When I began my career some 25 years ago, my measure of success was pretty simple: take better care of my patients. The average emergency medicine clinician will treat 75,000 patients over a 25-year career. That’s a staggering number of lives to touch.
At some point early in my career, I realized there were different ways to serve patients. For me, it began as helping to establish a pediatric emergency department where none existed. So instead of impacting 3,000 patients a year, I’ve helped influence the care of over 15,000 children by building a better system of care at one hospital.
As you progress in your personal leadership journey you begin to see other opportunities to care for patients. Medical directors have an impact far beyond their individual patient care by improving how patients are treated in the community. They also have an obligation to make caring for those patients more enjoyable and less stressful – as much as is practical. As a medical director, your personal satisfaction becomes about how well your department serves its community.
If you are a physician leader who moves beyond responsibility for just a single location, the opportunities expand and so do the challenges. Developing and defining a system of care that can extend to new geographic areas multiplies the level of complexity. Perhaps that is the reason why few organizations grow past one location.
Imagine now you are impacting the lives of 4 million patients at 120 locations across a country. What does it take to make that a high functioning organization? Let’s add a little more complexity: how do you unite six separate companies – all successful – coming together to form this new organization?
This is both the challenge and the opportunity as we build ONE USACS.
The challenges before us are clear, as are the opportunities. We have brought together six premier emergency medicine groups across the country to form a single integrated acute care powerhouse with one mission: to care for patients.
Since the path we travel has not been tread before, we will have the challenge and opportunity to define it. We will make mistakes and learn from them. We will visit places no one has been before, and when we pause to see the vista, it will be breathtaking. But, we’ll only pause for a moment as 4 million people are counting on us to help redefine health care.
That obligation is what propels us forward, higher up the mountain. Each one of us has a role to play in this journey. I can’t think of a more significant way to spend a life’s work in service to others.