The power of learning ‘systems thinking’

Virginia Mason Medical Center Blog

“We strive to give residents insight into their critical role in system improvement.”
-Brian Owens, MD

The voices of two young physicians speak eloquently about the value of systems thinking in health care.

Residents Camille Johnson, MD, internal medicine, and Carlo Milani, MD, preliminary medicine, find significant value in learning about systems thinking as part of their training. “At Virginia Mason, systems thinking starts with a very different culture,” says Dr. Johnson. “There is a pervasive egalitarian culture that has to be there for process improvement to work. To me, that is one of the bedrocks of process improvement − everyone has to feel safe voicing their perspective.”

Dr. Johnson has dug into learning about systems processing by taking a Virginia Mason Production System for Leaders course, a rigorous initiative required for all leaders within the organization. “The course focuses on lean processes, applying lean tools to a process you…

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