New Headwaters Chief of Staff is a dedicated professional

October 29, 2014   ·   0 Comments

Determination and a strong dedication to the medical profession, as a leader, an administrator and a clinician brought Dr. Somaiah Ahmed to the position of Chief of Staff and Vice President of Medical Affairs of Headwaters Health Care Centre, as of September 12, 2014.

“My parents always pushed me to excel at my studies,” she admitted, adding that she did so in mathematics and sciences.

It was her ambition to work as a family practitioner. She studied family medicine at the University of Toronto in the rural program. Upon graduation, she worked “with various physicians, in ER, et cetera.”

She told us, “From the beginning, I wanted to work in a small town. I lived with my family in Hamilton. So, I came here in 2009 and worked in the ER. I loved caring for people.”

In 2010, Dr. Ahmed started her own practice while still doing shifts in the ER. The following year, she was appointed ER Chief and, as she said, “I stayed with it until the Chief of Staff appointment came up.”

During her administration as ER Chief, Dr. Ahmed wanted to concentrate on the patients and the kind of care they were receiving and the time it took to give that care. Surely part of her success is her intense interest in the well being of patients in more than simply tending to their wounds and illnesses. While working in the ER, she analysed the way in which patients were triaged and dealt with. She was always on the hunt for better ways to move them in and through.

“Our hospital has been one of the top three hospitals [in Ontario] for wait times,” she was pleased to advise us.

When asked how does this happen and not happen, she replied, “As a patient, you need to remember you never know what’s going to happen. Your crisis is your crisis but if 50 people come in at once…” she said, leaving this mental picture to tell its own story.

She explained that in the last three years, the ER has been divided into two zones: acute and rapid assessment, namely, stitches, casts, abdominal pain – not exposed to infection.

She commented with reference to a doctor shortage, “When you look at the big picture, we are very fortunate here. We are performing well when we look at patient data; we’ve increased our nursing staff.”

Smiling, she told us, “We were awarded for our performance with a one-time funding for our performance.”

To be sure, Dr. Ahmed applied for the position of Chief of Staff and was successful in her ambition but this accomplishment only came after considerable hard work and further studies on her part. To understand the mechanics of this apparent meteoric rise within the structure of the hospital, we asked more about her remarkable background.

Although there are no medics in her family, she was supported and encouraged by them to excel at her studies. It established in her a habit of studying and she had pressed ahead with further courses throughout her working here. It is in her nature, to be ambitious for leadership roles and, so, she has continued her education through the Canadian Medical Association Physician Management Institute leadership programs.

Some of these courses were Leading Change; Conflict and Negotiation; Self Awareness as a Leader; Difficult Behaviours in Physicians and Engaging Others.

“As Chief of Staff and VP Medical Affairs, one of my roles is to really engage in the processes that happen here,” Dr. Ahmed remarked. “I have to serve as a conduit of information.”

We looked at the path that had brought her to this point in so few years.

She said, “I’ve been working hard to end where I am. When I was a Resident, I was the leader of the residents’ association. As ER Chief, I engaged in Canadian courses designed for a physician to be a leader. They covered identifying your strengths, change management, conflict resolution. The ER is the gateway to the hospital’s systems. We have to look at how the ER plays its role but then rest of the system has to work too.

“As Chief, I worked in the ER; I still have a small family practice. I have to make sure I have all the priorities.”

She noted with a nod, “Medicine is a changing world.”

For Dr. Ahmed, “Learning is an ongoing thing. I have two courses at the end of this month that deal with finances and managing people.”

In her view, the leader deals with the big picture while a manager handles the day to day business.

With such a robust career to date, we did ask about her ambitions.

“To develop myself as a leader and administrator. I think always as a clinician.

“I’m committed to being here. This is a natural position where I can see both sides of medicine and the politics.

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