August 17, 2015

“The best companies in the world are those that have outstanding frontline leadership.”

That’s no. 10 of my Maxims of Leadership, and it is evidenced every single day at Texas Children’s. Our organization, which is innovating and growing at such an amazing pace, is propelled by our people. Our incredible staff and employees are why we are one of the best organizations in the world. Recently, when I had an opportunity to visit with our Emergency Center preceptors, I enjoyed being reminded yet again just how true Maxim no. 10 is.

By definition, a preceptor is a teacher responsible for upholding a certain law or tradition – a precept. Our preceptors throughout the organization are the nurses who train new nurses to care for our patients, upholding our high standard of care. Just in the EC, our preceptors have trained 47 nurses and eight emergency medical technicians (EMTs) since October 1 – 13,900 hours spent training and teaching in less than a year. Across the organization, we’ve had about 1,100 clinical orientees since October 1 who’ve received more than 280,000 hours of training. As you can see, our preceptors are making an awesome contribution.

Our preceptors in units throughout Texas Children’s impart wisdom and practices that can’t be found in textbooks or taught in a classroom. They nurture our culture and create a sense of warmth, security and family for nurses who are just starting out and getting a foothold in their careers. This instills confidence and inspires excellence, helping ensure that our new nurses transition more seamlessly into our organization.

Essentially, like all good teachers, preceptors give their “students” a model to which to aspire. And the really great teachers know something else that’s just as important – they know when and how to give their students the space to grow and demonstrate just how much and how well they’ve learned. Actually, I like the way Carrie Stocker puts it. Carrie is a nurse who joined us a few months ago and recently completed orientation with three awesome preceptors. She explains it like this:

Preceptors must master the art of dancing. My preceptors knew when to lead and when to follow. The best dance partners know each other and each other’s movements really well so they can make adjustments in the moment. My preceptors’ constant adjustment from leading to following ensured for my maximum growth. By providing a gradual release of responsibility, my preceptors first took the lead and then smoothly and confidently allowed me to take the reins. They had equipped me quickly with the skills I needed to be able to dance with the stars here at TCH!  

Well said Carrie. There is absolutely an art to leading and following and knowing when to do which.

The time that our preceptors spend teaching and molding new nurses fortifies the organization in immeasurable, yet very tangible ways. And quite honestly, that’s true of every single person here – clinical and non-clinical – who takes the time to help teach a colleague a new skill or a better or more efficient practice. As Texas Children’s continues to grow at such a staggering rate, we rely on everyone’s willingness to do that. And I get it – some days, that’s hard. Our patient volume is growing, we have more patients with higher acuity, and we feel that across the organization. Daily, we balance that with training and teaching all the new Texas Children’s staff and employees we are aggressively onboarding to help us care for all of those precious patients. All told, our workforce of 10,000 will grow to 15,000 in three years – yes, 50 percent.

But the way I see it, this growth in volume and workforce is an amazing opportunity to serve our mission. The reason we are blessed with all of you – staff and employees who are hands down the very best at what you do – is because we are meant to use every person and every gift we have to fulfill our mission. We are meant to mold others and to advance care. We are meant to heal children and women for years to come. That’s why it’s so very important to share our gifts and inspire our people. It’s what we’ve always done, and it’s why we’re one of the best organizations in the world.

August 6, 2015

Making tough decisions typically is not fun. But leaders must have the discernment to make tough calls every day, and as President and CEO of Texas Children’s I am no exception. Yet what I’ve learned in my 25 years here is that if I make decisions that remain focused on what’s best for our patients and their families, we usually land on the right track and success follows.

That’s exactly what happened 20 years ago when Texas Children’s Physician-in-Chief Dr. Ralph D. Feigin and I were grappling with whether to start a network of pediatricians affiliated with Texas Children’s. It was the mid-90s, a time of great change for the health care industry. Several Houston-area pediatricians approached Dr. Feigin to talk about the challenges they were facing managing the business end of their practices while keeping up with what they do best – caring for patients. Hospitals across the country responded to similar concerns by creating pediatric primary care group networks. Many of them, however, did not do so well. They didn’t seem to have the appropriate leadership, business model or commitment to high quality care and service.

Knowing this, Dr. Feigin and I were apprehensive about starting a group practice affiliated with Texas Children’s. But we knew it was the right thing to do for our patients. We knew we needed to create a way for families to access high quality primary care to compliment the comprehensive pediatric subspecialty care provided at Texas Children’s.

By forming Texas Children’s Pediatrics, we gave families in the Greater-Houston area the opportunity to receive pediatric primary care from leading pediatricians associated with one of the best children’s hospitals in the nation. We also allowed physicians to focus on medicine while business leaders and support staff at Texas Children’s handled their practices’ billing, payroll and other back-office responsibilities.

Texas Children’s Pediatrics has helped us take better care of the kids in our community, strengthened our ties to the best pediatricians in the Greater-Houston area and helped us nurture a pipeline of gifted young physicians trained at Baylor College of Medicine to our practices.

Doing what was best for our patients and families was the impetus for Texas Children’s Pediatrics. It is now the largest pediatric primary care network in the nation with more than 200 board-certified pediatricians and 50 practice locations. Each year, the group sees nearly 400,000 patients and has more than 1 million patient encounters. That’s a long way to come in just 20 years and a great reason to celebrate a milestone anniversary.

This video spotlights Texas Children’s Pediatrics’ 20th anniversary.

As part of my One Amazing Team tour, I am visiting all of our practice sites. This week, I stopped by Texas Children’s Pediatrics Ashford, our first practice, which, at that time, was owned by the four Rosenthal brothers – Drs. Morris, Paul, Ben and Harry Rosenthal. Drs. Ben and Harry Rosenthal are still caring for patients with the same zest and zeal they had when they started their careers. And now Dr. Ben’s daughter, Dr. Rachel Rosenthal Bray, has become part of the family’s legacy of dedication to and passion for pediatric primary care.

All of the Texas Children’s Pediatrics staff and employees I’ve visited during the tour thus far share this same passion. They are extremely talented people who are dedicated to meeting the Texas Children’s mission of creating a healthier future for children. Pursuing that common goal creates a network of expertise like no other.

Over the past two decades, I’ve been reminded time and again what a solid decision Texas Children’s Pediatrics was for our patients and families, and I am proud of what we have accomplished together. Congratulations to all of the staff and employees at Texas Children’s Pediatrics for 20 years of work extremely well done. I know there is much more success to come.