ACHE – SETC Board Member spotlighted in Dec/Jan ACHE Early Careerist Newsletter
Trent D. Johnson,
Assistant Director, Ambulatory Services,
Texas Children’s Hospital,
“Being an effective communicator requires that you interact with others in such a way that inspires loyalty among your staff and spurs them to action.”
Trent Johnson, FACHE, has been the assistant director, Ambulatory Services, for more than a year at Texas Children’s Hospital, one of the largest pediatric hospitals (458 beds) in the United States. Johnson discusses his management philosophy and career development tips.
Q: What are your job responsibilities?
A: I work with the outpatient medical clinics within the Clinical Care Center. The specialties include primary care, sports medicine, gynecology, nephrology, diabetes/endocrinology, gastroenterology and pulmonology, among others. I have responsibility for each of the clinic managers along with their staff and focus on quality of care, operations and the financial disposition of each clinic. I also work closely with the physician leadership of each clinic and specialty.
Q: What is your main responsibility toward your staff?
A: I concentrate on keeping my managers motivated and focused on their roles as leaders. I want to make sure I am supportive of their development as leaders by providing the proper tools and creating an ideal environment for them to succeed and grow professionally. One way I do this is by having an open door policy so they know they can come to me any time for advice or information. This helps build trust within my team and also keeps me connected with each of my clinical areas. In addition, I encourage staff to maintain a healthy work-life balance by taking time off.
Work-life balance is a struggle that all early careerists, including myself, confront at one time or another. We have it set in our minds that in order to produce we have to put in the extra hours. Succeeding and reaching the goals we have set for our career development require us to put in those extra hours from time to time. Ultimately, successful leaders should achieve a good balance and strive to maintain it throughout their careers.
Q: What area can young executives work on to enhance their career development?
A: The two areas that are at the top of my list are the development of leadership and interpersonal skills. As healthcare leaders, our role requires that we understand the principles of leadership and the requirements of forming successful working relationships. Both of these skill sets are required to develop trust with those whom we work most closely.
To be effective you should lead by example, possess integrity and strive to earn the respect of those you lead. Leadership requires an understanding of the skills needed to inspire those around you in such a way that people are willing to follow you based on trust. An effective leader should demonstrate a willingness to understand the details and importance of every employee’s role and responsibilities. As a leader, you also should possess courage when it comes to decision making. And when you make a mistake, take steps to learn from your actions. Most importantly, you should be willing to serve every member of your team and put them before yourself.
Being an effective communicator requires that you interact with others in a way that inspires loyalty among your staff and spurs them to action. This interaction requires transparency and honesty, which invoke a feeling of genuine trust among the team. A good communicator unites others with quiet confidence that comes across as an attitude of humility and delivers a message rooted in facts rather than assumptions. Developing communication skills takes time and practice through experience and is a constant work in progress.
Q: How has ACHE helped in your career development?
A: ACHE has helped get me where I am today. I became involved with ACHE as a graduate student, and the first person I met at the first ACHE function I attended became and still is one of my professional mentors. ACHE also helped me obtain an administrative fellowship with a healthcare system in Houston after graduation. It was through connections made at ACHE functions that I met administrative fellowship preceptors across the city. I believe I had an advantage over the competition when I applied for fellowship positions because I had established a relationship with each of them.
My first administrative position post fellowship also was obtained through an ACHE connection who was, at the time, the CEO of a local community hospital in Houston. After establishing a professional relationship with this executive, I asked him to serve as a reference for my advancement to Diplomate, back when ACHE had the certified healthcare executive (CHE) designation. When the CEO took a position at another hospital a few years later, he called me and asked if I would come and work for him. I accepted his invitation.
Much of what I have learned that has helped in my career development was achieved through ACHE networking and educational events, which I was encouraged to participate in by my mentors.