Memorial Hermann's Dr. Angela Shippy on why she keeps an album of thank-you notes on her desk

Angela Shippy, MD, is a veteran of Memorial Hermann Health System in Houston, and she took on her expanded role as senior vice president, chief medical and quality officer, in February.

Dr. Shippy's expanded role came with her promotion to CMO. She served as chief quality officer prior to the promotion. 

Before joining Memorial Hermann, Dr. Shippy served as CMO of Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA Healthcare's Gulf Coast division.   

Dr. Shippy told Becker's she's excited about being in healthcare today and the transformation she sees happening in the industry. She shared her greatest challenge as a female leader, discussed how she relaxes and revealed how she stays inspired on hard days. 

Editor's note: Responses have been edited lightly for length and clarity.

Question: Who had the biggest influence on your decision to go into healthcare?

Dr. Angela Shippy: It is not so much as who, but what. The opportunity to help people was truly the biggest influence on my decision to go into healthcare. Like many in this profession, I've always wanted to help, and I saw the impact that knowledge and good health made in empowering people, their choices and their lives. Early in my career, practicing as a hospitalist, I witnessed firsthand how difficult it was for patients to navigate the complexities of receiving care across many venues and providers, regardless of resources. This was before electronic health records and integrated delivery networks that now make it easier. I took great pride in trying to simplify or help navigate for those 25 patients I would lay hands on every day. When I had the opportunity to be a member of the hospital leadership team, I was motivated by the prospect of having a greater reach by helping to optimize the clinical and operational challenges for both providers and patients.

Q: What do you enjoy most about being in the industry?

AS: Again, it's the people in this industry and the overarching mission to provide care to treat and/or eliminate pain and suffering that is most compelling. This means I have the opportunity to work alongside extremely smart and compassionate people who are striving to bring new ideas and solutions. What we do every day has changed dramatically in my 25 years in the industry. And what I have witnessed in the fight against COVID-19 makes me excited about the pace of change and transformation we will see going forward.

Q: What is the greatest challenge you face as a female leader?

AS: What is most challenging is being thought of as a female leader. As a leader I have amassed knowledge and experience alongside colleagues who are male, female, Black, White, Asian, Indian, Native American and LGBTQ. We all have similar paths and credentials to be in leadership roles at this level. Where we differ is on perspective and approach. That is why organizations must be inclusive and have diverse views and voices at the table. Those organizations that understand and leverage diversity and inclusion will have a strategic advantage.

Q: How do you relax outside of the C-suite?

AS: I enjoy having quiet time to clear my mind and spending time with family and friends. What has changed significantly for me this year is truly appreciating being in these moments.

Q: How do you stay inspired on hard days?

AS: About 12 years ago, I started keeping thank-you notes and putting them in a decorative album on my desk. They are incredibly inspiring and range from young physicians or folks early in their career who had an opportunity to round or shadow with me, extremely grateful patients and their families for clinical care I directly delivered or facilitated or colleagues who are genuinely thankful for the input I provided for a project. I find those to be very inspiring because at the end of the day I do what I do because of the impact that it has on others.

Q: What is your daily mantra?

AS: Every day I get up with the expectation I will do meaningful work and positively impact the lives of others. Since college, I have a favorite quote from [French biologist, microbiologist, and chemist] Louis Pasteur, "In the fields of observation, chance favors only the prepared mind." Meaning if I am prepared and open, I will be ready for any new opportunities or challenges.  

Q: What do you consider your greatest career success?

AS: My greatest success is the impact I have had in the lives of others. Every patient who recovered, every family that gained greater understanding, students who boldly started their premed journey, residents who changed how they practiced medicine, or colleagues who genuinely wanted to collaborate and innovate are the greatest successes and why I keep the album I mentioned above on my desk.


More articles on leadership and management:
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