10 healthcare leaders share the best advice they received


This article originally appeared in Becker’s Hospital Review.

Becker’s Hospital Review asked healthcare leaders to share the best piece of advice they’ve ever received. Below are some of the tips they’ve received about communication, forgiveness, and integrity.

Fred Kniffin, MD
President of University of Vermont Health Network Porter Medical Center (Middlebury)

“The best advice I ever received was in my first week as hospital president. I had never been a hospital president, had not planned on being a hospital president, and frankly, was trying to figure out exactly what a hospital president is supposed to do. The organization was under all kinds of stress, operational and financial. I was given a short list of people to reach out to, one of whom was Al Gobeille, chairman of the Green Mountain Care Board [our regulator]. We chatted, and at the end, I asked, Chairman Gobeille, ‘Do you have any advice for me?’ He responded: ‘Take care of your people.’ I had expected financial advice, like take care of your margin. I asked him — did he mean our employees or our patients? He responded ‘yes.’

“I felt a huge sense of relief. Taking care of people, now this was something I could do. Anyone can do this, really. It was good advice to me back then and continues to be helpful advice to fall back on when times are tough. It aligns with our mission of caring for our community, one patient at a time.”

Jim Guyn, MD
Senior Vice President of Population Health at St. Charles Health System (Bend, Ore.)

“Many years ago, while I was new to my practice as a family practice physician, I was given a pearl of wisdom. It was: ‘The patient always knows what is wrong with them, you just have to ask the right questions.’ Initially, I thought it was a bit flippant. But as I gained more experience I realized how wise it really was. The more time spent asking questions, understanding the patient, gathering history, the more cost-effective and accurately I could establish a diagnosis. I think this applies to many other lines of problem-solving as well.”

Alan Kaplan, MD
CEO of UW Health (Madison, Wis.)

“Overall, life and leadership is so complex that there isn’t really one piece of advice that stands out above the others, but rather a collection of advice from multiple individuals over the course of time that mold who we are. However, a piece of advice that stands out that I often remember is someone I worked for once said to me to always remember that integrity is your most important asset. I think what’s most important about the advice is the realization that integrity transcends just being honest. It’s about consistency, predictability. Yes, honest is the baseline, but then you have to be approachable. You have to be consistent. You have to proactively communicate. You can’t put people in a position where they’re blindsided, and so it’s really not just a passive quality, but one you have to truly understand and actively make happen.”

Read the other pearls of wisdom by clicking here –> Becker’s Hospital Review