Christine Malcolm

When I was 22 years old, I received my A.B. honors from the University of Chicago.  I had been taught that the world was entirely open to me.  I wanted to pursue a career in public health and healthcare, and began an intensive job search.  My heart was set on an Administrative Internship at Hennepin County Medical Center – an organization that fit well with my passion for health equity.

I was told by my interviewer that I couldn’t apply for the position because I was female.  He added that the field of health leadership was limited to men, nuns and nurses, and I wasn’t any of them, so I should rethink my career options.  I was stunned.  He told me matter-of-factly what was available to me – a clerical slot – the only position open to a woman who wasn’t clinically trained.  I needed the job, accepted the position, and vowed to prove him wrong.  I then promptly set about “disrupting” the fixed ideas about what was possible for health care, for me, and especially for women like me.

Disrupt Yourself - First, I disrupted myself – I decided to return to the University of Chicago Business School, a place that had always eschewed bias of any kind.   I was one of the 20 percent of the class that was female, and the one of the few who were married. After graduation, I took a challenging job in management consulting, traveling 5 days a week with clients of all kinds, and starting a health strategy practice at what is now Price Waterhouse Coopers.

Accept Disruptive Help - There were several men who opened the door, or sponsored me, starting with my first boss (who made me department administrator).  There were almost no women in leadership, so without men’s help, I would have been stymied.  One of them gave me a raise while I was off on maternity leave – talk about a positive disruptor!  They told me they had confidence in me, and trusted and advised me along the way.  My husband served as a rock of confidence and support – committed to being a two-career family – and we worked hard at helping each other become a success.

Find Other Disruptors, and Support Each Other - Over time, I have been fortunate to be part of two remarkable networks of leaders in the field – first, 20 years in a very senior network of men and women in health, and more recently, with the Women of Impact – a group of health leaders committed to creating positive transformation in the health field.  These networks sustained me, opened my mind, and expanded my notion of what is possible through collective action.  They have continued to positively disrupt my life and purpose.

Align Around a Crystal Clear Disruptive Goal - One woman I met in the last decade was Carol Emmott.  Carol had been a stand for women and diversity throughout her career – in government, in search, as a luminary in the field.  She was committed to leadership development and innovation – founding the California and Massachusetts Health Leadership Colleges, and the CEO Roundtable.  She tragically passed from cancer far too young – and in her last days, asked her family and friends to join together and form the Carol Emmott Fellowship for Leaders in Healthcare.  She wished to ensure that the experiences of our generation would not be repeated – and that women would never feel the sting of having their dreams dashed by limiting beliefs and behaviors.

Seize the Moment for Disruption - Discouragingly, equality statistics reflect a worsening situation over the last eight years.  The latest studies show it may take more than 100 years for women to catch up, and the prospects for women of color are even worse.  Love for Carol, combined with frustration as to the lack of progress that has taken place, motivated the national leaders on our Advisory Board, to work to make this innovative program a reality.

Powerfully Support the Future Generation of Disruptors - We have a remarkable class of 15 mid-career leaders in health who are in our inaugural class – they hold senior positions at some of the leading healthcare providers in the country – including Yale New Haven, Penn Medicine, Henry Ford Health System, University of Miami Health System, Lahey, Carilion, Marshfield Health System, Rush University Medical Center, Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Duke Health System, John Muir and Dartmouth-Hitchcock. Our class includes chief operating officers, physicians, deans, chairs, physician practice leaders, plus people from a variety of other clinical and administrative roles.  They each have committed themselves to creating change that makes health care better by taking on an ambitious Impact Project during their fellowship.  They have the powerful support of their sponsors and champions within their institutions.

Enlist the Assistance of People Who Are Known for Positive Disruption - We have been blessed with the tireless support of over a hundred very senior male and female volunteers – many of whom are “household names” in health care – serving as mentors, leading presentations to the fellows, hosting them in Washington, Chicago, Scottsdale and San Francisco. They demonstrate how when we stand together and for each other, behind huge goals, anything is possible.

This week, the fellows are in Washington DC, where they will learn more about how to create broader impact through advocacy.  They will meet with the Women of Impact, a partner organization, to explore more deeply what might be possible for the fellows as they complete their fellowship and go into the world – together, and in concert with other leaders committed to positive change in our field.  Robin Strongin, a Woman of Impact, has kindly offered this week of posts on Disruptive Women to introduce a few of the fellows and explore how we might jointly move beyond bias.  Thank you, Robin – for being the original Disruptive Woman in Healthcare.

We are certain you will be impressed with our fellows – and their commitment to making healthcare better.  Please join our movement to create a health field where bias and disparities of all kinds will finally be overcome!











Carol Emmott Fellowship 2016 Launch from Carol Emmott Fellowship on Vimeo.

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