Members Move Medicine: A compassionate agent of change – American Medical Association

By | July 10, 2019

The AMA “Members Move Medicine” series profiles a wide variety of doctors, offering a glimpse into the passions of women and men navigating new courses in American medicine.

On the move with: Nigel Girgrah, MD, a transplant hepatologist and medical director of the Ochsner Health System Multi-Organ Transplant Institute.

AMA member since: 2018.

What inspired me to pursue a career in medicine: My father. He wanted me to pursue a career in a “traditional” profession. My grades were always very strong in math and sciences. My passion was in the arts and the humanities. And so … we decided on medicine. As my career has progressed, I have appreciated that medicine is as much an art as it is a science. It is a profession that has given me much fulfillment and joy.

How I move medicine as a leader in my organization: Medicine and health care are undergoing unprecedented and rapid change. Increasing numbers of physicians are now employed, rather than independent, and working within large integrated health care systems.

Since 2006, the triple aim—and, more recently, the quadruple aim—has provided a compass for where we need to go as individuals, as a profession, and as health care systems. I see myself as a compassionate agent of change. I wouldn’t be doing myself, the physicians I lead, or the communities I serve, any favors if I didn’t provide the vision and the case for rapidly reinventing what we do while staying true to our profession’s underlying principles and ideals.

Career highlights: The Multi-Organ Transplant Institute. Other previous traditional leadership roles have included serving as chairman of the Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, and associate medical director of the medical subspecialties. I have also served on the United Network for Organ Sharing National Liver and Intestine Committee. I have previously been awarded “New Physician of the Year” at Ochsner.

Advice I’d give to those interested in pursuing a career in medicine: Find something that brings you joy in the career of medicine. And find things that bring you joy outside of health care. Make sure you carve out enough time to pursue these areas.

How my organization and I give back to the community: Our health care system has enjoyed much success over the past decade. Success is obviously not measured by merely a collection of assets. Everything has been thoughtfully done to create a system that provides a superior patient experience—whether that is measured by access, patient satisfaction or quality and safety. This “patients first” attitude permeates our leadership team, organizational values, strategic vision and day-to-day operations.

Our organization has invested significantly in our local community. In the last year, we announced we would raise the minimum wage for our employees. We are strengthening our workforce by investing in and developing programs to train medical assistants, nurses and physician assistants. In the past year, we opened a local farmers market to model healthier living. Later this year, we will be entering into an educational partnership with our community to open a new K–8 public charter school in one of our underserved communities.

Aspect of your organization’s work that means the most: The work I am doing recently to lead our organization’s efforts in the area of physician and provider well-being gives me the most satisfaction. First, it’s the right thing to do, and something that compassionate professionals and organizations need to tackle head on. But secondly, physician well-being is a “sine qua non” endeavor—it will be impossible, or certainly very difficult, to move the needle in areas related to the triple aim without it.

How my organization is shaping the future of medicine: Ochsner Health System is moving from merely being a traditional health care system to a “system that delivers health.” We will be doubling down on efforts to reinvigorate programs that are currently strong (i.e., destination care service lines; population health) while making significant investments in developing capabilities that will improve the health and lives of our patients and communities, such as digital medicine, telemedicine, data science and machine learning.

Visit MembershipMovesMedicine.com to learn more about other AMA members who are relentlessly moving medicine through advocacy, education, patient care and practice innovation, and join or renew today.

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