What Makes a Strong Healthcare Team?

Today’s healthcare teams face a growing need for interprofessional collaboration, creative problem solving, and impactful leadership training to drive organizational performance.

The healthcare work environment is changing every day. Across the board, healthcare providers are expected to do more – more paperwork, more reporting, more meetings, see more patients. At the same time, providers are feeling further isolated and less supported. The House of Medicine needs strong, dedicated leaders and effective healthcare teams more than ever.

The SYNC program is an innovative, team-based learning experience that teaches collaboration and leadership through hands-on problem solving. SYNC helps develop your leadership and teamwork skills by having you work on a capstone project to be presented at the end of the session. As a hospitalist, we chose to focus our SYNC Capstone on patients in the acute care setting. Our project focused on educating patients at high risk for stroke, in hopes of reinforcing compliance and ultimately decreasing their risk for stroke. Our team included physicians and nurses, and we reached out to pharmacists, social workers, and hospital leadership throughout the project. We initially sought to identify patients with new onset atrial fibrillation, however, upon reviewing the data, we realized the population size was too small and we had to widen our focus. As our project evolved, we faced challenges that forced us to make other changes. We reviewed social determinants of health, looking for patterns and areas where we could help patients. It forced us to look outside the lens of the hospital setting and more at proactive prevention rather than reactive treatment.

SYNC is facilitated by successful leaders who understand the necessary qualities for the entire healthcare team – communication, collaboration, and flexibility.

Communication is a key component in healthcare. Patients are relying on you to help them through some of the toughest times of their lives. In order to best serve your patients, you must have an open line of communication with your coworkers. Be open and honest with your team members. Check in with each other. Be present in conversations. The SYNC Capstone project creates a line for open and necessary communication with other members of the healthcare team.

Collaboration is necessary for success. This is the keystone of SYNC. If your team is not on the same wavelength or encouraged to share ideas, they will be less motivated to succeed. Being in an environment that encourages professional growth and allows ideas to flow freely ensures positive outcomes for patients. During our project, we learned from each other, each bringing different skills to the table.

Flexibility is required of all members of the healthcare team. By signing up for SYNC, participants are taking their first step into accepting and participating in the unplanned. The leadership role in the team is dynamic and changes depending on the needs and each other’s expertise.

The SYNC program teaches the foundation of effective interprofessional collaboration. Participants leave with a different understanding of what it means to be a part of the healthcare team. While our project started out small, we are working on expanding it to include more patients and involving new team members.

Denise G. Alcantara, M.D.
Sentara Hospital Medicine Physicians
SYNC Cohort 5

Participants have used SYNC to develop or build on programs that are critical for patients. Some of these programs include-

  • Stroke Education in High Risk Populations for Primary Prevention – Sentara Princess Anne Hospital – Cohort 5
    Project Goal: Implement a program identifying non-stroke patients admitted to hospital who are at high risk for stroke. Once identified, the focus will be to complete targeted stroke reduction education and follow the patient post acute-care.
  • Barriers to Breast Cancer Screening – Valley Health – Winchester Medical Center – Cohort 2
    Project Goal: Improve access and streamline delivery of breast cancer screening, identify barriers that make access difficult, and eliminate travel and distance between service delivery settings and target populations.
  • Improving Communication & Handoffs During Transitions of Care for ICU Patients – Centra Health – Inpatient Team – Cohort 1
    Project Goal: Decrease the amount of time until a patient is seen by a receiving physician after an ICU transfer, decrease rate of “bounce back” to ICU and eliminate unnecessary medications upon transfer.
  • Diabetes Prevention – A Public Health Collaborative – Mason and Partners Clinic & Prince William Health District – Cohort 1
    Project Goal: Identify pre-diabetic patients in the Mason and Partners Clinic and refer them to the lifestyle change program to improve overall health.  The project involved utilizing Community Health Workers in patient care and connecting patients to a medical home.

The House of Medicine is critical to keeping patients and communities healthy. With the changing landscape of healthcare and the added pressures of healthcare professionals, there has never been better time to sign up and become a part of SYNC.

If you have questions about SYNC conact Amy Swierczewski, Assistant Director of Intrastate Accreditation and MSVF Programs, at [email protected]

Virginia Physicians’ 200 Years of Impact

This year marks a significant milestone for the Medical Society of Virginia with the celebration of its 200th anniversary.

