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Center Yourself During Your Career Pursuits

Dr. David A. Tam, President & CEO of Beebe Healthcare

David A. Tam, MD, MBA, FACHE, assumed the role of Beebe Healthcare President & CEO on March 17. He is a distinguished and accomplished administrator and has experiences as an officer in the United States Navy and in large public health systems. He completed his pediatrics residency at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Oakland, Calif., and a pediatric neurology fellowship at the Medical College of Virginia.

Stay True To Yourself

I’ve worked in large health care systems as part of the very populated state of California. I was part of the Navy for 25 years. But coming to Beebe Healthcare allowed me to look folks in the eye and see the difference I’m making every day. It was always something I longed for and when the opportunity came, despite the cross-country move, it has been a rewarding path.

Take Advantage Of Every Experience

I’m the first-born son of a Chinese immigrant and was expected to become a physician when I grew up, so I began working in hospitals early. I started as an orderly and worked in just about every job in a hospital. I think I have an advantage in this job being a physician. It’s accelerated my onboarding because I am comfortable going anywhere in the hospital or the outpatient clinics. The job of a CEO is to see whether things can be done differently to make it easier for team members and then work with the leadership team to execute those changes.

Recognize There Are Different Paths To Leadership

What kind of leader do you want to be? In your pursuit, you should learn that there are different types of leaders. Find yours and work to be better at the other styles. People are different and they respond differently to various leadership styles.

Communications Is A ‘Weapons System’

This past year, I’ve been reminded often of something I learned in the Navy – that communications is a “weapons system.” Our most recent example, communicating to the community about COVID-19, how we are doing as their health system, and why we encourage people to do the things needed to prevent spread. It takes an intelligent and inspired communications leader to help an organization find its way.

Plan For The Worst, Hope For The Best

Another Navy saying … I’ve had to evacuate hospitals and manage in crisis situations before – right after 9/11 and with wildfires in California, but you cannot be successful if you don’t have a plan that prepares for the worst-case scenario.

Thank Your Soldiers

No leader or CEO can be successful without their team. This extends beyond high-level staff. Connect with your entire team on a personal level – I share about my dog, trying scrapple, kids, etc. It helps team members feel like they know you, even if they have never met you.

Stop and Find Time To Make A Difference

John F. Kennedy said, “We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.” Ask yourself, what more can I do to give back to the people who give me the ability to be successful?

Remember Our Privilege

Sister Therese taught me that we are indeed privileged to be part of an important and sacred moment in people’s lives. From birth, to cancer, to life-threatening illness, and yes, death, but also everything in between. It’s something we must participate in with responsibility and dignity. It’s not something we take lightly in health care and it’s not just a job.

‘Here Be Dragons’

The old maps used by explorers often said “Here Be Dragons” when a place was unknown. Being a leader, there are challenges, and many of them unknown – don’t shy away from the dragons.

Make a Commitment to Your Wellbeing

As a health care professional, I would be remiss not to mention how important health is to be a good leader and professional. Leaders must take care of themselves if they are expected to take care of their staff. It’s a hard lesson. I admit that I am often cutting corners in my personal “rejuvenation” because there is always something to do with work. Being a CEO is a 24/7 responsibility, but I often must remind myself that I shouldn’t be working 24/7. I encourage all of you to take care of yourselves.