ANGEL EVANS, MBA
Director Physician Relations / Medical Staff Development
Advocate Trinity Hospital
Director Physician Relations / Medical Staff Development
Advocate Trinity Hospital
1. Please, tell me a little about yourself? What is your story?
I am a military brat. I grew up in the military, as my dad was an Air Force Officer. As a result we travelled quite a bit when I was a child. I was born in Sacramento, California, but from young age, we travelled and lived in different places. I spent time in Europe: middle school in Italy and in England is where I graduated from high school before I came back to California to do my undergraduate work. My initial inclination was on the medical side and I started off as a Pre- Vet student, but I soon realized that research on animals was not something I would like to get involved in. I was too much of an animal lover and did not like the idea of killing animals for the sake of science. I decided to move to Pre-med and finished my undergrad as a Pre-Med student and also attempted to minor in the arts.
After graduating, I did an externship, with Dr. Larry Faines, who was initially my mentor and I shadowed him at Northwestern Memorial Hospital (NMH). He is an emergency medicine Physician at NMH. In my first day with him I got to see a trauma victim who was a gunshot victim; they brought him in, cracked open his chest, and squeezed and massaged his heart. I was fascinated but also introspective – I had to ask, “Do I really see myself doing this?” I ended doing serious soul searching and came to a conclusion that I did not want to get involved in the clinical side of medicine.
I love healthcare and I wanted to stay involved, so I decided to pursue the business side of Healthcare. I completely re-engineered my goals and aspirations. It was almost a rude awakening that everything that I focused on until that point was on to become a doctor, but then I decided to change course. So, as the story goes, I got into a Master’s program for Health Law and Policy at DePaul University. In 2003, I graduated with my Master’s degree – I was still at NMH, working in Physicians Services. There were a couple of opportunities to for me to move into different roles after graduation. I moved from Health Resources Consultant to the position of Physician Representative. Within this role I took on the liaison responsibility and became the physician Informatics Coach. I was responsible for teaching all the medical staff, fellows, and residents the EMR system (Cerner/PowerChart). I was involved in all the ‘go-lives’ as we implemented the system throughout the entire organization. This involved end-user support, design recommendations, and workflow changes required to accommodate the physicians’ needs.
After a while I realized I needed to pursue advancement opportunities. Therefore, I decided to take the risk and leave NMH to pursue opportunities elsewhere. I was recruited over to Ingalls Memorial Hospital where I was the Project Manager for Enterprise Information Systems; this actually helped me improve my skills in Project Management and working with teams to understand how resources are used, defining and prioritizing projects, and working and contracting with vendors. It was very valuable experience, but it took me away from working with physicians, which I enjoyed. So, I started investigating other opportunities and was ultimately recruited as the Director of Physician Services at Methodist Hospitals, in Gary and Merryville, Indiana. At Methodist I learned procedures in physician acquisitions, building pro-formas, and financial planning for physician practice development. After a couple of intense years, I was recruited over to Advocate Health Care, first at the South Suburban Hospital and I am now at Trinity Hospital. All of my role has been completely around physician engagement and involved growth, recruitment, retention, clinical program alignment.
2. What is something that most people do not know about you?
I consider myself as in artist, although I have not been practicing my artistic skills since I have engrossed myself in my career. However, art was my original love along with the sciences. I like to paint. Other than that, I am a nature girl by heart, when I go on vacations, I prefer hiking and biking as opposed to just sitting on the beach. I don’t get a chance to do all of these things, but I certainly love them.
3. When have you been most satisfied in your life?
My relationship with my parents is something that satisfies me the most. They are a godsend and I don’t know how I would be if they weren’t in my life. The lord knows that I hope they stay healthy enough for as long as possible because I don’t know what I would do without them.
4. Most people have a list of things of they like to do, but what are the things that you do not like to do?
Hummm that is a good question and a tough one. I remember when I first started working at NMF and I was in patient financial services. Being in that capacity, I realized that’s not the direction, I wanted to take in my career- I did not want to be on the finance side. Although I am great with numbers, I will definitely say that career wise I would not want to be an underwriter, a comptroller, or working in accounting. I like to stay more on the strategy side of things.