On December 15, 1820, 17 physicians from Richmond and Manchester met and created the Medical Society of Virginia. That story holds a place in history and is carving the path forward for well-being of all Virginians. Their resilience, dedication, and leadership to their profession continues to create a better place to practice medicine and receive care.

MSV represents the passion and power of Virginia’s physicians working together to drive progress in health care for the Commonwealth. Most recently, MSV has been leading the effort to curb the opioid crisis in Virginia and advocate for change. Partnering with other Virginia changemakers, we developed innovative solutions that removed barriers to obtaining treatment for those in need, provided educational opportunities for physicians, and created prescribing regulations for pain management. MSV worked with our hospital and patient communities this past legislative session to eliminate other barriers to receiving care with reform of prior authorization and step therapy – processes that delay or prevent necessary treatment. When physicians are involved in the legislative process, patients come first.

MSV recognized the exponential rise and damage of physician burnout by creating wellness programs to bring back the joy in practicing medicine and empower our physicians. When physicians are treating patients at their healthiest, patients are healthier and happier, too.

The Medical Society of Virginia would not be what it is today without our passionate members. Throughout our 200 years, members have dedicated their time to MSV, their patients, their communities, and bettering health care delivery in Virginia.

Expertise in the art and science of medicine and intrinsic desire to advocate for patients are powers only physicians have. Physicians are at their best when they are doing what they are trained to do – treat patients. For the past two centuries, MSV has represented the passion and power of Virginia’s physicians working together. MSV has defined Virginia medicine as we know it today, but most importantly, has championed physician-led patient care.

Physicians’ strength, innovation, and service to their profession has had a humanitarian impact on our history and is carving the path forward to making Virginia the best place to practice medicine and receive care.


Our physicians’ passion is the reason behind MSV – a passion for medicine, a passion for our profession, a passion for our patients.


The strength of physicians coming together has defined how medicine is practiced in Virginia.


Health care continues to change at a constant pace. Physicians manage these changes and continuously work to improve the process of caring for patients.


The physician community is dedicated to serving society through their expertise and commitment to humanity in health care.

We look forward to a year of celebration of our past 200 years and looking forward to our next 200!

The MSV Blog-A-Thon

The MSV blog is intended to highlight the physician and PA community and the physician voice. In order to encourage physicians and PAs to share their opinions and experiences, MSV is hosting a blog-a-thon.

Your Opinion Matters

No one understands the needs of patients and the complexities of health care more than physicians and PAs. Your peers and patients want to hear from you!

Share your opinion by submitting a post for a chance to be published on the MSV blog. Entries will be accepted through April 3, 2020. Accepted pieces will be published on MSV’s website and social channels.

Submitting Couldn’t Be Easier

  1. Write your blog post
  2. Submit your information and draft to the online form

Have an idea but not sure where to start? MSV is happy to help you develop your blog! Email our marketing team [email protected].

Physician Self-Care Is Mission-Critical Today

There’s no question COVID-19 has up-leveled physician stress and burnout — which you know all too well was already a challenge for medical professionals. Quarantines. Increased patient loads. Staff absences and shortages. Fear of exposure. Supply anxiety. New PPE protocols. Vaccinations and vaccination status concerns. Decreased practice revenue and increased costs(link is external). Patient fear. Misinformation. Telehealth visits and their related technology demands. Delayed patient health screenings and treatment. 

In Honor of Doctors’ Day: The Work Behind the Scenes of Physicians & PAs

Hands stacked on top of one another, National Doctors' Day

The COVID-19 pandemic has taught the world a lot, one of the biggest things being how much work healthcare providers put into their day to day. Although it seems this is something new to the general public, the healthcare world knows that this has always been the case. And what better time to reflect on it than National Doctors’ Day? After all, the pandemic added an entirely new level of stress and burnout, but physicians, PAs, and other healthcare workers have been putting their patients above everything else for their entire careers.  According to the AMA, “Most physicians work between 40 and 60 hours per week, but nearly one-quarter of physicians work between 61 and 80 hours per week.1” We know that this has been even higher for physicians and the entire healthcare team during the pandemic.

What You Don’t See: Patient Care Behind the Scenes

All of this just reminds us that physicians and PAs are key to helping keep our communities safe. And I have personally recognized in my 9 years at MSV how key you all are to the health and safety of your patients and how much you do that goes unseen.  I cannot count the number of times a physician or PA has responded to a message from a patient or reached out to a referring physician to check on the status of a case during their “off” hours.  While at MSV and AMA meetings, physicians will wake up several hours before the first 7am meeting to review charts while they are away to make sure patient care continues.

