Interview with Dr. Elvira Beracochea, Global Public Health Expert
Dr. Elvira Beracochea is President and CEO of MIDEGO. Here is the transcript of a recent interview conducted with her that summarizes the many questions potential clients ask to learn more about her and her unique approach to helping health professionals like her in developing countries advance in their public health careers and make a much bigger difference in global health.
Interviewer: I understand that you have been working in public health for sometime. Can you tell me how long you have been doing what you do and your philosophy on global health and development?
Dr. Elvira: At the risk of dating myself, let me say that I have been working in health for a very long time. OK, I will say it, I have been an MD for 28 years and have been working in public health for more than 25 years. My philosophy on global health and development changed eight years ago when I started my own global public health consulting company to help health professionals achieve more in their careers. I believe health professionals in developing countries hold the key to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. So I made it my job to help them do it faster, better and more effectively! The defining moment for me was when after two years of working with very good colleagues in Angola, the project ended and I had to stop working with them. I had gone through that before when other projects I worked in ended. And as before, I just could not stop working and supporting my colleagues. In the past, I had stayed in touch and on my own time, I kept helping and supporting them until they found a new job. This time in Angola, it was just impossible to leave. I knew the project had ended but I also knew I just could not leave my colleagues. We had worked so hard to restore health services after many years of civil war in the Province of Huambo. They were a great team, great professionals, great people. I had to find a way to keep helping them, so I helped them start their own NGO.
That experience inspired me to found MIDEGO with the firm conviction that I would make a living of coaching health professionals who want save more lives and develop their country. I realized that throughout out the years I had developed a very cost-effective coaching approach to help health professionals advance in their career by coaching them by email and skype. I also realized my mission was to expand my coaching approach so I could support more health professionals like me and my Angolan colleagues to keep saving lives and developing their country. In short, I realized that if we worked together in this way, we would not only achieve but exceed the Millennium Development Goals. And that is why I named the company MIDEGO. I knew there were many health professionals that with a bit of coaching they could make a much bigger impact.
I wish I knew what I know now when I first started my career! I cannot change that but I can help others fast track their careers so they do not have to wait 25 years or more to do what I do! My approach can compress all the experience of years in weeks! I believe that public health professionals empowered with the right information, tools and systems will achieve the MDGs and develop our world faster. However, change is scary. That was a scary moment when I realized I had to leave my job and work in different ways if I was to fulfill my mission. You will realize that health professionals go through stages in their careers and I was about to move on to the next stage. It is a great feeling and a privilege to be able to be true to one’s mission. I am very fortunate to be able to follow my mission and do the work I love with people I love and admire, many of them were my former colleagues! I do sincerely love and admire the work our clients do and would not change my work a bit!
How did you get to be a public health expert?
Dr. Elvira: I knew all my life I wanted to help people and becoming a doctor was the best way to do it. I loved science and I always loved to figure out how things work in the human body, particularly the brain; always been fascinated by the human brain. I hope we talk more about that sometime. In any case, when I realized I had to follow my mission, I also realized that we, global public health professionals, go through stages throughout our careers. Careers are not static. We change, and our careers change. My first dream was to be a neurologist. Midway in my neurology training, I realized that what I wanted was to prevent the brain hemorrhage cases and other diseases I was diagnosing. At that time, there was no post-graduate training in preventive Medicine in my native Uruguay. Serendipitously, that week my mom read in the paper an announcement about scholarships to study public health in Israel. I got the scholarship and a few weeks later I was on my way to Jerusalem! Destiny is amazing! I do believe that there is some force out there that brought me where I am and brought you to this page… but I digress… Back to my story, during my master’s training, I fell in love with epidemiology, community medicine and public health management and since then I have been honing those skills! You may be going through the some of the stages I went through, so here they are. At first, as a doctor I became good at helping people one on one, and then as a public health professional, I realized that to help more people prevent and treat disease I needed systems to make sure things work even when I was not there, so I created a number of systems to help me do my work better.
