December 9, 2016
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This week's BOG Update is brought to you by A. Allen Seals, MD, FACC, Chair of the BOG.
Can a Retired General Teach America's Doctors to be Better Leaders?
My wife, Kim, and I recently had the pleasure of talking with Lt. General Mark Hertling (Ret) about physician leadership. His book, Growing Physician Leaders: Empowering Doctors to Improve our Healthcare, was brought to my attention through ACC staff. I had also heard of his work with physician groups at multiple institutions in central Florida affiliated with Florida Hospital (now the largest hospital system in Florida). We arranged a casual dinner meeting with the retired Lt. General and his wife in Orlando. I was so impressed by Lt. General Hertling and his book that I invited him to be a keynote speaker at the ACC 2017 Leadership Forum immediately preceding CV Summit and our next BOG Meeting (January 25-28, at the Hilton Bonnet Creek in Orlando).
My STRONG REQUEST TO EACH OF YOU IS TO READ THIS BOOK (Under $20 on Amazon) over the next four weeks to prepare for a robust discussion of the leadership concepts introduced by the Lt. General. It will be worth your time as it is a fantastic, informative read. Below is some background information about Lt. General Hertling, along with some words directly from the author about how he got involved in physician leadership.
Who is Retired Lt. General Mark Hertling?
Mark Phillip Hertling (born September 29, 1953) is a former United States Army officer. He served 37 years in the U.S. military and retired after serving as the Commanding General of U.S. Army Europe and the Seventh Army, serving in that position from March 25, 2011 until November 4, 2012, and retiring from the Army in December 2012. During his time as a U.S. soldier, Hertling served in Armor, Cavalry, planning, operations and training positions, and he commanded every organization from Platoon to Field Army. Most notably, he commanded the Army's 1st Armored Division and Task Force Iron/Multinational Division-North in Iraq during the surge of 2007-8.
In 2013, Hertling became a Senior Vice President for the innovative Florida Hospital organization in Orlando. While serving there he developed a successful Physician Leader Development course for that organization and in 2016 published the book Growing Physician Leaders.
Hospitals, clinics, and health care organizations across the nation are wondering, can we transform health care by improving physician leadership? And if so, how? Health care today faces both daunting challenges and exciting new possibilities. Physicians hold the key to improving health care, but while they enjoy exceptional training in the science of medicine, the vast majority of doctors have received little training in even the basics of leadership.
In Growing Physician Leaders, retired Army Lieutenant General Mark Hertling applies his four decades of military leadership to the world of health care, resulting in a profoundly constructive and practical book with the power to reshape and reenergize any health care organization in America today. Designed to help physicians master the art of leading people, it takes them, step-by-step, through a proven process that can help anyone become a more effective leader.
Growing Physician Leaders gives doctors a potent tool to improve their personal health, their professional health, their organizational health, and ultimately, our nation's health.
Question to the General: Your background is in the military, how did you get involved with physician leadership?
"It's a long story. I was commanding in Europe and happened to have a chance to attend a dinner hosted by an ambassador in Luxembourg after a Memorial Day service. There were a few people at my table from Florida Hospital. I had given a speech at this Memorial Day service. During the speech, the CEO of the hospital was sitting next to the ambassador, and he had just had a meeting with a few guys from Disney on an idea for a new initiative. It was different than physician leadership. He asked the guys from Disney who he should hire for this new initiative, they said you need to hire a retired general. This surprised our CEO. He asked, "Why should I do that," and they said, "Generals understand the scope and scale of large problems."
At dinner that night, [our CEO] told the ambassador that [I] was the kind of guy Disney told me to hire. The ambassador said, "Why don't you talk to him, he is retiring in a few months." It was a matter of serendipity. I had another job lined up, but they gave me a hard pitch to do this initiative.
Then, after I got here and started working, the guy in the office next to me was the organization's CMO. He used to come in every once and a while and shoot the bull and he'd ask me how I'd deal with a problem in the military that he was having in the hospital. He told me they were trying to develop a physician leadership based on some of the needs they were having. He asked if I could put something together. At that point I had only been there four months and was still getting to know healthcare. I said I'd give it a try anyway. After doing a preliminary analysis, seeing what programs were available at other organizations, with people allegedly teaching leadership but really just teaching business and management, I told him we could put a program together and do it differently, in terms of teaching pure leadership. [This would be] as opposed to teaching healthcare leadership or healthcare business. He bought off on it and about six months later we started the inaugural physician leadership development program at Florida Hospital.
It was me, designing, teaching it, and providing the output for about 50 combination doctors, nurses, and administrators. We started seeing success based on the things we're teaching. We were teaching the basics of leadership based on a military model. About halfway through the first year, it was apparent we hit on something that might work in our organization. We've now conducted five courses and a year ago, they asked me to put a book together. That's what the book is all about."