To recap where we left off in part one, March 8, 2020 is International Women’s Day. To celebrate, SCP Health (SCP) is profiling seven female leaders who have made an impact on our company and our culture. In part one, we found out why these women love their work, what their paths were to their current roles, and how being a woman has shaped their career experiences.
Read on for part two of the interview—and Happy International Women’s Day!
WORDS TO LIVE BY: What has helped you succeed, and what advice would you give to others?
Integrity. Do what you say and say what you do. Stand behind your words and stand behind your team. For both yourself and your team, reinforce this: when you don’t know what to do, do the right thing. That’s all you can do. After that, we’ll figure out the impact and handle each difficult situation together.
First, no matter where you are in your career, consider mentorship and partnership. If you are early on, look for someone who you can trust and rely on to mentor you. If you are later in your career, look for opportunities to show someone else the ropes. And all throughout, be willing to partner with those around you to further your knowledge and success.
My second thought is in reference to what I said earlier about making firm choices, staying present, and doing your best in each facet of life. It’s something my mother used to say to me: “Sometimes, no is a complete answer.” While there is a lot you’ll want or need to say yes to, sometimes you will want or need to turn something down. In those times, you don’t have to explain yourself away. Say no and be confident in what you’ve chosen.
Lastly, in leadership I’ve found success in this view: my job as a leader is to set a goal, clearly communicate it, and get out of your way to let you navigate how to get to that goal. I give guidance on the what. The how is you. I get barriers out of your way (broken processes, stalled decisions). My role is to plow the road so that the team can excel.
I have a few words or ideas that have helped guide me.
I spent some time feeling unsure or underqualified for positions I was offered, but I realized that you don’t need to be 100% prepared. If you’re asked to step into a space and it’s an opportunity that you want, try it! Say yes. Be willing to ask for the right resources, and then do your best. As you go on throughout your career, you’ll realize everyone else is kind of doing that too—'learning on the job.’ So, I just take the information I have, apply it the best I can, and learn from every situation.
As I grew into leadership positions, I also realized that leadership specifically is not taught very well during physician training. The majority of the time, when it is included, it still has a “top-down” perspective—and I think that is part of healthcare’s Achilles heel. In both clinical and operational areas, collaboration is key. Positive outcomes are often missed because we don’t have a leadership practice in place that empowers all clinicians and shows them how to excel as a team. Leaders need to be experts in each team member’s strengths and work with them toward success. We offer them the right opportunities, encourage them to “say yes”, then get out of the way and let them grow.
Finally, being successful at all levels—but particularly in leadership—is about bridging gaps. Every department, specialty, and field of expertise has its own language. In healthcare terms, we must learn the HCAHPS of each different group that we work with and figure out what is meaningful to them—then use that to partner with them more effectively.
My number one phrase to live by is: have your running shoes on. Be all in, bring your A game, and give what you have when you’re at work.
Some other ideas that I talk to my team about frequently are:
- If you’re new to the workforce, new to an industry, or new to a company, it’s important to find somebody you can learn from and bounce ideas off of. Depending on your career phase and company, this can be anything from a formal mentor to simply a wise, trustworthy colleague.
- Come into each day knowing your bar for success. Fill in the blank of this sentence: ‘If I get nothing else done today but ____, I will have had a successful day.’ Then, make sure you stick to that. If it’s something you dread, do it first. If it’s something that takes dedicated time to be thoughtful and strategic, make sure you proactively carve that time out.
- Focus on internal customer service in the same way that you do external. When you’re getting questions and requests in from various angles, get a feel for the big picture, learn how to triage, and most importantly: communicate. Nobody expects you to get everything done in a day—but you have to give timelines, set expectations, and not ignore things. If no deadline is set, don’t assume that there is no deadline. Ask “when do you need it by” and maybe follow up with “And why is that?” Be open and be respectful of your colleagues, just like you would if they were external clients.
Do what you love. Find something you would do for nothing. Pick your passion and enjoy the ride. Try to make a difference in what you care about. Keep going, growing, and stretching. Remember that doing what you love isn’t about easy, it’s about worth it.
Be present in whatever you’re doing and set boundaries for yourself to preserve your well-being and stay true to your priorities.
As a leader of technology professionals, I’ve learned that most of them are like me in that they want to know why they are doing the work that they are doing—they want to be connected and be part of the solution. This means giving them opportunities, coaching them to come to their own answer, and empowering them to use the body of knowledge that they have to find better solutions or see new areas for change. This also means working hard to position them as a partner and expert for other teams to work with. Every group has a perspective to offer on issues or projects, and we are most effective in finding success when we connect, hear each other, and work together toward a common goal.