Also, I realized I needed systems because to have lasting results, we must work effectively with others, we cannot work alone. Systems allow us to work with other professionals and stakeholders in the communities we serve to improve health. Next, I realized I needed to teach others what I was learning in my career and help the next generation of health professionals to learn from my successes and failures. For many years, I was training and teaching others what I know. However, there is a limit to how many people I can teach. So finally, in the stage I am now, I am creating new programs all the time to allow others to do what I do. I am also writing books that show how I uncovered my mission, develop public health systems and help other professionals achieve amazing results. Why? Because my mission is to help other health professionals succeed in their careers at every stage so we can take public health to a new performance level and finally achieve health for all. I am certain that will happen in my lifetime!
Who are your clients?
Dr. Elvira: My clients are professionals working in the health sector, mostly doctors, nurses, health education experts, researchers, academics, etc. and also accountants, marketing and health management professionals. I have also worked with pastors and sisters who are helping orphans and other vulnerable groups in their congregations, secretaries and receptionists. I love that because I believe health is everyone’s job and we all have a job in health, from religious and political leaders to schoolteachers, to administrative staff and parents, and children. As public health professionals, it is our job to help them all to do their best job in health.
My expertise is what I call working with health professionals in transition. I help health professionals that want to achieve more in their careers, contribute more to their organizations, save more lives and ultimately make history and change the world. I do believe and my experience confirms that, that one person can change the world. My typical client usually is in one of three stages and wants to successfully work out their next career transition to a much bigger level of impact in global public health:
The first and larger group is usually a doctor or a nurse or another type of public health professional, with 3 to 5 years of experience,looking for a system and the tools to take his or her career to the next level, help more people and get known. Their primary focus tends to be on developing their career, growing their practice and demonstrating rapid results.
The second group of clients I work with includes public health or global health professionals, with 5 to 8 years of experience. They are working too hard, but do not see the results of their work, and are looking for a way to become a more effective public health professional or manager, become better known as an authority in their field, and/or have work come to them instead of constantly looking for the next assignment. They tend to need one or more of the turnkey systems I have developed to help establish themselves as an international expert consultant and help hundreds of people.
The third and most select group of clients includes experienced public health or global health managers, with more than 8 years of experience managing a doctor or nurse who has been very successful in their career or a public or global health program or organization in the US or another country. This client knows something is missing in his or her career and is ready to take the leap! I was there so I know how it feels! I wish I had had someone to help me! It would have saved me years! This client wants to lead his or her field, and focus on their unique mission. They tend to need one or more of my systems and personal coaching to focus on developing their unique talents ad their own unique system to help thousands of people and make an impact at global scale!
Recently we have received requests from inspired professionals outside the usual public health and global development field. These clients want to make a career change and also develop the world. They want to give back and share their experience with others. They are looking for the tools to really effectively help others and share their talents. They usually come from business, marketing, and communication and they tend to need personal coaching to understand how development works. They just do not want to give money to charities, they want to change lives. As the saying goes, they do not want to give “fish”, they know where the fish are and want to teach others “how to fish.” They need to learn the basics of global health and development assistance and personalized coaching to start to share their talents and help thousands of people in developing countries learn from them and do what they do just as well.
How are you different from other public health professionals?
Dr. Elvira: Let me tell you a bit more of my story and you will understand how and why I am different and why MIDEGO, my company, is different. I was born and raised in a developing country. I studied medicine in a developing country and started my career there. I have been through all the career stages my clients are going through and know how to succeed. For more than 25 years, I have worked as a public health doctor, researcher, project manager, and consultant in more than 40 developing countries; and I know first-hand that it’s not just about lack of resources, or lack of education and training. I know it is about having the right mindset, the right support to take action, implement best practice knowledge and the right tools to overcome big barriers and everyday challenges. I have witnessed the gaping holes in the systems; I have experienced the waste, the duplication of programs and efforts and lost opportunities. I have been there and I am there with my clients when they tackle what seem overwhelming problems. I know intimately what it takes to improve health services and the challenges my clients face every day. Public health is wonderful work, but it’s hard work that can leave you feeling frustrated and trapped if you do not have the right tools and support. That is why I started MIDEGO . . . to help other public professionals benefit from my knowledge and experience, so they do not have to go through what I went through. I make it simple to get improve health services and public health programs making the best of existing resources.
