Healthcare leaders reveal how they and their teams stay inspired when the going gets tough.

Thomas WilhelmsenRecognizing the Patient Burden

I am motivated by the reality that, despite all of the difficult decisions we providers have to make, we are not the ones facing the biggest hurdles. The financial burden that health care can place on the average family is staggering and, to be blunt, unacceptable. There may not be a perfect answer out there, but it is our responsibility to keep the load that our patients must bear as light as possible. There are many reasons to be optimistic about the future of care in our community, and every day we strive to take another step in that direction. Our patients deserve nothing less.

Thomas E. Wilhelmsen, Jr., is president and CEO, Southern New Hampshire Health System, Nashua, N.H.

Karna Colberg-SwensonPersisting with a Plan

I find nothing more motivating than the opportunity to create, whether discovering a solution or creating a business that provides value to our customers. The challenge of meeting a goal, along with plenty of encouragement and recognition (even in the form of a simple “thanks”) keeps our teams focused. In addition, mapping out a plan helps the team visualize the end result and strive for a common goal. As obstacles block progress, the best response is to refocus on the ultimate goals: outstanding patient experience and compassionate care. However, in the end, sheer persistence and stubbornness keep me and the team going.

Karna Colberg-Swenson is director of continuous improvement, Mercy Medical Center, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Cory WilsonEngaging in the Greater Good

I am drawn to initiatives that connect me with something bigger than my individual practice—those that are likely to benefit both patients and the future of our organization. Most healthcare leaders also identify with a desire for excellence driven by an internal motivation to continuously improve. That involves total immersion or engagement: A leader is much more likely to overcome challenges when fully engaged. Finally, the most basic incentive may be that of autonomy. We are most satisfied when we maximize control, whether it is over our individual clinical practice or our group strategic planning and philosophy. 

Cory Wilson, MD, is an emergency medicine physician, Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare, Milwaukee, Wis.

Susan StuardAccomplishing the Impossible

I am motivated by the mission of health care—caring for patients—and most of the people and organizations I work with have this same “true north.” The more challenging issue is staying incentivized in the face of the Gordian Knot that is health care today. I think the key to success is to communicate. People need to know that you value them and their input, and they need to know that, in the face of a huge project, you have made progress and realized a step forward. For me, it is the very challenge of doing what seems nearly impossible—fostering collaborations among competitors and undertaking multi-year, multi-organization projects—that is inspiring.

Susan Stuard is executive director, Taconic Health Information Network and Community (THINC), Fishkill, N.Y.

Publication Date: Monday, June 10, 2013