I have also seen the joy a physician experiences when they find out their patient has gone into remission or a follow up scan showed surgery was successful.  On the flip side, I have seen the heartbreaking grief when a physician uncovers a life shortening diagnosis that they must deliver to a patient and their family.  Physicians and PAs not only provide wisdom to patient care, they also provide the soul and support, whether it be from their shoulder or their heart.

These are just some of the many examples I have that shows how important you all are to powering the House of Medicine to provide quality, thoughtful care to your patients. Many people do not realize how much physicians and PAs really do behind the scenes. It’s not just about providing medical care, you advocate regularly for necessary healthcare change, you keep up to date with the business of medicine, and you participate in organizations and on taskforces in order to ensure your voice and your patients’ voices are heard.

The work you do truly makes a difference each and every day and we hope that you know the MSV is here to support you in all that you do. We work to understand what physicians and PAs need and what we can offer them to ensure they have the support they need. But we also work to make sure the public knows how truly valuable each of you are to ensuring patient health and safety, and how much time you dedicate not just to their care but to the overall healthcare system.

Celebrating National Doctors’ Day

One way we share your stories, and your impact is through celebrating National Doctors’ Day. What makes this extremely unique is that colleagues nominate one another to be recognized. So, if you can think of a doctor who goes above and beyond the call and does a lot behind the scenes, nominate them to be recognized by MSV for Doctors’ Day. This is your chance to honor someone who inspires you and is making an impact – and to let them know their value in powering the House of Medicine.

The public needs to know that you are key to ensuring safety and health. Help us share that message and tell us who you have seen make a true impact in the practice of medicine.

[1] Writer, Staff News. “How Many Hours Are in the Average Physician Workweek?” American Medical Association, 6 Jan. 2015, www.ama-assn.org/practice-management/physician-health/how-many-hours-are-average-physician-workweek#:~:text=Most%20physicians%20work%20between%2040,than%2040%20hours%20per%20week.

Written by:

Jenny Young
Director of Membership
The Medical Society of Virginia 

Centra Medical Group (CMG) First in the Nation to Offer its Physicians and PAs the SafeHaven™ Program

Centra Medical Group
VITAL WorkLife
Medical Society of Virginia

Centra Medical Group (CMG) First in the Nation to Offer its Physicians and PAs the SafeHaven™ Program

CMG completes trial and fully launches unique program supported by MSV and VITAL WorkLife.

To support the needs of physicians and PAs struggling with stress, burnout and the effects of COVID-19, the Medical Society of Virginia (MSV) launched the clinician well being program, SafeHaven™.

SafeHaven™ was created by the passage of the Virginia legislation, which is the first of its kind in the nation, signed in March 2020. The law allows healthcare providers to seek professional support to address career fatigue, burnout and behavioral health concerns with confidentiality and civil protections. This will allow physicians and PAs, who typically avoided using such programs because they were unprotected, to get the help they need without fear of losing their medical license. Currently the MSV is working with the Virginia General Assembly to expand the program to other clinicians and medical students, so SafeHaven™ clients can open up the program to their full healthcare team.

Through SafeHaven™, Centra Medical Group’s physicians and PAs have gained access to healthcare specific resources from VITAL WorkLife. The resources offered include VITAL WorkLife’s Clinician Well Being Resources solution, a comprehensive set of resources that includes peer coaching, elite concierge services and expanded behavioral health resources to promote work/life balance and well being for physicians, PAs and their families.

“The SafeHaven™ program is one of many initiatives we are working on to carry out our strategic framework which places “People First”.  We need to support and take great care of our caregivers, so that they are then able to provide excellent care to our patients and community,” said Tiffany Niide, MD, PhD, Medical Director, Physician Wellness and Engagement at Centra Medical Group. “We are thrilled to be the first healthcare system in the nation to offer these groundbreaking resources and legal protections to our clinicians.”

SafeHaven™ is excited to welcome the Centra Medical Group as its first health system and looks forward to a successful partnership that supports physicians and PAs so they can continue to do the work they love.