Through MIDEGO, I have developed systems to simplify and make public health work easier and more efficient. My team and I know how to help our clients improve how they work with the resources they already have, to become efficient and build on the assets they have right now. I think I am a natural teacher because I can see complex things and make them simple. I am sorry to see how other organizations make health services in developing countries more complex, creating duplication and implementing parallel or unaligned, unharmonized approaches and activities. MIDEGO’s streamlined systems simplify the complex. Yes, global health is often rocket science, but I know how to make even global health “rocket science” so simple that our clients can actually get started on their own by simply applying the 1% concept, which shows you how to overcome problems by adding as little as 1% extra effort every day and no additional resources. That’s right, “no additional resources!” I bet you have never heard that before.
The best part is that I created the coaching system to personally accompany our clients until they get the results they want. No more having a consultant coming to do some work for two weeks with no effective and lasting solution resulting from it. No more going to a training workshop and getting back to work and not knowing how to get started to apply the theory learned in the workshop. No, that kind of training is wasted time and money because nothing changes, especially when you return home and you don’t have the resources, the medicines, the information updates, support and staff you need to implement any of what you’ve learned at those high cost seminars or training workshops. My clients get the solutions they need to lead the way. They get exactly the support they need to implement the solutions themselves. No more isolated projects that address only one disease or one part of the system without effective coordination and monitoring of results. My clients understand their health system and are able to leverage and harmonize inputs in accordance with their country’s health and development goals.
What personality type do you work best with?
Dr. Elvira: I work best with achievers, those that are committed to making a difference and treat patients as guests in their own home; those that like me also want to achieve more in their careers. My expertise is working with professional women, because I know what it takes to raise a family while working hard to advance in your career and make a difference in the world. I also like working with inspired professional men that are not fixed on gender roles because I help them work to integrate family and professional lives and succeed in both! I like working with both men and women professionals in an organization so they learn to complement each other and overcome gender barriers. My best clients follow through, meet their targets, make no excuses, and ask for help if they see they may fall behind or realize they are not on track. They want to have up-to-date knowledge in global health and put it to use right away. In sum, they are prepared to do what it takes to make history, improve the health status of the people they serve and achieve their career goals no matter what. In short, my clients want to and do develop the world!
What type is not good for you?
Dr. Elvira: People, who are not passionate about their career, who only want to do the minimum, don’t follow through and are consistently late in submitting their work. People that make up excuses, blame others for what they have or don’t have. People who are not prepared to change their attitude towards work, do not take charge of their careers and of what they do and how. We do help professionals sort out their “professional mindsets” which may prevent them from taking the big leap to a new stage in their careers. However, we cannot help people that do not want to change, or have serious psychological or emotional issues that make them consistently sabotage themselves. In sum, we are not good for people who complain and don’t take responsibility for their own career and the results they achieve and that are not compassionate or professional about their work. After all, I believe taking responsibility for one’s career and the results we get is the mark of a professional.
What exactly is the MIDEGO System and what does it include?
