Joshi, an OB-GYN, discusses her experiences as a physician leader at a federally qualified health center. She joined the association in 2007 and is a member of its Vanguard group.
Although Raksha Joshi, MD, FACOG, FRCOG, FAAPL, CPE, MBA, MS, MBBS, FACPE, has been a physician leader at Monmouth Family Health Center in Long Branch, New Jersey, since 2004, she continues clinical work — her “first love,” she says.
“To be a credible leader, one must also be a player on the team. And if I give up my white coat and become just a ‘suit’ … then my physicians will find me less credible because they would think I am not experiencing such things as their woes of electronic medical records.”
Joshi, who also is fluent in Hindi, Arabic, Persian, Spanish and Portuguese, talks about her experiences as a physician leader.
Q Annual visits increased from 16,000 to more than 51,000 at your federally qualified health center, which is among the most cost-effective in the nation, according to federal data. What did you and your staff do to grow business?
A From my first day as CMO, I wanted to know every aspect of our health care delivery. I observed and analyzed each step, from when patients make appointments to when they are discharged. I found steps that were time wasters and corrected them, and streamlined patient throughput. I recruited physicians who are dedicated and love what they do, which our patients recognized, and, by word of mouth, attracted many more patients to our center. I write health-related articles for area publications, have recorded television segments, and make sure our center is represented at community events. I recruit bi- and trilingual staff at all levels so patients feel comfortable speaking their own language.
Q How did you overcome the challenges, such as resource demand, that come with growth?
A We have a policy of allocating resources according to growth, so if a particular area sees a large increase in patient visits, a new patient care session is added, including physicians and support staff to meet demand. Additionally, we have a culture of frugality in every aspect of our operation to optimize our existing resources.
Q We’re in an era of depersonalization, where business is business. As a physician leader, what role do you play to encourage and develop a sense of ownership for your people?
A I give each employee the freedom to change any process that enhances and streamlines their work and improves efficiency. I believe that each human being has unique skills, and if one fits the job to the person and not the other way around, then their innate skills will shine through with pride. I make it a point to be visible and accessible to everyone, practice what I preach, give feedback constantly and quickly recognize good work. It is amazing how encouraging a “thank you, well done” can be.
Q You’ve been CMO and medical director at Monmouth for a while. How has physician leadership, and leadership in general, evolved during your tenure?
A For me, the core elements of being a good leader remain the same: Be a good role model in everything that one does, practice what you preach, be fair, be consistent, give feedback and recognition, and, above all, be a team player. One cannot lead a team without being a player with the team.
Q You joined AAPL’s Vanguard group for seasoned physician leaders in 2013. How has your association with these fellow professionals helped you as an organizational leader?
A One trait I have observed among all these seasoned leaders is that they are always humble and bring out the best in their employees and those they work with. I have done my best to emulate these characteristics.