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On the Job with Eric Belusko

Dr. Eric Belusko is the owner and therapist of Albany Hand Therapy. He enjoys relaxing in his spare time by fishing.

Dr. Eric Belusko is the owner and therapist of Albany Hand Therapy. He enjoys relaxing in his spare time by fishing.

Eric Belusko knows hard work, but he also knows how to relax.

Belusko endured about a decade of hard work in a restaurant as he financed his medical education. But, he likes to play as much as he enjoys his profession. He admits to his unbridled love of fishing.

Belusko, owner of Albany Hand Therapy, recently shared a question-and-answer session with reporter Jim West.

Q. What was your first job?

A. Working for Mr. Gatti’s Pizza in Knoxville, Tenn. I worked 10 or 12 years in the restaurant business. I put myself through school and I have fond memories of the restaurant business. I started as a bus boy when I was 15 years old and moved on to being a waiter.

Q. What was the first thing you spent money on when you received your first ever paycheck?

A. It was a Rawlings baseball glove — the new model that was out that year and I was pretty excited to acquire one.

Q. What’s the single most effective technique you found over the past two years for keeping employees motivated?

A. I think you have to impart on your employees their importance to the organization and how it functions as a whole. I’ve been blessed with good employees, particularly my office manager.

Q. What led you to your current position? Why did you want to operate your own business?

A. I wanted to become a therapist because I have a love for anatomy, and a hand therapist in particular because the hand has the most complex lever systems in the human body. It just fascinated me. In my last position I became more of a manager than a clinician and so I went into business because I wanted to get back to being a clinician.

Q. Do you have a role model or mentor in your career?

A. A lot of the orthopedic surgeons in town actually served as mentors for me. They were very generous to have me in their surgeries and helped me develop my clinical skills by just increasing my knowledge of what goes on in a surgery and showing me what impact the surgery has on what I’ll be seeing afterward.

Q. What is the biggest lesson you as a business leader learned from the recent recession?

A. Even during times of recession, people will seek you out and you can survive a recession that way. Also, keep your overhead as low as possible.

Q. If you could turn the clock back on one aspect of technology – examples e-mail, automated phone systems, cell phones, PDAs, etc. – what would you most like to see go away?

A. The phone tree. When you call up a large business and you push one for this or two for this, just tell me which one gets me a person on the line that I can talk to.

Q. What is your favorite work-related gadget?

A. We have a device called the BTE. It’s a big device and it lets us duplicate a multitude of work activities and daily living activities, so we can do those in the clinic.

Q. What is your favorite tradition?

A. A live Christmas tree — going out and picking it out and if you can, chopping it down. The kids usually pick the tree and we bring it back.

Q. What was the last book you read? Do you have things you read daily or regularly?

A. I read “Ninety Minutes in Heaven.” It’s a good book about a guy who has a bad automobile accident and is dead for about 90 minutes. I read a lot of journals and I love to read the Squawk Box.

Q. I’m up and going by? And what is your morning routine?

A. I get up around 5:30 or 6. During the school year it’s my duty to take the kids to school. During the summer it’s a little bit more relaxed. Coffee is a good part of my morning routine.

Q. What famous person would you like to meet, and Why?

A. This might upset some Georgia fans but if I could meet anybody it would be Peyton Manning. He prepares so well before all the games and he has a real good work ethic. When you see him in an interview he has this self-deprecating sense of humor. It just seems he would be a neat guy to hang out with.

Q. Favorite hobbies or activity outside work?

A. Outside of work you can usually find me with a fishing pole in my hand, everything from fly fishing to spinnerbaits for bass or what not. If there’s a puddle I’ll throw something in it and try to catch something out of it.

Q. Best thing about your job?

A. My interaction with the public and getting to help people. Usually they’re very grateful for that.

Q. Worst thing about your job?

A. Lately it’s been dealing with insurance companies regarding reimbursement. It’s just getting more and more challenging in healthcare.

Q. The most beneficial course I took in school was?

A. Anatomy. I do wish that I’d had some more business courses. An MBA or something would come in handy lots of times.

Q. What would be your dream job if you were able to pick a position outside your current career path?

A. I’d probably be a guide on a trout river somewhere. I’d enjoy that.

Q. Finish this thought; “on the first anniversary of my retirement, I see myself…

A. I’ll probably take a teaching position at a local university or something in that capacity. I just feel that would be important to me. I don’t know that I’ll ever truly retire.

Q. What is the one trait a strong business leader cannot afford to be without?

A. Flexibility, especially in healthcare right now. I think that continuously things just keep popping up and you’ve got to maneuver a maze to find out how to make your business viable.

Q. Crystal ball time: What’s your call on when the economic recovery for our area will be in full swing?

A. Hopefully sooner than later. I think that once Albany becomes more attractive to businesses that are looking to relocate I think things will improve. I truly feel that way.

Q. What kind of music might I find on your list of most played on your iPod?

A. I listen to everything from Mumford and Sons and Johnny Cash to the Foo Fighters. It’s pretty varied. You’ll find a bunch of different things on there.

Q. What do you think is the biggest change Albany will see in the next 10 years?

A. Well, hopefully a lot of businesses will move into the community and provide that economic boost that we need.

Q. What was the best vacation you’ve ever taken? Why?

A. This past year we went to Jackson Hole, Wyo. It wasn’t very hot. The kids loved it. They’d never been to the mountains before so it was a blast.

Q. What are the biggest changes you have seen in your specific line of business over the past few years?

A. Health care reform has been the biggest change. Currently patients have the choice to choose where they go for therapy. I hope that continues. Really, no one really knows what’s down the road. I do think healthcare reform needed to happen.