Dr. Elvira: As I said before, I have learned that health careers are not static, health professionals go through various stages. That is why I created the MIDEGO system to help our clients work out their career transition, move from one stage to the next without having to through the old “trial and error.” The MIDEGO System is the way we work at MIDEGO and it consists of three career building blocks: Mission, Systems and Results. Let me tell you what each of these blocks consists of:
1. Get clear on your mission: The first step is to realize what stage you are in and what you want to achieve as a health or development professional. Our clients work with their personal coach who helps them get clear on their career mission, goals and immediate and long-term steps to get to where they want to be next in their careers. Next, we help our clients realize their unique talents and strengths and “play” to those strengths to develop a career plan that fulfills their mission, starting from where they are now. Career satisfaction and motivation are very important to us. We want you to be so excited that you can’t wait to get to work every morning. We do feel that way about our work! We know it is important to know and feel one is doing the right thing right to succeed as a health professional, so we give our clients the right knowledge and tools to learn the latest technical information, apply it and feel confident about overcoming the inevitable challenges anyone implementing change has to face. Our clients are not only clear on what their unique public health mission is but are inspired and energized by it. You may not even think that you have a mission. Or maybe you had a mission years ago, but you have lost sight of it. The MIDEGO training and coaching system will help you visualize and articulate your mission in language that will give you the edge and energy to keep moving forward faster and successfully. Your work will finally become fulfilling.
2. Systematize. After getting a clear mission and career plan, then, we show our clients how to put to work a number of systems MIDEGO has developed to work smarter and more efficiently. The systems are chosen based on the client’s needs and career stage. They may include the “Health for All Now” System to manage a clinic efficiently, the “Medicines for All Now” System to manage a pharmacy efficiently; the “Measure it or Forget it” system to implement a culture of measurement and a very innovative approach to M&E, that is monitoring and evaluation; or the “ABC System” to maximize the client’s assets, beliefs and competence to become a public health leader. Or the “Six Sigma for Global Health” system to improve project or programmatic results and improve quality of care. Each system is designed to put the right processes in place and reduce the number of errors health professionals make to less than 3.4 errors per 1 million opportunities. The best part of the “Systematize” building block is that it makes use of all our clients already know! I often say that “people don’t know what they know.” What do I mean by that? We usually take our knowledge for granted! Think about all that you do in a day and all that you have done in your career. It’s a lot, I’m sure of it. What if you knew how to organize all that information and knowledge so you can train others and work better as a team and delegate better? You can—you just need to know how to systematize your knowledge.
3. Results. With your mission in clear view and your systems in place, the next step is to demonstrate and share visible results. That is what health professionals deliver, better health for their patients, communities, their country. Results is how you get known, for what you have done, and for what you achieve and how you help others. Through this career building block of the MIDEGO System I will show you how to speak up and share your expertise and achievement. Sharing doesn’t always come easy. We have a tendency to want to hang onto our knowledge because we fear either speaking in public, and that sharing our work seems we are boasting. Most health professionals I know are very humble. I show them that they are not boasting. It is the professional thing to do! Imagine you have found a marvelous treasure that can help anyone that has access to it; wouldn’t you like to share it with others so they also get the help they need? Knowing how to share your results and how to do it effectively will help your career grow and help you achieve bigger results. The MIDEGO System shows you several ways to do it so that will soon speaking and sharing become effortless!
In sum, the MIDEGO System accelerates learning and improves personal and organizational effectiveness and efficiency for better faster and quality health outcomes and lasting impact. Who does not want that? I wish I had had someone show me how when I was getting started!
Does the MIDEGO System really work?
Dr. Elvira: I know you may be thinking, “This all sounds great, but how can one person do all this? How can all this work? Is it really this simple?” The answers are yes, one person can reach thousands, and yes, the MIDEGO System does work and yes, it can be simple. It takes a commitment to making your work count, achieve success in global health, and turn your career around so you can do what you were meant to do, be who wanted to be when you chose to be health professional, and fulfill your career mission. If you really want to have more impact on the health of those you serve or make your clinic or program run more efficiently, then I promise I can help you. But you don’t have to take my word for it though. Go to the MIDEGO website and follow the link to some recent clients’ success stories. Read what others have been able to accomplish in a very short time after participating in one of our programs.
What results can I expect?
