4 CMOs from top US hospitals on the best advice they've received 

Medical chiefs from four of US News & World Report's best hospitals or health systems recently spoke with Becker's Hospital Review about the best advice they've received. 

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

Amy Williams, MD. Executive Dean of Practice at Mayo Clinic (Rochester, Minn.):  The best piece of advice I have received throughout my career is twofold: building and supporting highly functioning teams and valuing the contributions of all. Effective and engaged teams develop through honest, transparent, frequent, diverse and inclusive communication. It’s about building trust by creating a safe environment for critical conversations and empowering individual team members to feel comfortable challenging assumptions and decisions. When the hierarchy is flattened and contributions are valued, teams become creative and innovative. 

Mayo Clinic was successful during COVID-19 because our teams worked to tackle acute situations while sharing and improving processes and functions along the way. Our decision-making was simplified because we trusted that the teams and their leaders would do the right thing based on their knowledge, expertise and values. Blending the unique talents of individuals resulted in exceptional collaboration and allowed us to be successful in caring for our patients while also facing and meeting the many challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Effective teamwork enabled us to keep our staff, visitors and patients safe.  

Deepa Kumaraiah, MD, Chief Medical Officer at NewYork-Presbyterian (New York CIty): Always put the patient first: When navigating a complex problem between stakeholders  — you will never make the wrong decision and almost always gain consensus when you ask teams what is best for the patient.   

Be flexible. On a personal level, every career opportunity has come from taking on roles that were not on a preconceived career path that led to different/unexpected/exciting opportunities.

Robert Cherry, MD. Chief Medical and Quality Officer at UCLA Health: A mentor once told me; 'When you are thinking about trying something new or innovative, pay attention to what people are not talking or writing about, and that is where you will find your direction.'

Saadia Sherwani, MD. Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at Northwestern Memorial Hospital (Chicago): Working in a large, complex health system, it is important to remind yourself about what gives you purpose and meaning. On a daily basis, we have stressors and distractors that can easily shift our attention from the higher purpose and send us down rabbit holes. Reminding ourselves of the meaning and purpose of our roles is restorative, and it creates energy to help us refocus on why we do what we do.

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