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Be vision driven and mission essential

Posted Oct 10 2008 2:10pm

I left the hospital environment to focus on the business side of private practice healthcare because as my career unfolded I didn’t identify as much with the relatively slower moving, bureaucratic tendencies of larger healthcare organizations.  I just wasn’t as fired up as I wanted to be and really felt I needed to follow my bliss in order to be most effective - and most happy.  I thought this would not only make me a better, happier person, but it would also allow me to do better work.  Work that I was passionate about.

It was ironic that the healthcare organization that I worked for, that I ultimately left due to dissatsifaction with my long-term prospects, also taught me to be vision driven and mission essential - the characteristics that helped me realize that I needed to leave.

The first time I heard the term “mission essential” was from one of our executives, in a strategy meeting in which the feasibility of a new program was being discussed.  The program wasn’t a money maker, and in a time of increasing pressures to maintain margins, this type of discussion didn’t often fare well for non bread-winning propositions.  It wasn’t until the executive made a statement, with confidence, that the program was “mission essential” and consistent with the organization’s long term vision for service to the community, that the program was given the consideration it needed to stay alive.  After a few simple, yet powerful words from the executive as to the mission and vision basis for the program, buy-in from the team was granted and the program stayed.

For me, this was a poignant moment in my career.  I’ve always had a fair business sense, and feel like my balance between the clinical and business sides of healthcare has allowed me a unique perspective on the industry; but to see the essence of a healthcare organization’s mission override the bottom line of an unprofitable program cemented my understanding of the importance of the mission and vision of our businesses, especially in the healthcare industry.

We, of course, must stay profitable in order to survive, but having a solid and unwavering mission that guides us will allow us to provide mission essential care to those that would otherwise go without, even if it must sometimes be done at a loss.  If allowed to work in this way, this type of mission essential and vision driven philosophy will form strong impetus for the creation of the profit centers we need to keep our doors open in order to fulfill the missions and visions we set forth.

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