From the Corner Office: Ardis Dee Hoven, MD

Corner Office-ArdisEach month, Medical News catches up with a hospital or health system leader to learn about their organization, interests, favorite pieces of advice and healthcare issues that ruffle their feathers most.

Meet Ardis Dee Hoven, MD, chair of Council, World Medical Association (WMA); immediate past president, American Medical Association (AMA)

Just the Facts

Hometown: Lexington, Ky.

Family: Husband, Ronald Sanders, two grandsons, Roan and Neo Thomas

Hobbies: Walking the beach on Kiawah Island, South Carolina, needlepoint, gardening and traveling.

Currently Reading: I am by nature a problem solver, so mysteries old and new.

What do you consider your greatest talent or skill?

I am a consensus builder and skillful at leading the discussion in such a manner as to facilitate the development of consensus. This frequently is not easy when dealing with highly opinionated and successful individuals. I can be quite deliberate in advice, but always careful to recognize that I may not have all the answers and thus willing to listen and learn from others.

Recognizing that the minority opinion may be the correct opinion is something we all have to recognize in our work. Being able to do this is a learned skill, and to this day, many of my colleagues have not identified this as a behavior that is appropriate.

Were you in leadership roles when you were younger?

The leadership part of me really emerged during the onset of the AIDS epidemic in the US. As an Infectious Disease (ID) specialist in my community, it fell on me to provide the care and also educate and guide my colleagues throughout the state. This was true for ID physicians throughout the US.  Not only was this a horrific illness for those infected or affected, the political and social issues were equally as disturbing. Providing reasonable information and guidance became a daily activity for many of us. Out of this work, came leadership in my local community, at the Kentucky Medical Association and ultimately at the AMA.

Any feedback you’ve gotten over the years about your leadership style that made you think: “Fair point, I’m going to make an adjustment”?

I don’t recall anything specific, but over the years learning to listen became very important. And it is not always what is said but how it is said. A good leader develops an intuitive method to sense what is meant or what the concern is. One of my mentors would remind us that although it is important for everything to be said, not everyone has to say it. Talking less and listening more has been a valuable tool.

What about lessons you learned from mentors?

I have had two types of mentors. The first is the physician mentor during my early years of education and training and the second are the mentors I have had along the way in organized medicine.

Physician mentors were the teachers of medicine whom I wanted to emulate. The way they treated patients, the way they solved the problems of their patients and the way they communicated to patients and to others became for me the standards that I wished to achieve. To this day, I hear them speak and I see them care for their patients.

I have been guided and advised by many amazing people throughout my career. Learning patience, tolerance, a respect for the minority opinion and knowing that you can’t and don’t know everything are so important. Learning to be wise is something I strive for every day.

What do you hope to achieve during your tenure at WMA?

I learned from Sir Michael Marmot, soon-to-be president of the WMA, the importance of the social determinants of health. During my work at WMA, I intend to help him facilitate his efforts and provide the platform that will continue even after his presidency is completed.

There is the potential for the WMA to have an even greater voice in the world around such issues as access to high quality care, recognizing disparities and doing something about it, providing and maintaining the ethics of healthcare in our world and protecting healthcare workers. There is much to be accomplished and as chair of the Council, it will be my opportunity to guide the organization as it works to achieve its goals.

How do you revitalize yourself?

Setting goals and getting the work done in an efficient manner is important. The feeling of getting the job done be it small or large and doing it well, allows then for some refreshing time be it a trip to the beach, a visit to the spa or time with family and friends. Procrastination is the most hazardous thing for health, both physical and mental. I have been blessed with the ability to sleep well, and I have recognized that meditation and prayer are vital in my daily life.

Although having a very successful career and a wonderful and supportive family, I did not do a good job of preserving my interests in music and maintaining an active sport. I encourage younger physicians and medical students to try and wedge other interests outside of medicine into their routines.