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Francine R. Gaillour, MD, MBA, FACPE Daring Doctors

This issue of Daring Doctors introduces a new quarterly feature:  “Physician Leaders on the Front Line" where I will share interview highlights with physicians who are forging a path as leaders, business professionals and entrepreneurs.   

Physician Leaders on the Front Line: Valerie Moore, MD MBA Using Business Concepts to Engage Physicians 

by Francine R. Gaillour, MD

Valerie Moore, MD, MBA is a physician executive who has taken deliberate steps to develop herself as a leader who can transform healthcare, first by leading a number of high-impact clinical initiatives, and second by getting an MBA.  The clinical “Practice Council” she established in her organization can serve as a good model for other physician leaders who are wondering how they can engage physicians in quality, safety and technology initiatives.  

1.  Dr. Moore, what is your present role?    I am currently the Medical Director of the neonatal intensive care unit at Memorial Hermann Southwest hospital and managing partner of Neonatal Consultants, PA in Houston, Texas.  

2.  Can you share an example of how you applied your MBA experience to your role?  I completed my MBA through the University of Tennessee Physician Executive MBA program, PEMBA, and one of the requirements was to complete a year long project in my organization.  My project examined our Neo/Pedi service line initiative. As part of that I conducted a “SWOT” analysis with our physicians and clinical team.  SWOT, which is a common tool in business, stands for:  Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats. It was done to promote ownership by the team and allow us to focus on what matters to our NICU. In business the SWOT process is a way to get people thinking strategically and constructively about their business or organization. The physicians and clinical team members really got involved and enjoyed the processes.  Out of that came the idea for the Practice Council.    

2. What is the Practice Council and why was it launched?  From the physician and clinical team SWOT analysis, one of the “Opportunities” for improvement was to find a way to reduce practice variation.  The Practice Council was established with the mission of providing a mechanism to use evidence-based medical practices to provide optimal individualized care to our infants and their family to reduce variation through the collaboration of physicians, nurses, other health care providers and ancillary services.  

3. Who is on the Council? How often do you meet? The Council is composed of five different teams: Patient care team, Neonatal pain committee, Neonatal feeding team, Data analysis team, and Neonatal respiratory care team. The membership consists of Neonatologists, NICU nurses, respiratory therapists, speech pathologist, dietitian, NICU case manager, NICU social worker, and lactation consultants. We have about 30 people involved in this process.  I meet with the five team leaders every month; they report their activities against the action plan we formulated together. The larger group meets approximately every quarter.  The teams meet as often as is necessary.

4. I understand that through the Council you also develop the leadership skills of your team. What kind of leadership resources do you provide the members? In addition to the evidence-based review we conduct, this year we are focusing on building leadership and team skills. I have started out by providing articles from the Harvard Business review such as: “What makes a leader” and “Team process;” plus Daniel Goldman’s articles on “Emotional Intelligence” and “Primal Leadership."  The recommended texts are: “The Team Handbook” by Peter Scholtes; “Who moved my Cheese”; “Gung Ho”; and “The Servant: A Simple Story About the True Essence of Leadership.”

5. How have the members responded to being on the Practice Council? Enthusiastically!  Although I have greater participation from the non-physicians with meeting attendance, the physicians are participating through their team leader. Overall input from physicians is probably 80%; much better than I hoped. The meetings are always full!  

6. What kind of results have you had through the Practice Council? We have hired neonatal nurse practitioners, expanded the roles of our respiratory therapists to allow them to intubate. We have hired our own pharmacist.  We are moving into a new unit. We have an electronic medical record. We can measure outcomes and analyze our data and ultimately improve the delivery of care provided. Most importantly we have an atmosphere of collaboration and mutual respect, which has been strengthened by the Council.  In fact the Council is being emulated in the nursing arena.  

7. How have you seen your own leadership change or evolve through the Council activities? The Council has certainly provided a forum for my own personal growth and a positive way to make a difference in the lives of the people that I work with. I truly enjoy change management and I have found that my natural people skills go a long way here.  And I've had a lot of fun taking business concepts in strategy and process improvement and applying them to healthcare. The physicians and clinical team members are definitely open to that.

8. Where will you go next as a leader? After serving in a part-time leadership capacity for several years, as Medical Director, Chief of Staff and Chairperson of various committees, I am in the process of becoming a full-time senior-level physician executive.  Positions that are a strong fit include Chief Medical Officer or Chief Quality Officer of a large hospital---areas where I can bring my passion and skills in quality and change management to the forefront.    

If you want to contact Dr. Moore, you can email her at:  valmd@aol.com


Francine R. Gaillour, MD, MBA, FACPE is an executive coach and business consultant.  She is president of The Gaillour Group and director  of Creative Strategies in Physician Leadership.  Dr. Gaillour is a professional speaker on healthcare leadership, technology and cultural change.  

She can be reached at (206) 686-4205 or francine@physicianleadership.com


Francine R. Gaillour, MD, MBA, FACPE
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(206) 686-4205

Francine R. Gaillour, MD   ©2006 Ki Health, Inc.