We recently sat down with Leah Gassett and learned more about her experience in GME planning, academic strategy, and programmatic and business plan development. Get to know Leah in this Q&A.
Q: How did you get into healthcare management consulting?
A: I worked for a large academic safety-net healthcare provider for about five years in information services and technology and knew that I very much wanted to stay in healthcare. I knew that I was interested in problem solving but was looking to branch out beyond IT work. So I looked at opportunities within provider organizations, as well as in public policy and consulting, and determined that this was the best fit for my personality and skills.
Q: How did you become interested specifically in GME, education, and research?
A: I started at ECG within our Academic Healthcare Division because my prior experience was working in largely academic settings. I had some familiarity with clinical training programs but started out at ECG, like most senior consultants do, on a variety of different kinds of projects within AMCs. Then, over time, I had the opportunity to work on more and more education-focused projects.
I liked the work, and I really enjoy the combination of academia, healthcare, and public policy—the policy piece is significant because so much medical education is funded via public sources. I am fortunate to have the chance to work on all of these different topics within one focus area here at ECG.
Q: What is the biggest challenge in your service area facing healthcare organizations today?
A: I would say certainly funding and other cost pressures are challenging, as they are across probably every service area that we work in. And then more uniquely to medical education, there’s still a significant disconnect between more traditional educational models that reflect current or past models of healthcare delivery and the need for a workforce that can accommodate rapid change and uncertainty about future care delivery models. Health systems and universities are striving to better integrate the educational process and ensure that it supports future workforce needs.
Q: What is the most interesting challenge you’ve faced as a consultant?
A: When we are asked to advise a client and we find a significant misalignment of perspectives within the client organization. Achieving solutions that appeal to multiple points of view and solve different needs for various constituencies is challenging work but also some of the most rewarding. The work that goes into building consensus and finding an implementable solution given unique local dynamics is professionally satisfying and strengthens our connection with the client.
Q: What is a particularly rewarding project or type of project that you’ve worked on?
A: We often work with communities and hospitals that have severe physician shortages or lack local medical education. As part of our work with one hospital in an underserved rural area, we were able to secure a state grant for, and then help them to start, a new family medicine training program.
They now have a functioning program that will graduate primary care physicians every year who ultimately will go on to mitigate access issues and address the healthcare needs of people in nearby communities. While this project is small in scale compared to others, the impact that it will have on this community for years to come is significant and tangible and reminds me why our work is important.
Q: What are the publications you read to keep up to date on healthcare issues?
A: Specific to my practice area, Academic Medicine and the Journal of Graduate Medical Education. Beyond that, I read select articles from HealthLeaders, the Wall Street Journal, and Health Affairs.
Q: What do you do outside of the office?
A: I enjoy spending time with my husband and three children, especially when we are able to be outdoors swimming, hiking, and relaxing. As time allows, I also volunteer to support school and other community programs.