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VP of a healthcare system shares his take on leadership
Dr. Muddasir Ghouse

VP of a healthcare system shares his take on leadership

November 7, 2023 at 12:15pm

Dr. Muddasir Ghouse ’12 is a man of the world.

Born and raised in Saudi Arabia, he went on to college in India, where his parents are from, attended medical school in the Kyrgyz Republic and graduated with two master’s degrees in the United States — one of them from FIU's Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social WorkHe is also board certified in healthcare management and a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives.

Throughout his years as a student, Ghouse traveled to across Europe, Asia, Africa and the United States. The exposure instilled in him a profound appreciation for culture, people, and language. Such was the impact that he speaks English, Arabic, Urdu, Hindi and Russian.

Today, Ghouse serves as the regional vice president of operations for specialty care services at MercyOne, an Iowa-based nonprofit healthcare system that is one of the largest in the nation, with more than 420 clinics, medical centers and hospitals. There, he oversees hundreds of staff.

Ghouse sheds light on his early experiences and what inspired him to become a leader in healthcare.

What got you initially interested in medicine?

I chose medicine as a career - specializing in preventive medicine - because it empowers you to help people through compassion, communication and commitment. I am a people person, so I wanted a career where I could make a difference by helping others lead healthier and happier lives. Medicine is considered one of the oldest and noblest professions because physicians are committed to the care and improvement of human life.

A medical degree can set one up for a practice in which you see patients. But the degree you earned at Stempel College would have added a new dimension for you, professionally. What is the value of having both a medical degree and a degree in public health as you lead a hospital system?

Public health tends to take a longer view of issues that impacts the entire population, whereas your doctor helps you with your personal healthcare issues. Therefore, it is critical to promote synergies and bridge gaps between clinical medicine and public health.

The Master of Public Health program provided a solid understanding of the healthcare leader’s role in the broader health system and their role in reshaping it. A combination of degrees in medicine and public health prepared me to establish strong relationships with my direct patient caregiver teams, identify opportunities for improvement and continuously promote high quality, patient-centered care.

How do you take all your experiences together to bring perspective to a challenge you're facing? Do you believe that having traveled all over the world has had a positive impact in your role as a leader?

Traveling goes beyond visiting places and involves a deep exploration of both the world around us and ourselves. It impacts leadership, providing diverse, valuable lessons as unique as the destinations themselves.

I have been blessed to meet people of various professions from different parts of the world – professors, mentors, students, physicians, colleagues and volunteers. All these valuable interactions and experiences have helped shape my leadership style. I am a lifelong learner and strongly believe that we learn something every day whether it is through studying, traveling, networking or volunteering. It is important to learn from our mistakes and cultivate a mindset of growth and continuous improvement.

What would you say is your leadership style?

I do not believe in running a department from behind a computer in my office. Every week I dedicate time to round the clinics, the hospital and the sites of care — wherever we are providing care, wherever the patients are, wherever my teams are serving. I love meeting my colleagues one-on-one, inquiring about any concerns or questions that they may have, and maintaining open lines of communication. That's where you build a successful team, gain trust and respect.

What makes a good leader?

You cannot be a good leader unless you communicate and connect with your people. Those are the two buzzwords, right? Many people communicate, but they fail to realize that they are not connecting. So, unless you are listening to the needs of your people, and you are empowering them with the resources that they need to be successful in their jobs, you cannot be a successful leader.

People study leadership all the time, but sometimes there are individuals who exert an influence that stays with us and yet they had nothing to do with the academic study of leadership. Was there someone like that for yoiu?

My mother’s aunt, Dr. Atiya Ansari, has always been an inspiration to me and my family. She was the epitome of a selfless leader who always prioritized the well-being, happiness and needs of others above her own. Dr. Atiya was the first in the family to graduate from medical school, established one of the first multi-specialty clinics in Saudi Arabia, founded a tuition-free school in India for underserved children and sponsored multiple scholarships to support the next generations of lawyers, engineers and doctors.