Leigh Johnson, MD, MPH
East Tennessee State University
Describe what you/your faculty/department/program/clinic did that demonstrated that family physicians are leaders in health systems.
I was chosen by the Vice President of Clinical Affairs to take on the role of Director of COVID Response for our university and health system. In this role, I interface with leaders of other local health systems, as well as administrators at the university to coordinate our COVID response. I've worked in areas such as housing, athletics, facilities, campus recreation, as well as a testing protocol for the campus, and quarantine/isolation protocols across the entire system.
How did you communicate with health systems leaders during the process?
I participated in calls with leaders across the region several times per week (the frequency has varied depending on the severity of the pandemic in our region). I also participate in weekly Zoom meetings with leaders of multiple teams and areas across the university. Of course, we also communicate frequently by email, phone, and text.
What type of feedback have you received about your efforts?
Overall the feedback has been positive. It seemed to me that our university and health community were suffering from information overload, as well as a response that took some months to become well-coordinated. When I took on this role, many colleagues expressed relief that they had a "point person" to whom they could direct questions. I enjoyed answering the questions that I could, or connecting people with the right resources if I did not have the answer they needed.
What type of impact do you think this will have on your health systems leaders’ perception of family medicine?
I hope that leaders at my institution and in our region will see that a family physician is well-poised to think critically, manage multiple problems at one time, and see complex scenarios from a patient-centered lens. Additionally, I think they will see that it was family medicine who stepped up in a moment of crisis to volunteer resources, underscoring our critical role in health systems.
What type of advice would you give to other family physicians or family medicine faculty about helping health systems leaders see the value of family medicine?
My advice is to look for opportunities to collaborate and lead, and consider saying yes when a unique opportunity is presented. Being willing to work with diverse individuals with many different styles is a skill set often demonstrated by Family Physicians; putting these skills on display will naturally help health systems leaders see our value.