We recently spoke with Barbara Blevins, former TeamHealth president of integrated operations, about her career in healthcare, her time at TeamHealth and the impact she continues to leave on the organization through her vision in founding our Women In Leadership (WIL) program.
TeamHealth: Tell me about your roles and responsibilities while working in healthcare and your time at TeamHealth.
Blevins: I’ve always been on the administrative side since I started working in healthcare at 19-years-old. I was the president of integrated operations at TeamHealth when I retired, and before that, I was a chief operating officer for hospital-based services. I was with TeamHealth just short of ten years. I was a hospital chief financial officer, chief operating officer and chief executive officer in several facilities, and a president of a full behavioral health continuum before I came to TeamHealth. In addition, in my early thirties, I owned a technical and administrative staffing company.
TeamHealth: Tell me more about your professional experience essentially growing up in healthcare. What inspired you to become a leader? Did you have any role models or mentors?
Blevins: At 19-years-old, I went to work for the chief financial officer, Ted Hoover, at Holston Valley Medical Center (currently Wellmont Health System) as an accounting clerk, and he took me under his wing. I intended to go back to school anyway, but he really encouraged me. After graduation, I started working as a staff account, then chief accountant. I kept moving up quickly, and then I went to work for HCA Healthcare.
I was lucky enough to participate in HCA’s first chief financial officer training program in 1982, and became a CFO when I was 29 years old at a 60-bed hospital in Virginia. I was a CFO for various facilities for more than a decade, and then one of my CEOs at the time said we are going to lead two hospitals together and I would like you to be my COO. I said well, why? I’m a CFO. I’m good at it. I like it. He said, you’re great with the doctors. They like you. They respect you. You just tell it like it is, but you tell it in such a way that they can hear you. He said the staff loves and respects you, and they believe you speak the truth, so I’d like for you to try it. I said what the heck, okay, and I’ve never looked back. I loved it, and have been in operations ever since.
TeamHealth: How did the TeamHealth WIL program get started?
Blevins: A few years into my tenure at TeamHealth, I looked to my left, and I looked to my right and saw we had so few women in senior and executive positions, and I thought, wow, we need to do more to help young women aspire to positions of greater responsibility in this organization. I wanted to help them prepare so they would be better qualified for leadership roles, and then influence the organization to embrace them and actively pursue improving the number of women in senior and executive positions.
TeamHealth: What makes the WIL program so personal for you? Why is it a passion of yours?
Blevins: We have a son who is a psychiatrist, a daughter who is an emergency medicine physician and another daughter who is a pediatric nurse practitioner. They have all done great, but when I particularly look at those two young women, I hope somebody does something similar for them in their professional space. I hope they have opportunities to continue to learn, to grow—-and into formal leaders, if that becomes their passion. I also would have never had the opportunities I have had if I had not had great mentors along my career path.
TeamHealth: What else would you like to see the WIL program accomplish? What are your goals and what difference do you want to see it make?
Blevins: We are, after all, a company with more than 20,000 clinicians across the country who work in emergency medicine, hospital medicine, anesthesiology, post-acute care, orthopedics, obstetrics, general surgery, and behavioral health. While we have done a good job to-date of hiring and nurturing women leaders, there is still opportunity for improvement. Today approximately 43% of our clinicians are women, and 26% are leaders. I would also like to see this work with women serve as a springboard to improve overall diversity within our organization.
Our goal is to recruit and retain talented women leaders, both clinicians and business professionals. To achieve these goals, we have developed a formal mentorship program, we provide networking opportunities and professional development. It’s important we identify and develop talented women within our organization and promote women leaders when they are the right person for the role. I believe that providing resources and support to the women within our organization can help facilitate their career growth and success—benefitting those individuals, our company, and the broader industry if those women pursue other opportunities in the future.
TeamHealth: Is there anything else you would like to share?
Blevins: Yes! There was an article posted to our TeamHealth Women In Leadership group. The “7 things that make great bosses unforgettable,” I would echo every word of that. Leadership can make or break an organization and this article truly describes the characteristics of what it takes to be a great leader who produces excellent results and via an “ALWAYS” culture.
Are you a female TeamHealth physician or non-clinical leader and aspire to be in a leadership role with us? Are you looking to grow in your career, connect with other leaders, share ideas and discuss challenges? Join a growing network of more than 600 TeamHealth clinical and non-clinical leaders who are part of the Women in Leadership group.
The group is the place to be if you are looking for professional development activities and networking opportunities to connect with women leaders across TeamHealth. Through this program, we are moving the needle to improve the recruitment and retention of women while promoting a community of continuous learning, encouragement and diversity in the workplace.
Join us. Here’s how.
You can ask to join the TH Women in Leadership Facebook group, or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org to join. We will keep you updated on the latest news, webinars, meetings, opportunities and more.
If you know a colleague or friend at TeamHealth who would like to be part of this group, pass this information along. If you have any questions about this group, visit our Women in Leadership page website to learn about our purpose and development opportunities.