“It wasn’t really what I wanted to do with my career,” he said, “but I was advised by my chair and a couple of the other deans that it was a good opportunity and I would learn a lot.” He figured he would do it to help out, then discovered he liked it. “I enjoyed the organizing, the consensus building, and the opportunity to make things better,” he said.
Explore This IssueFebruary 2018
Dr. Stewart subsequently held various dean’s office positions at Baylor. After a few years at Cornell, he became a dean when a senior dean retired, and he has since been on the board of the Triological Society, the American Academy of Otolaryngology, and the American Rhinologic Society. He is currently president of the American Board of Otolaryngology. These are all part-time roles for Dr. Stewart, who still enjoys maintaining his clinical practice.
Continuing to practice can be an important part of being a good physician leader. Often the biggest asset a physician leader has is the ability to act as an interpreter and clinical educator for an administrative staff who may not understand the clinical nuances involved in various situations confronting medical institutions.
“It’s important to be in the trenches and to live what a day-to-day clinician feels, because that’s what guides my decisions to advocate,” said Terry Tsue, MD, vice president and physician-in-chief at the University of Kansas Cancer Center, vice chairman for the Administrative Affairs department of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery at the University of Kansas School of Medicine, and vice president of physician services at the University of Kansas Health System.
Dr. Tsue started out with leadership roles in his department and rose through the academic ranks, making significant changes to the education format. This strong leadership caught the eye of his institution, and he was asked to run the university’s school of graduate medical education, which led to his being named vice president at the school’s cancer center. He continues to perform surgery one day per week and sees patients for a few hours per week in the clinic.
Dream Big and Explore Your Options
For those who know they would like to be administrators, it’s never too soon to start imagining the possibilities. “Dream big and pursue your dreams with all of your heart and soul,” said Carol Bradford, MD, MS, executive vice dean for academic affairs at the University of Michigan Medical School. “I have two grown kids and I think the advice I have given my children would be the same as the advice I would have for learners, faculty and staff. Go for it. Don’t let anyone say you can’t do it.”