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, MD, MPP, FRCP, President Emeritus and Senior Fellow, Institute for Healthcare Improvement, is also former Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. A pediatrician by background, Dr. Berwick has served on the faculty of the Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health, and on the staffs of Boston's Children's Hospital Medical Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, and the Brigham and Women's Hospital. He has also 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. He served two terms on the Institute of Medicine's (IOM's) Governing Council, was a member of the IOM's Global Health Board, and served on President Clinton's Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Healthcare Industry. Recognized as a leading authority on health care quality and improvement, Dr. Berwick has received numerous awards for his contributions. In 2005, he was appointed "Honorary Knight Commander of the British Empire" by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II in recognition of his work with the British National Health Service. Dr. Berwick is the author or co-author of over 160 scientific articles and six books. He currently serves as Lecturer in the Department of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School.
 
If you are unable to watch the videos below, watch them on YouTube
 
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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