Gastroenterologist, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina
What was your involvement in the MSC?
Chief Operating Officer 2004-2005, EVP Leadership Development and Service 2003-2004, MSC ALOT Group Leader 2002-2003, MSC ALOT member 2001-2002
What does a day in your life look like currently?
As the sole gastroenterologist at Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune, I'm charged with leading the GI department and making sure that we are always available to handle any GI emergency for our region. I'm proud that we've been able to do this with fewer personnel and more limited resources. We have had to dramatically change our clinical practice model due to the social distancing requirements for COVID-19. We've gone to a nearly 100% telemedicine model for outpatient visits, trying to maintain contact with our patients without exposing them to the risks of the coronavirus. It has been especially challenging since a lot of our hospital staff are deployed to other parts of the country helping the relief effort in some of the coronavirus "hot spots."
The MSC helps build leaders by providing opportunities to improve skills such as critical thinking, active listening, giving and receiving feedback, and others. What skills did you gain in your involvement with the MSC and how did your time as a student leader prepare you for your role during this challenging and unforeseen time?
Through my MSC experiences, I learned that the best plans don't always win. Often, the plans that succeed are those that are able to adapt to a rapidly changing situation. While it's important to plan strategically, it's equally important to be able to change that plan in a moment's notice if the situation changes. It's also critically important to create a team culture that is adaptable and cohesive. If you wait until a crisis arises to work on your team culture, you waited too long. My team has been able to adapt and overcome because we've spent a long time training together, learning together, and becoming a more cohesive unit. It requires leadership to achieve that, and that starts long before any crisis arises.
If you were to return to your time in the MSC, what skills would you personally focus on strengthening, especially in your current situation?
I would focus on delegating. That was one of the hardest things for me to learn. I tend to want to take on all challenges myself and not pawn work off on others. What I've come to learn in the last 15 years is that I'm not always the best suited to handle a particular task, so by not delegating the task I may be limiting the success of the team. Also, failure to delegate prevents the personal growth and development of my team members. Being able to delegate to trusted team members in the current situation is invaluable.
The MSC core values are Respect, Excellence, Leadership, Loyalty, Integrity, Service and Diversity. What core value best describes the work you do today?
Each of the core values are important. I can't think how I would even choose one. Imagine a wheel with seven spokes representing each of the seven core values. If one was missing, you'd have a misshapen, non-functional wheel. You can't function without all of them. You can't even be weak in one of them. You have to have them all.
What is one of your favorite memories from being involved in the MSC?
During my junior year, I was part of the core team tasked with designing a new organizational structure for the MSC Council. It was an amazing experience to be a part of constructing a strategic vision for such a large and complex organization. That structure lasted for 10 more years, which is quite a legacy.
What else would you like to share about the MSC?
If anyone is serious about being a leader in their future industry, get involved and stay involved in the MSC! My time there was formative in a way that I couldn't get any other way. I'm a great physician by virtue of my medical training, but all of my business leadership skills came from my time in the MSC. Thank you to the MSC staff and students that spent so much of their time and energy training me to be a leader. I'll never forget it!