Stephen J. Welch was officially appointed Executive Vice President and CEO in April after serving as the interim for both positions since May 2016. Here’s a little “inside look” at what Steve is all about.
What is one major accomplishment you hope to achieve as Executive Vice President & Chief Executive Officer?
My goal as EVP/CEO is fairly simple and straightforward: to ensure the organization remains relevant and viable as a leader in providing clinically focused, innovative educational programs and content. I don’t really have one accomplishment that I’m focused on, but I do want to ensure that we achieve our annual organizational goals that support CHEST’s strategic plan. That may sound a little vague, but it’s true. We have so many outstanding programs and initiatives that I’d be doing a disservice to identify a single goal.
How does your previous experience with CHEST help you successfully lead the organization?
With CHEST being a not-for-profit organization, which relies on volunteer leadership and faculty, I think the relationships I’ve built over the past 23 years within the organization and the chest medicine community are invaluable. I personally know so many of our leadership because I’ve been part of the organization at the executive level working with them for those 23 years. They know me and how I approach opportunities, address issues, and handle challenges, which has helped build an immediate level of mutual respect, trust, and confidence between the staff and leadership. In addition, there was no disruption from having someone come in from the outside and have to get up to speed. It made the transition pretty seamless for the staff, as well.
During my time at CHEST, I’ve seen how the organization operates, from the journal, to the annual meeting and board reviews, to the simulation and hands-on skills training, to operational activities like the management of our finances and new global headquarters and training center. I’ve also had the opportunity to meet with many of our international members and sister societies. Those experiences have allowed me to work closely with many of our faculty, authors, and educators to understand their educational and professional needs, so we can ensure that we meet them.
CHEST is only as good as the education we provide, and it’s our subject matter experts who drive that content engine. In my previous role leading the Publishing Division and working on our journal CHEST® and programs like SEEK, I’ve had the honor and pleasure of working with some of the greatest minds in pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine. It’s humbling.
What will be some of the underlying themes as you work to outline the strategic plan for the next 5 years?
We are in the final stages of planning for 2018 and beyond, and although our proposed roadmap isn’t significantly different than what we have been doing, there’s some greater emphasis on a few key areas. For example, we’re looking at innovations in educational delivery. We’ve got some very forward thinking faculty educators and staff who are collaborating to develop innovations like gamification of educational and simulation programs, and augmented reality. Globalization and growth are also a key part of our strategic plan, and we are committed to the broad delivery of our educational programs and content both here and around the world. Finally, we have invested in a data analytics project that is maturing, and we’ll be leveraging that information to provide more personalized education plans – not just for the physician but for the entire health-care team. It’s important for us to stay relevant and viable.
Why has CHEST shifted to an interdisciplinary, team-focused approach?
I look at it as simply an evolution that reflects how health care is changing. It’s a team sport now, and our advanced practice providers (APPs) play a huge role in patient management and care. To be as effective and efficient as possible, and ensure the best patient outcomes, the whole team needs to be on the same page, and we believe that providing education for the interdisciplinary care team will help ensure that the best patient care is delivered.
There’s also a need for this education, and we want to fill it. Our APPs tell us that there is no formal pulmonary training or post-masters fellowship in pulmonary medicine for them. They are often left on their own to fill any gaps in knowledge and skills. That’s where our CHEST programs, such as our CHEST Annual Meeting, come in. We have an Interprofessional NetWork made up of APPs and physicians, and they were integral in working with the CHEST 2017 Program Committee to ensure plenty of relevant content was offered. Moving forward, we will continue to offer and build interdisciplinary programs designed for the entire team, as well as programs that address clinical issues across disciplines.