Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center
Charleston VA Chief of Staff wins John Chase Award
Dr. Florence Niles Hutchison, Chief of Staff at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston, S.C., has been recognized by a leading non-profit health care group for providing outstanding leadership in a number of roles during her 33-year VA career. AMSUS, the Society of Federal Health Professionals, is a membership-based organization and is considered one of the top associations supporting and representing military and other health care professionals.
Dr. Hutchison received the prestigious VA John D. Chase Award for Executive Excellence in Health Care, at the annual AMSUS conference at National Harbor, MD., in late November, presented by Dr. Carolyn Clancy, VHA’s Executive in Charge. The award was named after Dr. John D. Chase, who was Chief Medical Director of the Veterans Administration from 1974 to 1978.
Dr. Hutchison was one of the founders of the Lowcountry Federal Healthcare Alliance in a 12-year partnership with Navy Health Clinic Charleston, the 628th Medical Unit, Joint Base, Charleston and the Beaufort Navy Health Clinic, which has been recognized as one of the most successful VA-DoD partnerships providing high quality care to both Veterans and DOD beneficiaries while saving money for both Departments.
Among the leadership initiatives Dr. Hutchison has developed, she was recognized for initiating the VISN 7 Clinical Executive Leadership Program in which she trained and mentored over 100 clinicians to develop critical management and leadership skills, resulting in more than 40 clinicians moving into top leadership positions, including six current Chiefs of Staff across the country and numerous clinicians who serve as clinical service chiefs, on VHA Advisory Boards, or in national positions at the VA Central Office.
After receiving great leadership mentoring early in her career, she decided to develop a leadership program. As her career progressed, Dr. Hutchinson observed leadership training was not routinely offered for clinicians, and decided to develop a program to provide an intensive leadership training experience throughout VISN 7 so clinicians would be better prepared to serve in the VA health care system.
“Leadership training and mentoring is critically important for all clinical executives to have to enable them to be more effective in managing and delivering the best health care possible for Veterans,” Dr. Hutchison said.
“They don’t teach doctors how to be a leader in medical school,” Dr. Hutchison said. “It’s important for clinical leaders to learn how to motivate people and how to manage issues that come up that aren’t of a clinical nature when they are executives.
“I hope such training and mentoring will become a legacy in VA because it is most important for clinicians to become effective leaders as well as to have great clinical skills and to be able to pass those skills on to our next generation of clinical leaders.”