Frank and Cindy Franklin


Frank + CIndy Franklin

The Franklins discuss not planning your future, meeting inevitable forks in the road, and adjusting to change.

Have some opportunity for creativity. You also have to have a fair amount of humor in your life.
— Frank

Frank: I think one of the great mistakes in life is to assume that you can at all plan your future. There are things that you can do to position yourself for a future, but the key is to acquire a set of skills that can transfer into any kind of positions you'll take. That's like when I teach, I don't try to teach for the content. I just gave a course on cardiovascular disease from cells to society. It isn't for them to learn the content. A lot of them will go off to medical school and the content will change over the years. It's to teach them critical thinking skills, oral written and communication, how to think about levels in society. Those are skills that will always work for you.

You go where there are opportunities offered to you. Opportunities present themselves and you do it. You go more with your gut or your heart than you ever do with you brain. You can't control this process. To, me the stupidest question that you can ask somebody is, "What would you like to do in five years?" You have no control over that. That's a stupid question.

Cindy: And as you go along, there will always be a fork in the road. So you choose one or the other. You may go down one and think, "Oh! This is crap. Why did I do this?" You can't back track. You just make lemonade. If you got yourself a lemon, then you make lemonade and then it forks off into another way. Sometimes you look back and wonder what would have happened if you'd chosen the other path. You can make it sound like you would have been better off, but it's not true. It would’ve had its own set of problems.

Frank: Yea and Steve Jobs gave a great commencement speech at Stanford a number of years ago. He said something that is absolutely true. "Life only makes sense in retrospect." You look back and it looks like you did have a plan or a story. You really didn't. You do that all along your career.

I have a tendency to go with the flow. Whatever happens happens.
— Cindy
He said something that is absolutely true. ‘Life only makes sense in retrospect.’ You look back and it looks like you did have a plan or a story. You really didn’t. You do that all along your career.
— Frank

How have you adjusted to change?

Cindy: I have a tendency to go with the flow. Whatever happens happens. Frank decided he wanted to come here so I said okay. There weren't any jobs that fit what I like to do here. I'm a pediatric nurse practitioner and when we moved down here, Birmingham, Alabama was literally backwards. I was accustomed to working as a nurse practitioner in clinics where we basically had free reign. When I worked in Baltimore the laws changed so that nurse practitioners could write prescriptions like doctors. I could've set up my own practice. I worked at John Hopkins and the doctor there would send residents to us to get trained. I was accustomed to making my own decision, signing my own charts, writing my own prescriptions. When we moved here, I learned that it's not like that. I wanted to work in rural medicine, but if a sick child came to the clinic, I would have to send them to the emergency room or to a doctor. Things are much better now. A lot of doctors are working with nurse practitioners, but that was 27 or 28 years ago. It worked out great though because when he would have medical meetings to go to, I could travel with him.

Frank: Sometimes you're out of sync with where the world is going. You're ahead of the world. For Cindy to train as a pediatric nurse practitioner in 1970, her biggest fights were with nurses and some doctors who couldn't accept that role that she had. Cindy was clearly way ahead of the wave. Now there are seven or eight thousand nurse practitioners beings trained a year. When Cindy was training there probably weren't but like fifteen people. There were three in her class and some over in like Colorado. Those were about the only two programs at that time.

Cindy: And why did I do it? There was another one of those crossroads.