On January 13, 2021, the American College of Healthcare Executives Massachusetts Chapter brought together renowned brothers Dr.’s Andre, Keith, and Kevin Churchwell for a discussion on their healthcare career journeys from physician, to leader, to executive. The fruitful discussion was moderated by Angelique Hrycko, MPH.
Dr. Keith Churchwell shared his experience growing a clinical cardiovascular practice, which led him to be promoted into the Chief Medical Officer/Executive Director of Vanderbilt. He served there for many years before being appointed to his current position as President of Yale New Haven Hospital in Connecticut.
Dr. Andre Churchwell was the first African American chief medical resident at Grady Memorial Hospital. He shared the importance of mentorship on each level of your career journey. A former mentor told him when he walked through the portals at Grady Memorial that “anything that can happen will have happened or will happen,” which is a motto Dr. Churchwell has kept with him throughout his career.
Dr. Kevin Churchwell shared that he discovered early on that his passion was around the critical nature of illness, so he pursued career opportunities as an Intensivist and Medical Director for Pediatric Critical Care Services. Dr. Churchwell encouraged participants that “when given the opportunity, one must take it” and discussed his incredible career opportunities, which ultimately led to his current role as President and Chief Operating Officer (and soon-to-be CEO) of Boston Children’s Hospital.
The brothers all spoke highly of the role mentors played in their lives and careers, namely their parents as their first mentors. Dr. Andre Churchwell stated, “Your parents are your original mentors and if you are fortunate, they are your best and most sustaining mentors.” He added that the best mentors model instructions for a virtuous life by their daily example.
In discussing COVID-19, Dr. Keith Churchwell relished the ability of institutions to be able to turn on a dime in response and to intersect every facet of the health care system to fight this pandemic together. The discussion focused on the advancement of technology and increase to telemedicine access. He noted that healthcare leadership must work together to ensure that technological advancements made do not dissipate.
COVID has also been a forcing function that has brought to light the significant disparity in patient outcomes based on race, gender, and risk factor profiles. The panel discussed the need for better leadership globally in eradicating inequity and injustice. Diversity and inclusion should be an intentional commitment and part of the central ethos of every organization.
Dr. Andre Churchwell poignantly ended the discussion by answering the question that health systems ask frequently: How can we define greatness in our Institutions? The answer is that by any standard, diversity leads to true greatness. Diversity in workforce, thought, and opportunity that we bring to the table provides better outcomes for our workforce and our patients. At its very best, diversity allows us to take the blinders off and look at the breadth of talent across the spectrum.
-Written by ACHE of MA Communications Chair Kathy Sucich and Committee Member Ashley Lewis