Message from the Regent|
by Fred T. Brown, Jr., FACHE
One important thing that I learned as I matured as a healthcare administrator and as a person is that you need to know what you do not know. I realize that this may sound a bit weird but as I look back on my career and as I help network with people who are going through career transitions, I am more than ever convinced that it is a truth that should help us all. Know what you do not know.
I started running hospitals in the era of cost based reimbursement. I had a couple of courses in financial management and the hospital was financially strapped so I worked on my own cost reports. As I looked back, I am sure I would be amazed at how much this probably cost the hospital. (I hope the statute of limitations has run out).
When I was young and eager, I often would take on projects in areas where I had little knowledge or experience. Although they generally went well, I realize now that I often had accessible expertise in my organization or through several senior executives that over time became my mentors. Would these projects have been more successful? I am not sure, but I often wonder.
Turnover at the CEO level in our state is just over three years of service. Over a third of our hospitals are losing money as we speak. Would these facts be different if more of us understood when we needed to seek expertise or to learn new skills? I know that it is easy to sometimes get into a comfort level and suddenly realize that the world has changed and you have not changed with it.
In my case it took maturing and even being involved in a couple of wars to figure out that as good as I thought I was as a leader, I needed help and new expertise to become a better one. It is hard to say “I don’t know”… especially in a meeting with your peers or your boss. This however may sometimes be the best answer for you and the organization.
How do you know what you do not know? First, find a mentor that has a broad perspective. Ask questions and for advice. One of my mentors was former AHA Chair Tom Matherlee. I would listen to Tom talk about what was important to him at hospital association meetings. I realized that not only did I not know much about what he talked about, but often times these topics were not even on my radar screen!
Second, seek ways to stay up to date. Read your journals, stay involved with your Hospital Association or other associations and keep active in ACHE. Join a chapter. If you are a senior executive, volunteer to speak or work with younger members.
Know what you do not know.
|Thursday, November 6, 2008
THEF Annual Dinner Meeting
See article for more information