Dr. Elvira: That’s the bottom line for most of us, to meet and exceed our clients’ expectations. “What can I expect?” That’s an important question. Glad you asked. The answer is you must expect to achieve results daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly: Improved results, that is; quality and consistent results that you can count on every week. Our focus is on making each of the 52 weeks you have per year count. A week is what I call the "unit of change." For that reason, our training program, like the "7-Day Health for All Now Program" focus on achieving "7 day" increments. You will accomplish more every day because you will be organizing your work in a completely different way so you will see measurable results, daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly. No, you won’t need to change who you are or take a completely different route. You will make what I call a “shift” and as time goes by and you stay on that new path, you will see that the shift on the road leads to better results and greater impact. In a sum, you can expect a lot from working with MIDEGO:
- A growing practice
- Increased professional and organizational effectiveness
- Improved team work, performance and accountability
- Improved communication with and among your team and colleagues
- Improved coordination with stakeholders and partners
- Reduced errors in health care delivery and public health program management to less than 3.4 errors per 1 million opportunities
- Demonstrated ability to apply new and existing public health tools and develop effective skills
- Access to state of the art public health information and to a network of like-minded professionals
- Tangible results and the metrics and M&E systems to deliver and measure results consistently
- The confidence that you can count on systems that support your work and allow you to achieve more
- The satisfaction that your work is making a difference
- The recognition of your contribution to global health,
- Be known for your results and the difference you make
- Be an inspiration to others and a leader in your field or organization
- Lasting impact on the lives of the professionals you work with and the communities you serve, and
- You will really embrace challenges and enjoy every work day because you know you have the systems to overcome anything global health throws at you!
Can I contact some former clients?
Dr. Elvira: Yes. We are happy to have you speak with previous clients, most of whom we stay in touch with for years and some have become our partners! Look at the success stories of our clients and feel free to email them. I encourage you to do so.
How quickly can I expect results?
Dr. Elvira: The great thing about our programs is that they are based on MIDEGO’s “learn and apply” methodology that makes it easy for you to implement what you learn, which means you begin seeing results right away, in the first 7 days. Your personal coach accompanies you all the way so you can sort out any questions or roadblocks because the more areas of your work that you apply the system to, the more results you see.
How can you guarantee that I will achieve my goals in Public Health?
Dr. Elvira: After coaching hundreds and hundreds of health professionals I can tell you that if you are ready and committed, you will succeed. I am so certain of this that I will give your money back if you do not have the success you want. I know the MIDEGO system is not right for everyone. So if it is not for you, we will return your fee. No problem. We are the only ones with a guarantee in global health—that’s how confident we are. You only need to say “yes, I am ready to achieve quality results efficiently and consistently in my global health and world development career.” We will be there to help you take the next step, and apply the system and tools that are right for you.
How will we work together and what will that entail?
Dr. Elvira: MIDEGO’s programs are tailored to meet the demands of a busy professional’s life. We have a number of ways you can work with us. I suggest you start with our introductory program, "the 7-Day Health for All NOW Program" and then take another program that fits your needs or join the "Global Health Leadership Institute" for three, six or 12 months to receive personalized coaching. On the online 7-Day programs you receive the program material via email daily or by logging onto MIDEGO’s website and you can work at your convenience. In the Global Health Leadership Institute programs you receive personal coaching, personal feedback to improve your work and answers to all your questions from your personal global health coach daily by email. You also receive ongoing weekly skupe or phone coaching sessions for the to help you fully implement your next career phase or improvement project. Our personalized coaching programs allow you to set up a schedule with your coach that meets your unique needs, by email, and skype. We also have a number of upcoming live events that you will want to achieve so you get interact with other like-minded professionals. Please see our website or sign up to receive our monthly newsletter to get the schedule of live events.
How long are your programs?
Dr. Elvira: Most clients in the fast track stage of their career, start with the basic two week program, the 7-Day Health for All NOW Program. Then, they sign up for 3, 6 or 12 months coaching programs. Clients aiming for the expert or visionary stages sign up for a 12 month program to ensure they get the support they need to have a successful year and turn their careers. Depending on the stage you are in your career, I suggest you set up a “Get Acquainted Call” to find out more about the options you have to advance in your career. Please email to email@example.com to request an appointment or you might fill in an application online.
How much time do these programs take?
