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Profiles in Leadership: Top 25 Minority Executives


Kimberlydawn Wisdom overcame obstacles; now, she helps her community do the same

By | December 4th, 2012 | Blog | Add A Comment


Kimberlydawn Wisdom: “As an emergency medicine physician, the community comes to you in various states of disarray. I thought that, if I could go out and meet them where they are, I could have a greater impact.”


One in a series of profiles of Modern Healthcare’s Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare (sponsored by Furst Group)


As a successful physician executive at Henry Ford Health System, Kimberlydawn Wisdom, MD, has attracted the attention of governmental leaders far and wide. Jennifer Granholm, then governor of Michigan, named her as the state surgeon general in 2003, a post she held for eight years. More recently, President Obama appointed her to his Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion and Integrative Public Health. But the path to a medical degree was one that Wisdom had to clear of a number of obstacles.


First and foremost was the era in which she grew up, a formidable boulder indeed.


“In the 1950s and ‘60s, there wasn’t a plethora of physicians of color,” notes Wisdom, Senior Vice President of Community Health & Equity and Chief Wellness Officer of Henry Ford Health System in Detroit and an assistant professor for the University of Michigan Medical Center. “In my junior year of high school, my guidance counselor said I should choose a profession that was more suited for my race. For her, saying ‘I want to be a doctor’ was like someone saying, ‘I want to be an astronaut.’ She actually did want to ensure my success. But I think her sense was, ‘Let me bring you back down to something that’s manageable and achievable.’ “


Yet Wisdom’s mother, who grew up in the small community of Coatesville, Pa., did in fact have an African-American physician. And Wisdom became a caregiver for her mom at home as she dealt with severe migraines.


“During my childhood, she spent a lot of time in bed and I was regularly bringing her aspirin or some other type of pain medication,” Wisdom says. “It was very impactful to me as a young child to watch her go through that. But on another level, I could bring her water, I could bring her comfort. That began to ignite this desire to consider how I could care for people long-term.”


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Profiles in Leadership: Top 25 Minority Executives


Technology’s a great tool, but AT&T’s Geeta Nayyar says it’s still all about the patient-physician relationship

By | August 13th, 2012 | Blog | 1 Comment


Geeta Nayyar: “If you really want to have the impact in healthcare delivery that we are all talking about all of the time, it has to be done with doctors and patients.”


One in a series of profiles of Modern Healthcare’s Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare (sponsored by Furst Group)


She’s the chief medical information officer for one of the largest firms in the world, but AT&T’s Geeta Nayyar, M.D, MBA, wants you to know that it’s not about the technology.


“It’s about people, and finding out how to make their lives better.”


At 33, she’s one of the youngest honorees of Modern Healthcare’s Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare awards program, but she’s been at this medicine thing a long time – she got into medical school at age 17.


“Both of my parents are physicians,” she explained. “I always was, and still am, a geeky science person, really fascinated by biology. But at the same time, I was always a very social person. So, clinical medicine just made sense because it was a joining of the best of both worlds.”


Her current role doesn’t call for it, but Nayyar made sure her employer would allow her to keep that aspect as an active part of her life.


“AT&T has been very supportive, and I am still on faculty at George Washington University in the department of rheumatology,” she says. “I still see patients. It’s only part-time, but I really enjoy it. And as much as healthcare keeps changing, it really is a valuable asset in my role.”


Nayyar says she sees technology as just another tool for physicians, like a stethoscope. She says her students at George Washington agree.


“The doctors that I teach now, in medical school and residency, can’t live without their tablets and smartphones – so why would they practice without them?” she says. “It is becoming so much more intuitive to use them. So if it helps you practice better medicine, why wouldn’t you?”


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