Profiles in Leadership: Don Berwick

Profiles in Leadership is a series of interviews with leaders in fields such as health care, community organizing, international development, and homelessness prevention. The series, which aims to help health professions students reflect on their own leadership journeys, is a project of the IHI Open School for Health Professions and was made possible with the support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Donald M. Berwick
, MD, MPP, President Emeritus and Senior Fellow, Institute for Healthcare Improvement

 
Donald M. Berwick was President and CEO of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) for nearly 20 years. In July 2010, President Obama appointed Dr. Berwick to the position of Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, a position he held until December 2011. ​He was formerly Clinical Professor of Pediatrics and Health Care Policy at the Harvard Medical School, and Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard School of Public Health. Dr. Berwick has served as vice chair of the US Preventive Services Task Force, the first "Independent Member" of the American Hospital Association Board of Trustees, and chair of the National Advisory Council of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. An elected member of the Institute of Medicine (IOM), Dr. Berwick served two terms on the IOM's governing Council and was a member of the IOM's Global Health Board. He served on President Clinton's Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Healthcare Industry. He is a recipient of several awards and author of numerous articles and books, including Curing Health Care and Escape Fire.
 
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Videos
 
Background
What was your first job?
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How did you become interested in the work you do now?
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Who were your most important teachers?
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What are your favorite books?
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Values
What are you proudest of?
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What are your core values that keep you going? What is your “true north”?
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Leadership
When did you start thinking of yourself as a leader?
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What do you think of the idea that some people are “born leaders”? Can someone who’s not a “born leader” become one?
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What challenge do you hope tomorrow’s leaders will take on?
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Challenges
 
What kind of doubts did you harbor about yourself at different points in your career? How did you move past them?
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What were your biggest failures? What did you learn from them?
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What sacrifices have you made to be a leader – both personally and professionally?
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