In his role as President and CEO of Tufts Medicine (formerly Wellforce), Michael Dandorph has a tall task in front of him: uniting more than 15,000 employees around a common goal of integrating academic medicine and high-quality care for the patients and communities they serve. Even early on, when he was brought into the Wellforce interview process, “it didn’t take long for me to [realize] there was enormous commitment to making a difference in peoples’ lives,” he recalls.
But for Dandorph, being drawn to the calling of healthcare began from a very young age.
He grew up in northern New Jersey with his parents and grandparents, all under one roof in a two-family urban townhome. As a child, Dandorph was no stranger to the healthcare setting. Due to a series of familial health conditions, he would find himself in different hospitals and nursing homes on a regular basis.
The big moment, however, came when Dandorph faced his own health emergency. During his freshman year of college, he was in a serious car accident, resulting in a six week-long hospital stay. During this touch-and-go period, he got a highly personal view of the patient experience.
“What I realized and what I learned through that experience was the importance of teams in healthcare. And not just the physician…but it was really an entire team of people who cared not only for me, but for my family,” he recounted.
It was because of that team that he came out of the experience stronger, healthy, and with a newfound passion to continue the excellence of care he received.
Throughout his appearance at MHA’s Executive Insights series this April, Dandorph outlined the importance of building a leadership team that’s eager to serve its community; a trait he described as key to pushing the envelope when it comes to quality care and innovation. “From a leadership point of view, I’ve always been a big believer that our job as leaders is to get people aligned, make sure people are in the right roles, and then empower them to go do these phenomenal things,” he said.
He also described building a team that pushes beyond the scope of their work.
“I work for them, not the other way around,” said Dandorph when discussing the relationship with his direct reports. His hope is that as a result, leaders will carry that sentiment with them, until it cascades to the front lines of care delivery. He concluded his appearance by stating that “there needs to be a commitment and a passion for excellence in healthcare and healthcare leadership.”