Administrator and Research Coordinator, Division of Hospital Medicine
Nominators, Marisa Rodriguez and Dr. Vineet Chopra: "Carla is a superlative colleague, who has the crucial qualities of high reliability, follow-through, attention to detail, and strong initiative with the wisdom to seek guidance when necessary. We trust her and could not have gotten through this year so effectively without her! She is as much a part of the success in responding to hospital medicine’s COVID staffing response as any of our divisional leaders. We are fortunate to have Carla part of our team."
Carla has been a member of the Division of Hospital Medicine since January 2019. She currently serves as the Division’s Clinical Schedule and Research Coordinator, a role that was created to help support a number of key needs, including our increasingly complex 24/7 clinical schedule and as well as provide local pre-award grant support to our investigators.
Carla has grown tremendously during her tenure in Hospital Medicine, both in her professional learnings and in the scale of her responsibilities. What has remained constant however are Carla’s many great qualities, including her curiosity, humility, positive attitude, willingness to help, and her humor.
Perhaps the most poignant of the many examples of Carla’s exemplary work performance is her efforts when our division was called upon to respond to the COVID pandemic. We leaned heavily on Carla to attend weekly after-hour meetings to enact the latest schedule changes for us to meet the ever-changing (and sometimes daily changing) clinical demands that the epidemic required. This required the reoccurring adjustment of hundreds of shifts for nearly every faculty and advanced practice providers throughout the entire last year. Not only did these changes affect our faculty, Carla was intimately involved with engaging faculty from other Divisions and Departments, all of whom were deputized to Hospital Medicine for the pandemic. This work involved countless hours, often leading into the evenings, nights and weekends. During all of this, Carla whole heartedly rose to the occasion and demonstrated resilience in the face of challenge. She consistently executed this important work without complaint, and in fact, was a model of poise and grace in the midst of uncertainty and incredible stress and workload. She also added valuable insights to our plans, as detailed further in our examples below.
Carla has been an amazing force in our division. We could not have gotten through this year so effectively without her! She is as much a part of the success in responding to hospital medicine’s COVID staffing response as any of our divisional leaders. We are fortunate to have Carla part of our team.
The role Carla played in responding to COVID with our clinical schedule this year is a paramount example of her leadership. When hospital medicine was deployed to the RICU, Carla partnered with our Division Chief to create weekly day/night coverage schedules that flexed to meet patient demands. For example, in the early days of the RICU, only one day and one night provider was needed. Carla was able to navigate faculty effort, scheduling software, our volunteer list to identify who could serve in the RICU in this initial capacity. As patient volumes rose, the complexity of finding faculty similarly rose. As busy as our clinical teams were, Carla took it upon herself to coordinate schedules with faculty leads in Med-Peds to help develop a sustainable and scalable model for the RICU. She did this selflessly, without being nudged or prompted – as she innately knew that the need for more faculty and support would arise. In addition to the RICU, Carla has also demonstrated leadership through her recently gained responsibility of creating and managing the clinical schedule for our new cohort of Advanced Practice Providers (APP). Carla partnered effectively with the Division’s APP Manager to design an APP schedule that provides employee satisfaction and meets the continuity needs of a clinical operation that is new to working with APPs. Carla’s interest and willingness to tackle new schedule learnings has demonstrated leadership and maturity in its own right.
Through Carla’s leadership she has been able to build tremendous trust with our clinical providers. The schedule for our Division is often one of the faculty’s greatest pain points, as shifts can be scheduled during time off requests or when otherwise not convenient for our team. Time and time again, Carla approaches each of these conversations and issues with open-mindedness, supportive suggestions, and follow-through. The trust she has gained has also enabled capacity to be created among clinical leaders, who otherwise would be knee-deep and overloaded in clinical schedule detail, to take on other important responsibilities, thus allowing them to grow further as physician leaders too.
The clinical schedule is by and large among the most important priorities to our 120+ faculty and nearly 40 APPs. To give a sense of the enormity of our schedule, our QGenda representative from the national scheduling vendor has noted, “hospitalist schedules are the most complicated schedules to develop – and [your division’s] schedule is the among the most complicated that we handle”. This unenviable responsibility of managing our clinical schedule requires a sense of fairness for the individual and the greater good, levelheadedness, and flexibility.
As a physician leader describes, “Carla possesses an exceptional can-do attitude and routinely goes above and beyond in her scheduling role for the Division. She is universally thoughtful, accommodating, and always does everything in her power to assist faculty regardless of circumstance. She is well organized and serves as a tremendous resource for others. Over the past year, she has spearheaded efforts to adapt a busy inpatient schedule to accommodate the demands of COVID, while simultaneously balancing the wellbeing of individual faculty. As a recent addition to the scheduling team, I have learned a great deal from Carla and always appreciate her expertise, patience, and collegial spirit.”
Another example of how Carla demonstrates customer service is when she handles grants and discussions with junior and senior researchers. Carla approaches each of these with a willingness to understand what the proposal entails, where it will be submitted and how she can help. She also provides structure and support to the faculty member to ensure they understand the grant process. Most recently, she developed a timeline and a checklist for faculty submitting grants and has effectively used this to organize our process. Carla’s thoughtfulness, dedication and focus on a clear process enables the Division to have strong on-time grant submissions rates in the Department.
This year Carla has taken on the role of co-lead for a newly established faculty schedule workgroup with the goal of identifying continuous optimization opportunities for the schedule. Not only is this a great opportunity for Carla’s ongoing leadership development journey, but she has already worked with the group to identify improvements to incorporate into the next schedule build, such as more options for faculty holiday preferences. Carla has therefore brought a human element into an otherwise robotic and mechanical process – one that helps provide a focus on wellness and sustainability of our faculty.
In the words of one of our physician leaders: “Carla is a superlative colleague, who has the crucial qualities of high reliability, follow-through, attention to detail, and strong initiative with the wisdom to seek guidance when necessary. We trust her with our schedule and our research projects – arguably the two most sensitive and important areas of administration within our division.”
On the clinical side, the Division of Hospital Medicine continues to evolve and innovate in clinical areas with the most recent addition being the launch of moderate care services and the Chelsea hospitalist service. What is important to understand here is that faculty have preferences on where they choose to spend clinical time – and thus a certain type of faculty member may prefer caring for unstable patients whereas others may prefer a community-based care setting. Carla has worked with clinical leaders to identify faculty and place them into roles based on their preference through a series of performance improvements. First, she enhanced our effort survey – one that seeks to understand where a faculty would like to spend their clinical time. Next, she developed a process to coordinate these decisions across service lines and leadership, thus ensuring transparent and clear communication for all involved. An important element of this process improvement are “yellow flags” – faculty that may not be getting their effort in a certain space or those that are otherwise wanting changes. Carla surfaces these early in planning conversations – intrinsically because she has come to know many faculty and thus has devised ways to address problems before they even begin.
Carla has also “tweaked” many processes within the research space to ensure productivity and efficiency. One example is the checklist and process map she built for timely research submissions – one that she shares with all junior faculty as they work on their grant submissions. Another example of a process improvement opportunity lies in her working with our Divisional leadership on our research budget and funding. Carla leads a quarterly meeting where she presents the state of our research activities, planned and proposed submissions and areas where there are gaps. She has also started to proactively circulate RFAs among faculty – a process that she developed on her own to ensure more timely grant communication.