Someone You Should Know: Helping doctors become leaders

Published: Mar. 4, 2020 at 3:13 PM CST
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Avera Medical Group provides a special opportunity for its doctors. It’s a mentorship program that aims to help them become leaders in their clinics and hospitals.

The program is thanks, in part, to a former administrator and his plan is to stay involved, even though he's recently retired. We think he’s Someone You Should Know.

"How can we make sure that the quality of care is good, no matter where you enter our system. Whether that's here in Sioux Falls or one of our rural facilities like Flandreau."

Dr. Tad Jacobs has a passion for rural healthcare.

Dr. Jacobs practiced in Flandreau and still lives in that area. That helped prepare him to become the Chief Medical Officer of Avera Medical Group. A title he retired from on January 1st.

"I wouldn't have gotten involved on the administrative side of medicine had I not had 28 years of experience in rural America. That included ER that included OB, and all the things family practice doctors do in small towns."

These days he has one more mission left with Avera, to help other doctors become leaders. Dr. Jacobs was involved in the creation of and continues to help run the Avera Physician Leadership Academy.

"Just because you come to this class, and because you graduate, doesn't mean you're going to have a leadership role. But we stress the fact that we are all informal leaders in our clinics, in our communities."

Since 2012, 15 applicants have been chosen every year to participate. From September to April, Dr. Jacobs and the other members of the academy's core teamwork with doctors on leadership skills like self-awareness, strategic mindset, and communication.

They all meet for an overnight retreat once a month in Gary, South Dakota with assignments in-between.

"We have them do innovation projects where they focus on something that they think would be really an important thing for patient care or efficiency in the office."

Dr. Jacobs says thanks to the academy, doctors end up helping to identify issues that need to be addressed, including in rural areas.

"What can we do to help train and educate not only physicians, but nurses in those remote locations and how can we connect them with specialists who can oversee what's going on? And so we have our e-care stuff that we do, that's telemedicine, where we can remote in, that's a possibility. We have glidescopes now where the person on the camera can actually see what the person is looking at when they're trying to, let's say, put an endotracheal tube into somebody who can't breathe, those kinds of things, that was pretty remarkable."

Because he's now retired, this will be his final year with the academy.

"I feel very comfortable that this is all in good hands. At some point in time, you have to say the time has come, and that time is here."

And rural life has taken on a new meaning on the family farm.

"Now we get to play with our grandkids there."