I do have a few thoughts that guide me—first of which is to be okay with not always being perfect. As women, we easily fall into the habit of saying “YES!” to everything because we think that if jump at any opportunity that we’re given and do a really good job that we will feel fulfilled—but that isn’t really helpful for us or the people we are saying yes to. Be honest where you’re at in your journey—sometimes you’ll have the capacity for more and sometimes you’ll have to step back. I love social events, so I make time for that in my life—it's okay to have fun! I have an autistic son, and there were certain seasons with him that I couldn’t have taken on more at work—it’s okay to pick your family first. I had been very active on a nonprofit board, but when I was promoted to CFO, I had to step back—it’s okay to take the space you need. Evaluate where you are month to month, phase to phase, etc—priorities will change and you will change—that's just life!
Second, as an ambitious person working to move up, I always tried to perform the role that I wanted—to work as though I was at the next level. Observe what others in higher positions are doing—both positive and negative—and use that to inform who you want to be. Form good relationships in each role, and be collaborative. Then, when the time comes when they need someone to take a step up, you’ve proven that you’re ready for both the tasks and the responsibility.
Lastly, if you’re stepping into leadership—especially executive leadership—and you have had many predecessors, be bold in resetting expectations and paving your own path. Learn from both the success and mistakes of the past—and be willing to do things differently even if its awkward at first.
MEMORIES: What moments in your career made you feel most fulfilled, excited, or proud?
Dr. Rachel George
At a system I used to work for, we started an opioid use policy, including removing almost all Dilaudid from our ERs. This was long before it was a well-known issue as it is today, so I am proud that we were ahead of our time and thankful that it impacted so many lives. It felt so important.
I also value any time that I was able to take a team on a journey and grow a hospital medicine program. For example, I was once asked to take over a region that was failing. It had a 40% physician vacancy rate & very low morale. My team worked so hard to turn that all around, and ultimately succeeded in achieving high physician retention rates, profitability, and more.
In a past job, I did a lot of work in planning for and launching new hospitals, which involved a huge amount of time and preparation. But watching a new facility open its doors and envisioning all that’s to come is a really exciting and wonderful experience.
Another exciting point was when I helped develop the first multitier PPO product for Kaiser Permanente. Our team worked hard on it and it was a complex project, involving significant cultural and workflow changes for the organization. When I got to present it on stage at the launch meeting to 400 brokers, it was incredible to see it come to fruition.
Dr. Noah Hoskins
One project I absolutely love happened when I was a teaching attending. I helped our program medical director start an open-access, free, online community hospital residency-based journal and case review series. It was important because it highlighted the excellent work that community hospitals were doing. It was innovative because it was all electronic when everything else was paper, required membership or was institutional based. We worked so hard on it—and it was so fun!
Two ideas that aren’t really moments, but more ongoing themes are:
- I really love patient experience and physician development—I am up for anything that involves that type of work. For example, I was once able to participate in book/journal club with medical directors across a region which was really wonderful.
- I remember so many moments where individuals that I’ve been coaching or working with have had ‘aha!’ moments. Watching that happen, knowing that it comes through a lot of work and focus, is fantastic and fulfilling!
I like to say that I have “gone through war” with a lot of people—as in, I have fought, worked, and sweat side-by-side them toward a common goal. Through these times, I’ve really gotten to know and learn from their unique talents, personalities, and resilience. So odd as it maybe, some of favorite moments have been some of the most challenging ones and the camaraderie that has come out of them.
Dr. Beverly Gladney
Anytime you save a life, there truly is just nothing like it. The teamwork that’s involved, the huge sense of relief…it’s amazing.
I’m also proud of the time I spent handling and accomplishing personal and professional at once in medical school, residency, and the early years of my physician career. I’m not sure how I did it, but that was a really big and transformative time.
The application we developed for all our SCP Health providers—mySCP—is one of my biggest professional wins. It’s a perfect demonstration of when our team and another team had varying perspectives on how to solve an issue, which in this case was the need to improve our ability to communicate with providers. Instead of clashing, we figured out what really mattered and worked together to get to an excellent solution. Ultimately, this led to a fantastically accessible and user-friendly application that not only enhances communication with providers, but maintains credentials, gives schedule access, and sends important company update notifications.
Hands down my favorite moment was the day I was offered the CFO job. I was not expecting it at all—in fact I was helping with the selection of someone new after my predecessor stepped down. I remember everything about that day—what I was wearing, what I said, how it felt. It really was this moment of achieving a goal that I had held for so many years—and there is no way to describe how amazing it was to experience that dream become a reality.
Don’t forget, if you missed part one of the interviews, you can read them here.
SCP Health is proud to have a diverse workforce that is inclusive of all genders, races, nationalities, ethnicities, orientations, statuses, ages, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies. If you’re interested in joining our team or working with us, please explore our job openings or contact our business development team.