WHAT GOT YOU STARTED ON THE PATH TO HEALTHCARE LEADERSHIP?
I had aunts who were nurses, grandmothers who were nurses. I have an aunt who was a CEO of a hospital in rural Mississippi. I had the opportunity to visit her at work and see what they were able to do in really impacting patients’ lives. It allowed me an opportunity to think about where I wanted to be.
I grew up in and around healthcare. My dad (a community physician) was a volunteer in so many ways that I got pulled into working in the health department, working at Planned Parenthood, things like that. … Getting into executive leadership for me came when I had opportunities to do some work for people (at Stanford and Yale-New Haven) who were important mentors, who were very strategic and very committed to evolving with healthcare.
I never aspired to be a top leader or aspired to be a CEO. I started off, actually, at Ernst & Young in auditing and consulting and then went to work for one of my clients in healthcare. I thought it was very interesting; I thought it was a very complex industry and most importantly, it had a higher purpose of helping people. … At the end of the day, you were there to serve people and there to help people, and that’s really what was interesting to me.
DR. DONALD BERWICK
(At) Harvard Unity Health Plan, which was my first real job in leadership, I was put in charge of quality of care. And the HMO had a program that they worked out with Harvard Business School in which we got training one day a month for several years. It was eye-opening. So, I was just lucky. I got into a couple of positions where people took me under their wing and taught me some stuff I didn’t know.