If you’re like I was, you may wonder what it would be like to push yourself toward greater challenges and diversity in your medical career. Perhaps you wonder if you missed a great opportunity when you chose not to do an administrative fellowship right out of residency. Well, it’s not too late to consider one now. Fellowships aren’t just for new attendings.
I was an Assistant ED Medical Director with several years of experience when I became a Vituity Administrative Fellow in 2016. That whirlwind year taught me that I still had endless room to grow. Over the last few years, my career has moved forward further and faster than I ever could have imagined!
Before applying for Vituity’s Administrative Fellowship in Emergency Medicine, I was helping to start a geriatric ED at Saint Agnes Hospital in Baltimore and realized that while I was great at practicing medicine, I wanted to find more ways to get involved and develop as a leader.
My year-long fellowship program provided a wealth of hands-on business and leadership training through classroom instruction, mentoring and attending leadership and committee meetings, educational events, and learning collaboratives. Being a fellow showed me the depth of expertise and resources available to me as a leader. It also let me immerse myself in Vituity culture and witness firsthand how the organization’s leaders put patients at the center of every decision.
My mentors cared about me as a person, helped me multiply my strengths, and showed me what I could bring to the Partnership. They encouraged me to use all the resources I was offered to create a toolkit that would support geriatric ED startups for my fellowship project.
I figured I’d enjoy my fellowship experience and hopefully become a Medical Director in a year or two. So what happened next was a happy surprise.
In 2016, as I completed my fellowship, Vituity received an RFP from Mount Carmel St. Ann’s health system in Columbus, Ohio, not all that far from Baltimore. After a recent expansion, their ED was serving a larger region and seeing 73,000 visits a year.
Because of my interest and new skills in leadership, our business development executives invited me to get involved. I sat in on many of the meetings with hospital administrators as they shared their vision and goals. While St. Ann’s had many strengths, leaders were keen to take their performance metrics to the next level. They were impressed by what Vituity had accomplished for other hospitals. As we signed a contract, I was thrilled to be appointed incoming medical director!
Our contract with St. Ann’s officially started in the summer of 2017. However, the incoming Medical Director, Regional Director, Advanced Provider Site Leads, and Vituity Practice Management Consultants visited the hospital months ahead of time to lay the groundwork. St. Ann’s already had a good working relationship between medicine and nursing, and most of the existing providers joined Vituity, which really helped with continuity and kept the department humming along through the transition.
But even an ideal startup is a lot of work. I think it’s safe to say I’m using all of the skills I learned in my fellowship. As Medical Director, I meet regularly with St. Ann’s administrators, nursing leadership, and the heads of various departments with the goal of fostering a sense of ownership across the ED team. The ED can’t function in isolation. We absolutely have to work with other departments in order to deliver seamless care. The more we communicate about what we’re doing for patients, the more efficient we are, and the safer we are.
My job involves building supportive relationships, implementing efficiency programs, and modeling the Vituity culture. We show the team what trust, respect, and transparency look like in action. And as medical director, it’s important for me to model servant leadership. Because if I’m not willing to come in and work overtime or overnight, I can’t ask anyone else to do it.
I’m filled with gratitude for all my fellowship has given me. Without it and the preparation it provided, I don’t think I’d be here at St. Ann’s serving as a medical director. I wouldn’t get the joy of mentoring a medical staff and helping them understand the strengths they bring to the table.
Could an administrative fellowship be right for you? If you’re interested in growing as a leader and learning the business of medicine, you should definitely check it out. Vituity’s private fellowships give fellows the chance to take on critical projects tackling important issues like quality, risk management, advocacy, and continuing education.
This post originally appeared at FeminEM.org. First published on the Vituity blog August 9, 2018.