Fall 2017  

Apply for the ASCRS/ACS 2018 Health Policy Scholarship

Brandeis UniversityIf you have an interest in health policy and management, consider applying for the scholarship to attend the Executive Leadership Program in Health Policy and Management, which will be June 3 – 9, 2018, at Brandeis University in Waltham, MA.

The scholarship is supported by ASCRS and the American College of Surgeons (ACS) and is open to members in the United States and Canada who are in good standing with both organizations. For more information about the program and specific requirements for the scholarship, please visit the Brandeis University website or the ASCRS website.

Specific requirements for the Health Policy Scholarship are listed on the ASCRS website. The deadline for receipt of all application materials is February 1, 2018. Applicants will be notified of the outcome of the selection committee's decision by early April 2018.

Last year’s scholarship recipient, Liana Tsikitis, MD, shared her experience about attending the 2017 Executive Leadership Program.

Dr. Liana Tsikitis“I was one of the fortunate recipients of the American College of Surgeons/American Society of Colorectal Surgeons scholarships to attend a transformative course offered by the Heller School of Social Policy and Management on Health Policy and Leadership. I was privileged to attend lectures by national leaders in health policy and advocacy, experts in organizational relationships and in Quality and Performance Measures, and trailblazers of healthcare policy and of the Affordable Care Act. My class was a group of highly accomplished individuals with shared interests that led to productive workshops and thoughtful discussions. Each day of the course, I found myself in awe of the collective intelligence and intellectual curiosity of the class.

I have looked back at each day, reading my notes, and evaluating how the lectures and workshops influenced me and what I learned. At dinner on Sunday night, Dr. Armstrong gave an excellent talk on advocacy. Currently, with all the changes in healthcare, he emphasized the need of surgeons’ active involvement addressing the welfare of their patients with their state congressmen. The next day, Dr. Chilingerian took us through a workshop where we performed our own SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis on a chosen workshop scenario. Through our discussions, we gained an understanding of how strategic thinking places high demands on leaders, and of the implicit pressures that may lead them to make mistakes. Applying what we learned to my own experiences as a leader, and recognizing the cognitive and emotional biases I engage to solve problems, I may now have tools available to me to avoid future mistakes. In addition, we examined and defined corporate vs operative and competitive strategies engaged by the hospitals and universities we work at. We discussed how existent institutional/hospital culture impedes leadership and incapacitates leaders from thinking outside the box when problems need to be addressed. One of my favorite Chilingerianisms was “truth is another argument,” a saying that resonates with me every day in my leadership role as a medical director at our General Surgery clinic.

That afternoon, Dr. Mechanic introduced both the Medicare Physician Payment Models and the new MACRA (Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act) legislation. Few of my colleagues have established ACO programs in their institutions; I am certain our institution will develop a program like this, and his lecture will enable me to be instrumental in helping my colleagues understand the need for embracing it. Dr. Opelka finished the lectures that day by introducing the College’s proposed Alternative Payment Method, and challenged us to think of our individual questions to the current House and CMS leadership.  

The next day, in a small group setting, we discussed paradigms of process flow, system capacity, and bottlenecks we encounter daily in our clinic and operating rooms. Understanding hospital “physics” allowed me to discuss why a utilization of 75% of the GS clinic may be the optimum target to aim for with my general surgery division team. Needless to say, the entire class was powerfully impacted by the lectures of Dr. Altman over that afternoon and the following day. I have been reading his book, “Power, Politics, and Universal Health Care.” I can hear his words describing the making of our current nation’s health care system, how three independent sex scandals ironically obstructed the road to universal health care, and how President Obama was faced with significant obstacles before he brought the Affordable Care Act to fruition. It was humbling to hear one of the “makers” of the ACA admitting the three fundamental flaws that might have supported the American public’s belief that it needs to be repealed. Dr. Altman made it so easy to understand the intricate balance between the Medicare and private insurance payments that keep our current system going, and explained how Medicare is threatened by concierge medicine. It was disheartening to hear a health care giant speak on how all that he has worked for the American public is thus far seriously threatened. This proved to be even more convincing for us as future leaders that we share a responsibility to work in a bipartisan fashion and a motivator to support a universal health care plan that makes financial sense.

Dr. Chilingerian’s lecture on effective leadership styles followed, addressing the importance of adaptability among all leadership styles for the effectiveness of leader. A quote he shared with us from Carlos Ghosn, one of the best-known leaders in the automotive industry, resonated strongly with me: “An effective leader brings the team together with shared commitment to common goals; he may not provide an immediate answer but listens.” Dr. Chilingerian did exceptional work, using a combination of TED talks, readings, and informal discussion to make the session on leadership one of the highlights of the week.

The sessions of both Drs. Gilttell and Garnick were outstanding. I found Dr. Gittell’s lecture on “High Performance Health Care and the Impact of Relational Coordination” extremely beneficial. As the medical director of our GS, clinic I was able to share an example from our clinic, discussing the dynamics among our clinics’ physicians, nurses, schedulers, and referral coordinators with my small group. I was fortunate to be part of a group of very bright individuals who helped me put it all in perspective, and I am grateful to have had this opportunity. It gave me a new perspective for entering a challenging upcoming meeting, where I will need to address a change in our medical review process and initiate a cultural shift among all our clinic members.

The next day was focused on financial literacy. Over one day of lectures, Dr. Anderson gave us an overview of how to balance a finance sheet, to read a hospital proforma-sheet, and described effective tools for making sound accounting decisions within our organizations. This was the most intimidating module, as I have little to no background in finance. I enjoyed how she consolidated the basic concepts with class exercises and small group discussions. The evening offered a great opportunity to interact with our fellow colleagues in a more relaxed and fun way, including a Boston harbor cruise and dinner, where all we toasted to a great week together.

We finished strong the next day, with a lecture in conflict negotiations by Dr. Prottas, and given another remarkable book, “Getting to YES-Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In.

As I am reexamining what I learned and remembering my experience, I realize how inspired and eager I am to explore this realm of topics in medicine, and continue my studies in the future with an MBA tailored to physicians. This week led to significant personal growth, showed me what kind of leader I aspire to be, and I how I want to shape the future of my institution.”

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