Published: Apr 15, 2021
6:00 AM: Wake up, hit the treadmill for 30 minutes, shower, grab a quick breakfast, and head to work. The hospital is close to public transportation, so I take the subway. I use this time to read up on industry news in Healthcare Executive, Journal of Healthcare Management, and Modern Healthcare. Reading about all the great things that are happening in the industry gets me pumped up for the day.
8:00 AM: I arrive at work and meet with my executive secretary to go over the agenda for the day and week. She goes over all the typical meetings, events, and issues, but also reminds me that I have a mentoring meeting with a young executive this afternoon.
8:30 AM: I attend a Board of Directors’ Strategic Planning Committee meeting; we cover mostly long-term infrastructure planning.
9:00 AM: Check e-mails and voicemails and respond to physicians, board of directors, and management staff members. I receive approximately 250 e-mails and voice-mails a day. It’s important to prioritize and focus on the key ones, where if I don’t respond, the new MRI machine doesn’t get approved, the regional partnership with two other hospitals doesn’t happen, etc.
9:30 AM: I meet with the vice president of finance and staff to review preliminary financial results for prior month. I also check in on several department budget meetings. Each department is preparing a proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year. This budget season is especially challenging given some new laws in our state and the competitive landscape in the hospital industry.
10:30 AM: I make rounds on medical and surgical units to speak with attending physicians, nurses, and support staff. I do this at least once a day in different areas of the hospital (from neonatal ICU, to admissions, to the maintenance department) to observe the work flow and interact with staff. These conversations may take a few minutes, or they may lead to a more formal meeting to discuss an issue at length. Issues and concerns range from the need for new equipment, additional staff requirements, and quality of care issues to things as mundane as parking and the plants in the waiting rooms. We also have quarterly employee communications forums that allow me to spend a dedicated period of time addressing employee concerns, recognizing “Employees of the Month,” and getting to know some of the hospital’s 5,000 workers.
11:30 AM: Return phone calls from physicians, vice president of human resources, vice president of nursing, and director of local business organization.
12:30 PM: I attend Womens’ Auxiliary luncheon and update members on events and developments at the hospital.
1:30 PM: Meet with chief operating officer and chief nursing officer to discuss plans to expand outpatient services.
2:30 PM: I meet with architects to review plans for a new ambulatory surgery suite. The plan is to create a 23,000-square-foot facility (double the current size), which will feature state-of-the-art operating rooms, recovery areas, and a pre-surgical testing suite. I’m excited that we’ll be able to provide such a quality facility for our patients. I make a note to discuss the new facility with our public relations department. We’re always looking for an edge in this competitive market, and this is a great way to educate the public about our services and facilities.
3:30 PM: Conference call with hospital association and other CEOs to discuss our response to proposed reimbursement reductions. We decide to form a committee to address this issue.
4:00 PM: I meet for a 30-minute mentoring opportunity with one of our promising young executives. We have coffee in the hospital cafeteria and discuss her career interests and goals. I strongly encourage her to get more involved with professional associations in our industry. They are an excellent way to raise your profile, learn new skills through continuing education, and help others (via volunteering).
4:45 PM: Prepare monthly report for presentation at upcoming board of directors’ meeting.
6:00 PM: Attend and speak at a fund-raising dinner event for a local charitable organization.
9:30 PM: I leave the fundraiser and swing by the hospital for an impromptu walk-through of a few departments. Tonight, it’s the emergency department (ER) and the cardiac critical care unit. I do this about once a week. My goals isn’t to surprise people, but to see how things work during different times in the day. It’s a busy night in the ER, so I lend a hand for about an hour—pushing gurneys, facilitating communication between the ER and other departments, etc. Our staff is top-notch, and I note that they’ve performed quite well under duress.
11:00 PM: I finally arrive home. It’s been a long day, but I take a moment to check e-mail and voice-mail—just to make sure that there aren’t any fires that need to be put out or questions that need to be answered. Our chief operating officer has called with a few questions about our plans to expand outpatient services. I know he likes to get an early start, so I spend some time responding to his queries via e-mail so that he can get a head start on the project tomorrow morning and we’ll be ready to meet once I get to the hospital.
11:30 PM: Bedtime.
Generally speaking, there is no "typical day" for a physical therapist, since career paths and daily routines vary so widely. After two or three years of general practice, a physical therapist may find a special area of interest and devote energy and training to a specific patient population or specific treatment technique.
Olivia Breef, RN, BSN, OCN, is a charge nurse in the oncology department at Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center. At the youthful age of 27, she has her oncology nursing certification (OCN) and manages a staff of TK nurses on her nightly shift from 11 p.m.
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