Dr. Elvira: Everyone’s schedule is tight these days so I designed the programs so you can focus on what matters to you most in your career and advance in your career by investing an hour to an hour and a half per day to work on an online training program. Of course, you can put more time if you want if you are an overachiever! After the initial training, we show you how to focus on your goals and career once a week to plan your week ahead and get your work on “autopilot” so you can focus on getting the results you want and impact global health.
What would you tell me if I were someone that works for an NGO that helps people in Zambia? What can you offer?
Dr. Elvira: I have worked in Zambia and in every continent, from Papua New Guinea and the Philippines to Uganda and Nicaragua, so I know the challenges health professionals in Zambia face. Depending on where you are in your career, we will help you figure out what results you want to achieve in the communities you serve in Zambia. Next, we will provide you with the assistance, systems and tools you need to get fast track results and monitor the results you are achieving to make adjustments and keep growing. Next, we will work with you so you can support your team and ensure everyone’s performance contributes and adds value the goals of your NGO. I would tell you that if your work is not making a big difference and you are not making public health history, you need a coach to help you identify the areas where you NGO needs to outperform! Please call us at 703-978-3331or skype us at midegousa to set up a “Get Acquainted Call” or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
I work for the Federal government and I noticed MIDEGO is small, woman-owned company. How can we access your services?
Dr. Elvira: That is correct. MIDEGO is a small business, which means we have less than 500 employees. We succeed through our clients and we don’t need a big team because we have systems in place that make work simple and consistently effective. MIDEGO is also an 8a company. And as you know, as an 8a company, you can award sole-source contracts for up to $4.5 million to allow thousands of health professionals in developing countries to advance in their career, scale up best practices, lead high impact country-led public health interventions, strengthen health systems in their countries and thus achieve global health goals, the Millennium Development Goals 2015 targets and meet the principles of the Global Health Initiative and the Paris Declaration. When you work with MIDEGO, you will able to build a network of effective health professionals aligned with global health goals and track the progress of each these health professionals through our web-portal weekly (clients only access this portal), and thus, measure the return on your investment in people. We will assist you to compare the effectiveness of different interventions and results from different countries and make adjustment to your programs weekly. Most importantly, the country-led interventions your contracts support would quickly become sustainable and independent from your assistance, allowing you to invest in more high level impact activities and expand in scale. Moreover, given our cost-effective programs, you would be able to ensure that most funding goes to fund effective country-led interventions that are implemented by accountable professionals who are able to demonstrate effective performance and thus achieve lasting impact. Please call us at 703-978-3331 to set up a “Get Acquainted Call” or email us at email@example.com for more information.
If I am not ready to get started, how can I test at a low cost if the MIDEGO System and working with you is the right thing for me?
Dr. Elvira: I suggest you read one of my books, it is called “Health for All NOW”. If you share the vision the book presents about how global health and health services must work, and you want to create something similar, it is likely we can help you. You can also try the "7-Day Health for All NOW Program." The program is packed with tools and information to help you get better at what you do in global public health. When you complete this introductory program, you will receive a questionnaire to help you decide your next step and when you fill it out and submit it, MIDEGO will suggest options for you to keep advancing in your career. And please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. We are happy to help you.
Ok, I changed my mind. Yes, I am ready to get started today. How can I contact you to get started right away?
Dr. Elvira: Congratulations! I am glad you are not delaying getting started to succeed in your career and make history by developing the world. Why delay reaching the next best stage in your global public health career and achieving global health success? Please call us at 703-978-3331 or email us at email@example.com to set up a “Get Acquainted Call”. I can’t wait to help you succeed. Let’s get started!
Based on all this you have said, I know you are the person I want to work with. How can I get started now?
Dr. Elvira: “Now is always a good time” I always say and you will read it in our books and program. First, let me congratulate you on making the decision to invest in your career and make a much bigger contribution to global health. Second, it is great you are not delaying getting started! Most clients always tell me they wish they had started sooner or met me earlier! Please call us at 703-978-3331 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a “Get Acquainted Call” and find out how we can help you.