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Bulldozing Barriers – All in a Day’s Work

Bulldozing Barriers – All in a Day’s Work

Ashley Mathews Physician Liaison, Director of Professional Outreach DeKalb Regional Medical CenterInspiration at an office managers’ luncheon led Ashley Mathews to a role that allows her to fulfill a dream—one of helping people and making a difference—by serving in the role of the physician liaison. Two years later, undoubtedly an Up-and-Comer, Ashley still finds passion in her position and believes being a physician liaison is the perfect job for her.

Up-and-Comers: New to the profession, the physician liaison has already demonstrated standout skills and received excellent reviews from CEOs, service line directors, and physicians. Working with providers and their office staff, the liaison is always prepared to deliver value, problem-solve, and communicate effectively. They utilize feedback to continuously improve.

How did you enter the liaison role?

I initially learned about the role while working as the Corporate Marketing Director for a network of community health centers. I attended an open-house and discussed the role with the liaison for Gadsden Regional at that time. I also had the opportunity to attend an office managers’ luncheon that included a presentation by Tammy Tiller-Hewitt. I was instantly inspired by her drive and enthusiasm, and I just knew that I had to work with her. The more I learned about the position, the more I knew that it was the perfect job for me! I received a call from two friends notifying me that the position had been posted, but it was for a different hospital in the same network. I immediately applied, and everything finally fell into place. I am now approaching two years as a liaison, and I am even more convinced that it is the perfect job for me.

What part of your job as a liaison do you love the most?

I love identifying and implementing solutions and strategies. My CEO has often referred to me as a bulldozer because he says I identify barriers and bulldoze them over.

What is the least favorite part of your job?

Documentation. I love having a lively conversation with a physician. Very often that generates a new set of to-do’s that I’m eager to help solve before even writing them down!

What is your most memorable accomplishment?

My most memorable accomplishment to-date is exceeding our Physician Satisfaction Survey score goals. Shortly after I was hired, I began observing cases in our OR. After being told by a few physicians that I wouldn’t be able to make any significant changes, I was determined to prove them wrong. I remember my CEO coming into my office and going over the survey results with me. We had both worked so hard, and we were so pleased to see by the increase in their satisfaction levels that the physicians had noticed.

What are the essential skills or qualities that help you succeed as a liaison?

Passion:  It is so important to love what you do. My passion for my job and success keeps me going when I experience a roadblock or setback. I also believe that my co-workers and the physicians know that I truly care and want to make a difference. People can sense when you don’t believe in what you are “selling.”
Integrity: My father has always instilled the importance of integrity. He was a business owner, and I grew up watching him always do the right thing, even if it was much more expensive or difficult. If people don’t trust you to do what you say you are going to do or to do the right thing when no one is looking, then you cannot succeed.

As the role of liaison has evolved – what has changed the most?

Liaisons have become more respected. We have distinguished ourselves from other reps and become accepted as someone people can depend on to get things done. Physicians and others have learned that we aren’t here to just bring cookies and a flyer. They have learned that we are here to help improve the hospital for the physicians, patients, and employees. They witness us achieving goals, overcoming obstacles, and removing barriers.

What future steps in your career path look most appealing to you?

There are opportunities in health care to help make a difference without necessarily being in a clinical position. Growing up, I always knew I wanted to help people; but I have always been drawn to the many facets of a business. Working in hospital administration allows me to suggest and implement processes and procedures that may improve the hospital-experience for physicians and patients. I hope my future allows me to continue to pursue this avenue while advancing my career.

What advice do you have for your “younger self” and for your “future self?”

To my younger self, I say, “Trust yourself. Know that you are on the right path and that all the ups and downs you go through will get you to where you need to be. Enjoy the process instead of worrying and stressing.”

I would advise my “future self” to stay young! There is always time for a little fun. And, never stop questioning—there is always more to learn. Don’t accept everything as it seems. Trust your gut.

Whom do you consider to be a mentor?

My supervisor at my first job after college. She has supported me since day one. She taught me so much about working hard and efficiently but also about slowing down and paying attention to the details. She is a very successful and hard-working woman in health care but has also managed to make time to be a wonderful mother.

If you could leave a legacy to your successor, your hospital or community: what would it be?

I would like to be remembered for striving for improvement, whether professionally or personally. There is always room for improvement and things are constantly changing. It is important to always look for ways to be better than you were yesterday.

In a nutshell – why did you become a liaison?

I became a liaison because it allows me to do what I love: work with people, make a difference, and set and achieve goals.

In what ways has the Tiller-Hewitt program made a difference in your professional journey?

The Tiller-Hewitt program gave me all the tools and training needed to confidently and effectively be successful as a liaison. I wasn’t just thrown to the wolves. My coach has been there to assist me every step of the way. She used her experience as a successful liaison and offered problem-specific advice and tools to address various situations. I learned how to prepare for the unexpected and how to identify barriers before they reached the problematic stage.

Just yesterday, during a tour with a physician, I was asked several questions that I would never have been prepared to answer if it wasn’t for Tiller-Hewitt’s training.

The Tiller-Hewitt Data Report was also very beneficial. It allowed me to properly focus my efforts while measuring my success. Our hospital experienced substantial growth due to the liaison program—knowing what to expect, how to prepare, and how to use proven tactics to achieve our goals.

The Liaison Legacy series celebrates the 15th anniversary of Tiller-Hewitt HealthCare Strategies by offering a forum for sharing best practices. Learn more about how we can help you leave a strong legacy within your profession, hospital, and community.