Did you have any specialty in mind when you entered medical school?
As I watch my own young kids dream of what they want to be when they grow up, it reminds me of when I dreamed of becoming a doctor around age 11. As I entered medical school, I saw myself becoming an OB-GYN, because my dad was an OB-GYN. And as a natural extrovert, it seemed to be a good fit. But as time went on during medical school, I gravitated toward pathology, because I love knowing a little bit about everything and solving problems for multiple subspecialities.
What attracted you to clinical lab and pathology work?
During residency, I quickly realized my love for the business side of medicine, and this seemed like a natural fit for the clinical laboratory. I also enjoyed the regulatory aspect of the lab. Being able to get into laboratory consulting early during my residency training prepared me to really understand how to improve quality and operations as a partner of the hospital team.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic most affected the way you manage lab operations?
When the pandemic hit, I remember the sheer volume of work necessary to bring testing into our hospitals. The first thing we did was take inventory of equipment, capacity and skill sets across our labs so we could operationalize testing. It was critical that we worked together not only within our own system, but with others. We were able to share equipment, reagents and capacity across the U.S., which was critical early in the pandemic. While it was far from perfect, this partnership across healthcare enabled us to diagnose patients and protect our healthcare workers.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I would say that I am focused on two things: accountability and team culture. It is critical to have a solid process to create goals for the year furthering our commitment to improving patient care and operations. Once those goals are set and prioritized, we must hold each other accountable, but in a way that supports each other. We all went into medicine because we wanted to make a difference, but what makes us stay is the people we work with every day.
What advice would you give to other emerging leaders?
Soak up every moment you get with mentors and take every opportunity that comes your way. I cannot thank the mentors I have had enough for helping me in my career. Also, know that you can’t accomplish everything in one day, one month or one year. It’s important to learn how to prioritize and take it one day at a time. When you are implementing new initiatives, don’t forget to get buy-in from key stakeholders, since it really does take a village to lead in a meaningful way. And lastly, continue to pay it forward to others along the way.