Download the Full Press Release (PDF)

To support the needs of physicians and PAs struggling with stress, burnout and the effects of COVID-19, the Medical Society of Virginia (MSV) and VITAL WorkLife have partnered to offer physicians and PAs a comprehensive set of well being resources they can use without risk to their medical license, SafeHaven™.

Medical Society of Virginia Foundation Recognizes Six Outstanding Physicians

Richmond, Va. (Jan. 25, 2021) –The Medical Society of Virginia (MSV) Foundation announced the winners of their annual Salute to Service Awards. Six Virginia physicians are being recognized from across the Commonwealth for their outstanding service in six categories: Service to — the Profession, the Uninsured and Underinsured, the International Community, Advancing Patient Safety and Quality Improvement, service by a Medical Student or Resident – and a special category for 2020, Service to Healthcare During COVID-19.

The premiere award, Service to the Profession, has been given to William C. Reha, MD, MBA. Dr. Reha is a Urologist in Woodbridge, Virginia and a former president of the Medical Society of Virginia.

The 2020 Winners of the MSV Foundation’s Salute to Service Awards include:

  • Mar Escario, MD, FACA of Danville, Service to the International Community
  • William C. Reha, MD, MBA of Woodbridge, Service to the Profession
  • Gonzalo M. L. Bearman MD, MPH, FACP, FSHEA, FIDSA of Richmond, Service for Advancing Patient Safety and Quality Improvement
  • Amanda Tosi of Norfolk, Service by a Medical Student or Resident
  • Joan Ritter, MD, FACP of Arlington, Service to the Uninsured and Underserved
  • Carolyn A. Burns, MD of Richmond, Service to Healthcare During COVID-19    

The MSV Foundation created the annual Salute to Service Awards in 2004 to recognize outstanding efforts of physicians, residents, and medical students who are dedicated to creating and nurturing a caring health promotion and disease prevention environment by providing service on behalf of patients everywhere.

The Medical Society of Virginia Foundation did not host the 2020 Physicians Gala due to COVID-19, so the 2020 Salute to Service Awards will be presented at the 2021 Physicians Gala at the Omni Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia.

About the Medical Society of Virginia Foundation

The MSV Foundation (MSVF) advances opportunities for physicians to participate in health improvement efforts in Virginia by supporting programs and initiatives that equip physicians to best serve themselves, their patients and their communities. For more information, visit www.msv.org/Foundation.

Download the Full Press Release

Letter to the Editor: Independent NPs require more training

As physicians, we pledge to do no harm to patients. To understand how to do so properly and provide quality care requires training and sacrifice. We watch as our peers go forward into their careers while we bury ourselves in studies and clinical training and incur thousands of dollars of debt to fulfill our dreams of caring for others at the highest level.

I work alongside and have deep respect for nurse practitioners (NPs). They are advanced professionals and should, in some cases, be able to practice independent of physician oversight. But there is a bill under consideration by the Virginia General Assembly that would allow NPs to practice independently after only two years of post-graduate education and two years of clinical training. A physician is required to complete four years of medical school and, at a minimum, three years of residency training, even in primary care. Many physicians take additional years to build a specialty, such as in neurosurgery, orthopedics or emergency medicine.

NPs should be held to similar standards of training as physicians if they want to practice independently, and we must do more in Virginia to ensure their stringently regulated clinical training. This means five years of clinical training, not two. The standard of training should be nothing less than the highest possible level. House Bill 1737 might seem like a way to create more healt hcare providers in Virginia, but ask: When you find yourself in an emergency room, what level of competency do you want at your bedside?

President, Virginia College of Emergency Physicians

Biden Administration’s National Strategy on COVID-19 and Pandemic Preparedness

This week, President Biden unveiled a significant national strategy for handling COVID-19 and addressing pandemic preparedness generally. The President also took initial steps to immediately implement portions of this strategy, issuing several executive orders and memoranda. 

Executive Orders signed January 21 include:

Memoranda issued on January 21 include:

New program helps Virginia medical workers find mental health support

RICHMOND, Va. — Unprecedented levels of burnout in the field of medicine were reported well before the COVID-19 pandemic started in Virginia. The virus has only exacerbated the critical and immediate need to help our frontline workers.

In March, Governor Ralph Northam signed legislation establishing SafeHaven™, MSV’s Physician Well Being Program.

The program, operated by the Medical Society of Virginia and VITAL WorkLife, ensures physicians and physician assistants can seek mental health support without the fear of impacting their medical licenses…

Read the Full Article Here

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