Growing up in Hockinson, Tek Fish always heard great things about Camas. “It has the best schools … Camas is growing like crazy …. It’s a great community,” he said.
Fast forward to recent times, Tek said he and his wife were looking for a place to raise a family, to put down roots for his future podiatry office. Once he discovered that Camas was his best choice when it came to opening a business and raising a family, his practice really got off on the right foot.
“There’s nothing like Downtown Camas anywhere,” Tek said. “It’s so quaint, peaceful, safe, clean, inviting and charming. We found the perfect office space that I couldn’t pass up, and made the decision to set up shop in Camas.”
Tek always dreamed of being a surgeon. “As I got closer to applying to medical schools, I really wanted to find a career where I could be a great dad as well. I wanted to work for myself and have as much freedom with time and finances as possible to spend my non-work time with my family. Podiatry was the perfect fit.”
He has spent the last several years training in reconstructive foot and ankle surgery, and now has his own practice,
Clover Podiatry: Tek Fish, DPM, opened last November in Downtown Camas at 405 NE 6th Avenue. “And most importantly, I have a two-year-old daughter who I get to spend as much time with as I want.”
Opening a new medical office from scratch can be a daunting task. “I started putting things together over a year before seeing my first patient,” Tek said. “As with any business, there are licenses, and rules and insurance to comply with. With a medical office, there are several extra licenses for being a physician, running a medical facility and treating patients that you have to comply with.”
The process of getting contracted with insurance plans to be an “in-network” provider takes at least three months for each insurance company.
“I had to get approved by the hospital to perform surgery there, which is about a 40-page application and three-month review process. I had to purchase all the medical supplies, x-ray, shockwave therapy, and so on. It can get quite expensive!”
After setting up the practice, Tek found it most important to create relationships with other local providers. “Doctors can’t send me their patients if they don’t know I exist,” he said. “Staying motivated through it all was tough, I’m sure any business owner can relate to that … and it was all worth it!”
To build good rapport with patients, Tek has a particular style. “First, I compliment them when I first walk in the door, on anything, maybe their cool cell phone case or their Seahawks hat. I smile as I introduce myself, even though it’s under a mask. While staying professional, I try to talk to them as I would if they were my brother or mom or cousin asking me for foot advice. I just get to the point and tell it how it is.”
Tek said that “tough love,” when done right, builds a good relationship of trust.
“My job is not to talk down to patients, not to be smarter than them, not to criticize patients for being unhealthy. They are here in my office looking for help, my job is to serve the patients as a whole. After talking to someone who might need bunion surgery, we decide together it’s probably best to wait another year or two until they retire or maybe next winter is the right time for them.”
He has a motto if you will … “all feet are connected to people and you have to treat the people connected to those feet.”
As his practice grows, Tek said he continues to hone his skill as a nurturer and is always sharpening his powers of observation. He shared a memory of a younger Tek: “As I would wait for the bus growing up, I had this special talent of being able to spot four-leaf clovers. I would mark them with a rock, pick them when I got home and press them in books. Every time anyone opens a book now at my parents’ house, there are always a few dried four-leaf clovers that fall out. I lost track of how many I’ve found. Several years ago, I estimated I had found well over a thousand and had pressed several hundred. I still find them all the time and press some of the good ones. And I like to share them with others. Kids sometimes appreciate four-leaf clovers the most. The clover has become kind of a family symbol for me. I really do feel like a lucky guy!”