Dr. Jacob Heller: Executive MHA, 2003
Dr. Heller was named one of Seattle's Top Doctors in Emergency Medicine by Seattle Magazine for 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009. The vote is by peer choice.
Brief job history
I've been a physician in Emergency Medicine for over 30 years. In 1999, I took on the added responsibility of consulting for Premera Blue Cross.
What decisions/choices have led to your current career position?
I essentially fell into emergency medicine. It started when I left a job at the Seattle VA to travel for a year. When I returned, I began working in emergency departments around Seattle, beginning with the University, then Providence and eventually Virginia Mason. Now I enjoy the patient interaction, teaching residents, and watching health care delivery deal with the pressures brought upon it.
What are the unique rewards inherent in what you do?
Making an emotional connection to people who are in some degree of crisis.
What challenges do you face in the current health care environment?
The challenges have remained to stay up to date, interested, motivated and unjaded, and to remember what and who I'm really there for, particularly in an environment that has become less friendly to physicians and medical practice in general. It is also a challenge dealing with administrative fiats and trying to convince administrators (both MD and business types) that changes on paper and theoretical improvements don't always translate into better patient care.
What aspects of the UW Executive MHA Program have been of greatest benefit to you?
Understanding organizational structure, the roles people play, how personalities affect effectiveness, and looking to the near and long term with respect to change.
Name the highlights of your student years
Being able to discuss real-time, actual work-based issues in the classroom, and having the advantage of both faculty and fellow student input vis-à-vis their understanding of, and approach to, solving the problem. The varying perspectives, usually based on their own work experience, always provided keen insight into the management of daily dilemmas (and successes) of the workplace. I also enjoyed meeting fellow students and faculty, and appreciate knowing that I can always call one of the former and get whatever help I might need.
What advice do you have for students/recent alums?
Look down the road and decide if where you are now is where you'll want to be in the future. Don't underestimate the impact you could have.