We recently spoke with one of our regional medical directors, Dr. Gina Wilkins, MD, MHA, FACEP, about her role as a leader at TeamHealth, and she offered great insight on mentorship and her calling to enter medicine and gave advice for female physicians wanting to advance their careers.
How long have you worked with TeamHealth?
Dr. Wilkins: I started with TeamHealth part-time in 1999 as a staff physician and converted to full-time in 2010 as a facility medical director initially and then regional medical director in 2013.
What are some advantages you see in working for a group like TeamHealth?
Dr. Wilkins: TeamHealth offers many advantages due to the enormous amount of resources we have available. We have experts in multiple areas from risk management and IT to navigation of the latest healthcare legislation that is second to none.
Did anything specific inspire you to pursue medicine as a profession?
Dr. Wilkins: I have always been fascinated by anatomy and physiology and really enjoy the practice of medicine. I gravitated to emergency medicine because we touch so many different types of specialties and patients. There is never a dull day in the ER.
Did you have a mentor? If so, what value did you take away from that relationship?
Dr. Wilkins: My first job out of residency was at a suburban hospital and the medical director had been practicing for over 20 years. He took me under his wing to show me the ropes and opened the door to my first administrative job. Working with him was immensely valuable to me in that I had someone working closely with me on how to develop management skills that I never had been exposed to in residency.
What made you decided to pursue a leadership role?
Dr. Wilkins: I decided to get involved in a leadership role because I wanted to make a difference in the practice of emergency medicine not only for my patients but also for my fellow providers. I enjoy finding ways to make the job easier for providers and staff. The ER can be a very stressful place so anything I can do to ease that stress I feel is invaluable.
What is the most challenging aspect of being a physician executive?
Dr. Wilkins: The most challenging aspect can be trying to find the balance between the human side and the business side of medicine so to speak. There is usually a middle ground between the two that just requires time and patience to find.
Do you have any advice for new female physicians and residents on how to maintain a work-life balance?
Dr. Wilkins: Work-life balance can be very difficult to maintain and is an ongoing challenge. My first word of advice would be to learn to draw boundaries on your time. There is nothing wrong with protecting time with your family and you shouldn’t feel guilty about doing so. My second word of advice would be to find what works for you and your family. Do not worry about what it looks like, and do not compare yourself to other people. My family doesn’t look like a traditional family such as the Cleavers, but my husband and I have figured out how we can make our home happy and kids feel loved. At the end of the day that is all that matters.
Do you have any advice for female physicians who may be actively seeking (or considering) a leadership role?
Dr. Wilkins: My advice to anyone wanting to get started in a leadership role would be to let your desire be known. Often we can be overlooked because others may assume we don’t have a desire. Let your voice be heard. Work on the basic leadership skills that will help you in any role you decide to pursue. You do not have to pursue an advanced degree to find ways to make yourself more knowledgeable. There are multiple organizations you can join to become more knowledgeable on the business of health care such as the American College of Healthcare Executives. Organizations such as the American Association for Physician Leadership offer online classes focused on particular areas or skills you may want to develop. Use online resources to your advantage – you can learn helpful skills at home on your schedule.
For more information on TeamHealth’s Women In Leadership group, you can ask to join the TH Women in Leadership Facebook group, or e-mail us at email@example.com 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.