Q&A with Interim Medical Center President Jeff Smith, MD, JD, MMM

With Patrick Muldoon’s retirement last week as president of the Medical Center, Jeff Smith, MD, JD, MMM, now serves as interim president. Jeff joined the Medical Center in June 2015 as EVP and chief operating officer, responsible for leading the senior leadership team in the daily operations of the Medical Center. We sat down with Jeff to learn more about his experience and plans as interim president.   

Q: Where did you grow up and how does it compare to living in Central Mass?
My family lived in Minnesota until I was 13 and then moved to Florida, so I can adapt to any kind of weather – snow or heat, so Worcester feels like home. Before medical school, I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Miami. There’s something to be said about going to school near the beach!

Q: You are a physician with a law degree and a Master’s in Medical Management. Do you come from a family of overachievers?
My mother, a retired school teacher, fostered a love of learning in my family and I’ve always had a natural curiosity and a wide variety of interests. After I became a physician, I decided to pursue a law degree and Masters of Medical Management to combine my love of medicine with the business of running hospitals.

Q: How did you decide to pursue health care management and what do you enjoy about it?
I really enjoyed business school and pursuing my law degree, both of which challenged me to make the connections between health care, operations and important legal issues like employment law. Health care management has been a great way to use all my experience and it’s fantastic working with a great team in tackling the challenges and opportunities we’re faced with every day at the Medical Center

Q: Prior to being named interim president of the Medical Center, you served as EVP and chief operating officer since June 2015. As the largest health care system in Central Mass, what do you see as our best strengths as well as opportunities to improve?
The Medical Center plays such a crucial role in the community – we’re the only large health care system in Central Mass that provides specialized services such as transplants, trauma services, and a world-class NICU. But we also take care of the day-to-day health care needs of the community through our network of more than 8,000 physicians and are the largest employer in the area, so we help fuel the local economy, too. Our goals reflect our opportunities to continually improve the quality of care we provide, improve access to health care services and improve the overall patient experience.

Q: As interim president, what will your overall management strategy be? Should caregivers expect significant changes?
We already have a strong strategy in place that Patrick has driven for the past four years and a proven management system with Lean. We’ll continue to drive innovation and process improvement by engaging our caregivers to solve problems. Without a doubt, the most powerful resource we have as we work to become the best place to give care and get care is our own people.

Q: How do you decompress after a long day at work – any hobbies or interests?
My family keeps my busy. I have four sons who are 17, 15, 14 and 10 years old. They’re all in Boy Scouts/Cub Scouts and I’m an assistant Scout master. I was a Boy Scout growing up and it’s a great way to build a strong sense of values and leadership skills. It feeds my love of the outdoors, including kayaking, camping and backpacking.

 

Q: What career advice would you have for a new caregiver at the Medical Center?
New caregivers are so valuable because they bring new ideas from the outside world and other organizations that we may not have thought of before. It can be challenging to get started at the Medical Center because we’re so large and complex. I encourage every new caregiver to get involved, have a voice and challenge us to do things differently – it’s the best way to learn and make a difference.