Dr. Jill Kalman 1 year into being Northwell Health's 1st female chief medical officer 

Jill Kalman, MD, was appointed the first female chief medical officer for New Hyde Park, N.Y.-based Northwell Health on Oct. 20, 2021.  

Dr. Kalman also serves as the system's senior vice president and chief medical officer and deputy physician-in-chief. 

Nearly a year into the role, she sat down with Becker's to discuss her roots, greatest accomplishments and what the future holds for her at Northwell. 

Question: What piqued your interest in healthcare?

Dr. Jill Kalman: As you can imagine, I'm often asked, "Why did you become a doctor?" It really began when I was in junior high school and I dissected a frog in my ninth grade biology class. Mr. Giordano's class at Herricks Junior High in Long Island, he brought the frog out after having prepared it in the back, and half the people ran away. I was one of those people who just dove right in and was so excited to really do something from that. I would say from that point forward we concluded my love of science and biology in general. But that [experience] started my interest in healthcare and really my desire to drive my career. First through science and then through other things.

Q: What has been your biggest accomplishment thus far? Whether it be in your career in general or at Northwell?

JK: I would say my biggest accomplishment thus far is my family. I'm very proud of my family, my children, and my grandchildren.

But, in terms of my career in general, I think to a lot of things. I was the executive director of Lenox Hill Hospital during the height of the pandemic, [which] was really probably my biggest accomplishment, as terrifying as it was. I'm very proud of how we performed as a hospital, performed together, took care of our patients and took care of each other. 

The other would be I am now the first woman chief medical officer of the Northwell Health System, and I'm very proud I've attained this level in my career.

Q: If you could eliminate one of the healthcare industry's problems overnight, what would it be and why?

JK: I think of a couple of things, but the cost of care is something that really is so utterly problematic in healthcare and drives so many problems, and when that cost of care, whether it's driven by a lot of the pharmacy controls in terms of pricing and also the payers, and how that is driven cost. Obviously there is the clinician side of driving costs as well, and I clearly understand that, but I feel like if we can control costs and deliver care at the highest quality, we would be able to solve the other biggest problem, which is really the barriers in access to care. 

So those to me are the two biggest problems, the cost of care being uncontrollable that leads to poor access. I would like to solve that element, and then really remove the incredible problem of barriers and improve the access to care for everybody.

Q: What are your goals for the next six months as chief medical officer of Northwell? 

JK: I'm focused on many strategic initiatives, but one of the things that I really am focusing on is physician and clinician resiliency and the symptoms of burnout. It's been a difficult couple of years. There are many issues that clinicians are dealing with, that involve both the environment as well as the stress levels that we have. So I'm really working on how we both can recognize stress, create those platforms by which to recognize stress and each other by peer-to-peer type of relationships, and then understand how to intervene when necessary. As well as really looking at the environmental challenges that add to the symptoms of burnout and impede the ability for physicians to be resilient. That's something I really want to focus on, have been focusing on and will continue to focus on in the short term.

Q: What is the best leadership advice you have ever received?

JK: Thankfully, I receive a lot of wonderful advice, and some of the things that I try to put into my day-to-day relationships are: listen to lead with empathy and really drive with collaboration. It's something I really put front and center.

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