flavors of homemade ice cream last summer.  We put it out on Nextdoor (because we didn’t want to eat that much ice cream) and our backyard and deck turned into the 8 flavor samplings with 30+ neighbors that happened to be home.
  • Start Small: Create a small group of 3 or 4 couples and have 1 couple agree to babysit so the others can go out and the next month swap.  Or hire a sitter to entertain the kids in another part of the house while the adults have a grown up dinner.

Welcome your neighbors, even if they didn’t welcome you.  It is so nice to be able to go home and have your neighbors smile and wave.  Life is too short to not like the people who live nextdoor.

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