Kim Staffey, MD, MHCDS
Kim Staffey doesn’t have a lot of free time on her hands. A clinical professor and director of the cardiac ICU at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City, Staffey balances administrative duties with her responsibilities training residents and patient care. So she was surprised to hear in the personal leadership course in Dartmouth’s Master of Health Care Delivery Science program that she should be spending more time at meetings engaging in casual chitchat.
“The faculty member stressed the importance of getting to know people outside of what you are doing for work—quoting a number like 80 percent of your conversation should be non-work-related, which shocked me,” she says. Taking the advice to heart, Staffey began setting aside 10 minutes at the end of her weekly quality-improvement meetings to get to know her colleagues individually. Already, she’s seen the tenor of the meetings shift. “People are much more apt to speak up,” she says. “It’s produced a much more friendly and open environment in which to discuss ideas.”
That is just one of the ways Staffey says the program has deepened her administrative and strategic capabilities. “In medical school, we are not educated in finance,” It’s something lacking in my repertoire of skills,” she says. The collaborative environment at Dartmouth has already given her a greater understanding of health care financing, not only from the coursework, but also from colleagues in the program who helped explain complex financial concepts.
Staffey plans on using these insights to help transform the health care system in which she works, and tackle some of the big problems she observes every day. These include the issues that arise from limits on residents’ working hours, which create gaps in patient care. “It’s affected the amount of training they get, and requires faculty physicians to provide the main continuity of care, which may not be a sustainable model,” she says. By gaining a greater understanding of all of the factors that go into the hospital environment—medical, financial, and human—Staffey is confident she can help make that care both more efficient and sustainable.