Perspectives

The path to leadership


 

Climbing through storms

Stepping into a medical director job forced me to grow into a completely new person. So maybe starting that role during pregnancy was a great metaphor!

Each day, there was immense pressure to perform, to deliver quality outcomes, and to simultaneously meet expectations of the C-suite as well as my hospitalist team. There was no room for failure, because too much was at stake.

Looking back today, I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. The medical director role was one of the most gratifying experiences in my life, and I am truly thankful for it.

A leader’s role truly boils down to working tirelessly to collaborate with different care teams. It’s important to care not only about our patients but also about our fellow hospitalists. We can do this by truly leading by example – be it picking up extra shifts, covering holidays so team members can be with family, or coming in at 10 p.m. to round with your night team.

I was also able to bring a unique perspective to the hospital C-suite meetings as a woman, an immigrant, and a true “mama bear” – not only of my infant son but also of my team.

The adult hospitalist group at Salem (Ore.) Health won the system's "Best Team Award" in 2016 for most improved quality outcomes, financial performance, and patient experience. Courtesy Dr. Swati Mehta

The adult hospitalist group at Salem (Ore.) Health won the system's "Best Team Award" in 2016 for most improved quality outcomes, financial performance, and patient experience.

My first year as a medical director required more commitment and heart than I could have imagined. But all this hard work paid off when our hospitalist group received the coveted Best Team Award for most improved quality outcomes, financial performance, and patient experience.

The summit is the beginning

My first medical director job fueled my passion for patient satisfaction even further. I now serve as the director of patient experience for the more than 4,200 clinicians at Vituity. Together we care for more than 6.5 million lives a year across the country.

In 2019, I coached 300 physicians and hospital leaders on communication, collaboration, and service recovery skills, leading to significant improvement in their HCAHPS scores. I was delighted to receive the Vituity Distinguished Service Award for my contributions. It’s such an honor to be instrumental in impacting patient care at a larger scale.

This year, I was invited to serve as vice chair of the Society for Hospital Medicine’s patient experience committee and to join the executive board of the SHM San Francisco chapter. Together, we have created a COVID-19 patient communication resource and reached out to our hospitalists to provide them with a space to share their stories during this pandemic. I am so excited to share my knowledge and passion with clinicians across the country given the wide reach of Vituity & SHM!

Many hospitalists shy away from leadership roles. The mountain is tough to scale, but the view from the top is worth it. The key is to start, even if you don’t feel ready. I am here to tell you it can be done!

Dr. Mehta is a hospitalist and director of quality & performance and patient experience at Vituity in Emeryville, Calif. She is vice chair of the SHM patient experience committee and executive board member of the SHM San Francisco Bay Area chapter.

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