5. Could you please tell me about a specific accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career?
I will have to say that it’s getting through my Master’s degree and becoming financially independent. When I came to Chicago from California, I had $250 to my name and a lot of credit card debt on top of pretty hefty student loans. Moving into higher positions afforded me the opportunity to build up my finances and pay off my credit cards debt. I would have to say the most fulfilling time in my life, was when I wrote the last check to rid myself of the credit card dept. I was able to do so by completing my degree and being in a position to be considered for higher positions and achieving higher compensation. I now am able to afford my education, my house, my car, and be able to save. I worked full time and also went to school full time. I sacrificed a lot of my personal social life to get that done, but I did it and was able to achieve personal and financial stability all within a year.
6. Please tell me about a time when things didn't go the way you wanted-- like a promotion you wanted and didn't get, or a project that didn't turn out how you had hoped.
That happens all the time. I would have to say that I set my bar high and maybe I am overly aggressive with my pursuits. One of things I have realized is that I have to be happy with my progress. As long as you are heading in the right direction, you have to celebrate the small wins in the life and acknowledge the progress. When I was NMH, after I had decided I was not going to medical school, I had a job but wasn’t getting paid a lot, but I had a job. This was before I decided I was going to get a Master’s degree in business or Healthcare Administration. So whenever I would put my name up for promotion, I was always told “if you just had that degree completed.” I made a commitment to myself that nobody is going hold that against me ever again; I made a commitment to myself to get the degree. The whole thing just made me more motivated and built up my tenacity to get it done.
As far as projects are concerned, in my world, projects are always tied to other people. We do not do anything independently so I think the question to answer would be “did the project turn out the way we intended it to be?” – so the team has to be in agreement with where we are going and how we are going to get there. It has to be collaborative understanding – that is a lesson I learnt and still learning.
7. We're constantly trying to make healthcare better, faster, smarter or less expensive. We leverage technology or improve processes. In other words, we strive to do more - with less. Tell me about a recent project or problem that you made better, faster, smarter, more efficient, or less expensive.
This is interesting- my actual research dissertation is about efficiency and how we sustain it in the Healthcare environment. In my direct accountability, I would have to say that we need to constantly leverage technology to improve our processes. We have to think critically about it because garbage in garbage out- so we have to work smart. When it comes to getting things done I am not a proponent of anything done manually. I file everything electronically. I am a true spirit of tying to embrace technology to be more efficient in what I do and how I respond to my stake holders and those who depend on me. I think everyone need to adopt “doing more with less.”
8. Who is your role model and why?
I have been following in the footsteps of my father. I think my father and I have similar interests and aspirations as far as our careers. Therefore he is my role model. Watching him go through his doctorate, I wanted to do it too. He has been instrumental to a lot of people’s careers and a great mentor as well.
9. What is the quality you most admire in others?
Engagement – when I say that word, I mean how people interact. The best thing for me is to break down all barriers that limit our ability to communicate. I like when people give eye contact and engage in conversations or discussions. I like engagement and inclusion- someone who has that characteristic of being open and interested in others. The people I tend to be most interested in are those who are not stand-offish and easily approachable. They are friendly; they give eye-contact and are humble enough to reach out irrespective of their position. Leaders like that make you feel as if you are important and part of their team.
10. What has surprised you most about working in Healthcare?
The biggest surprise is the level of disparity that I see from community to community, hospital to hospital, and also that it seems acceptable in some people’s minds. I just don’t quite understand how somebody could look at certain community and look at the healthcare services available in the inner cities and rural America and actually think that it is an acceptable form of healthcare. People’s perception of quality is also something that used to surprise me especially early on in my career.
11. If we're sitting here a year from now, celebrating what a great year it's been for you, what did we achieve?
I just started a new position at Advocate Trinity and a year from now, what would want to have achieved is identifying and embracing a cohort of physicians who are committed to communities in the southeast side of Chicago and are committed to Advocate Trinity’s growth and success. Achieving that level of engagement from our physicians drives the perception of our organization, drives the growth and financial viability of the organization. It will also help bring in additional dollars for us to be able to grow and serve the community with new technology and updated facilities.
12. Finally, any word of advice / wisdom to fellow members and colleagues?
Don’t do too much too quickly, as it may result in all things being done mediocre. I believe in prioritizing and working on high impact, high priority projects and getting them done. I think we in healthcare tend to take on too much. It is understandable because there is so much to do. However we must realize that there are only 24 hours in each day. So my biggest advice is to focus and prioritize. On the personal side, I would like to say “don’t forget about you”. Make time to do things you like to do, and take care of yourself – You are no good to your family or your organization if you are not healthy and balanced in your mind, body, and spirit. This is a journey of course; I’m not implying that I’ve mastered the full work life balance that I desire. It is something I’m committed to.