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Shawn Love knew from an early age she wanted to become a doctor. She has lived out her dream, but not without hardship. “Six years into practice I was diagonsed with bilateral breast cancer on the same day I found out I was pregnant with my daughter,” she said. “I refused to terminate my pregnancy in lieu of breast sparring radiation and lumpectomy and instead had my first mastectomy when I was 26 weeks pregnant, when my daughter could survive outside the womb should she delivery early.” She and husband Parrish Capel searched for a different lifestyle and landed at Christie Clinic in 2006. She served 6 of 8 years as chairman of the orthopedic department, many as the only surgeon in the department. She left in 2014 to educate and advocate for her special needs daughter, Aja. She elected to return to medical practice in 2017, bringing a new practice model to Champaign County by opening The Carpal Tunnel Center, the county’s first office-based outpatient minor hand surgery clinic specializing in carpal tunnel surgery. In her free time, Love is a member of the Illini Robotics Board and the coach of Invader Bots, the FTC competitive robotics team her daughter started three years ago. “I am also an advocate for different thinkers,” she said.
See why we think Shawn Love is a Chambana Mom to Know
Q: You have been a doctor for a long time. Why go into business for yourself?
I went into business for myself because having spent most of my career in traditional medicine I was becoming disheartened by the direction medicine was going in and the immense red tape doctors had to cut through to provide even the most straight forward of medical care to patients. It was feeling like the middlemen, the insurance companies, employers, and hospital systems were increasingly becoming the decision makers. The doctor-patient relationship had become crowded and had been turned into a three-some. I was tired of having discussions about patient satisfaction surveys, not seeing enough patients, seeing too many patients and not enough discussions about patient outcomes and best practices. During my sabbatical I studied the changing face of medicine and I believed I had discovered a better way to provide convenient, high quality, affordable medical-surgical care to patients who required outpatient minor hand surgeries such as carpal tunnel release, DeQuervains release, trigger finger release, ganglion cyst removal, minor lacerations, and excision of masses. My practice is a family affair with my loving and supportive husband, Parrish Capel, as my practice manager.
Q: What are the main advantages of your practice, especially for your patients?
The main advantages of my practice, especially for patients, is they receive the same surgical procedures I did in the hospital or surgery center but scheduling is much quicker and at a much cheaper cost. My prices are transparent and published on my website. I offer same day surgery and bilateral surgery. My relationship is directly and only with the patient and I work only for them. I am not beholding to any middlemen. I am committed to providing patients the best, most innovative, most timely and affordable care without having to ask for permission from employers or insurance companies. My patients and I decide together what is their best course of treatment and then I provide it immediately, often same day. I am able to do Skype visits if needed. I specialize in WALANT which is wide awake local anesthesia no tourniquet techniques for all surgeries so patients do not have to fast, they do not need an IV, they do not need pre-op clearance, surgery is minimally invasive with a small scar and generally takes less than 60 minutes. Patients have surgery reclining in a very comfortable lazy boy chair listening to soothing music. They are able to drive themselves to and from their surgery. Recovery is quick with most returning to work within a few days, depending on their job requirements.
Q: Your model is an innovative one, especially in this community. How has it been received so far?
My practice model has been excitedly well received, especially by nontraditional medical practitioners and patients, especially those who couldn’t get in with their traditional doctors. We have state of the art fluoroscopic X-ray and have been able to provide cheaper X-ray services to patients who were driving to Bloomington. We have been able to give patients same day appointments and same day surgery. Patients have been able to choose appointments and surgery dates and times that fit their schedules, including early morning, lunch time and late afternoon.
Q: What do you see as the biggest learning curve you’ve faced so far becoming a business owner?
The biggest learning curve has been learning to participate in the social media world and letting data drive marketing and advertising. Through the business I sent my first tweet and instagram. Marketing is so much more complex than when I was in private practice years ago.
Q: What resources in the community did you use on your journey to entrepreneurship? What were the most impactful resources, and why?
I used the counseling at the SBDC, the Champaign Library, First Friday, BNI and both the Champaign County and Black Chambers of Commerce. I used all local businesses for every aspect of establishing my practice.
Q: Who is a business person you see as a role model, and why?
Dr. Sue Mantell of Center For Your Health because she has created a thriving grass roots direct primary care practice. She bravely introduced the concept of direct care to the community a few years back and she has been instrumental in helping me understand the landscape. Together we are partnering to expand direct care services to the area. She has already done for medicine everything I am trying to do for outpatient orthopedic hand surgery and she is graciously giving me the benefits of her wisdom.
Q: What is one thing you wish you had done differently?
In hindsight I would have done more pre-opening marketing and advertising.
Q: Do you have any advice for other women/moms who want to own their own businesses?
My advice is to find your passion then follow your heart, create a well thought out business plan, find mentors and go fo it.
Q: Tell me something most people don’t know about you.
Most people don’t know I took a 3 year sabbatical from medicine to educate and advocate for my special needs daughter, Aja Capel. My fantastic, loving, energetic, growing-up too fast 14 year old daughter will be starting her junior year in high school. She has dyslexia, dysgraphia, ADHD-inattentive type, CAPD, and visual disturbances. My daughter teaches robotics at the Orpheum Children’s Science Museum, starts robotics clubs, writes grants and partners with area organizations to put on STEM exposure events and summer camps because she is passionate about bridging the STEM gap and blazing a trail for kids of color, girls, and different thinkers like herself. Most people don’t know how time consuming special needs educational advocacy is and how painful it is to watch my brilliant daughter deal with teachers who despite straight A’s, all the accolades, and all the national awards cannot see past her learning differences. My daughter saved my life. I found out I had bilateral breast cancer on the same day I found out I was pregnant with her. I think our survival journey together created a very special bond between us. Together on this adventure we call life we have learned together to not feel sorry for ourselves as different thinkers but to boldly say to those standing in our way “I am so sorry you cannot see….Me!!” During my 3 year sabbatical while advocating for her I discovered I was also dyslexic and ADHD and that helped explain a lot of the trials and tribulations in my own life story.