REFLECTING ON MY ADVENTURES through healthcare, I have been driven by the expression in the eyes of patients seeking answers to their ailments. Growing up as the daughter of immigrants with a multicultural background, I was empowered to embrace all opportunities that came my way and led me to get involved in medical research from an early age. While in middle school, I volunteered at a local stroke inpatient rehabilitation center, where I would listen to patients and understand their journeys. Later in high school, I discovered a dyslipidemia variant testing blood levels of factory workers in Pakistan. Being able to provide indigent patients with basic information about their health was what I found most gratifying.
Through those experiences, I knew I wanted a career that bridged clinical acumen with my passion for connecting with patients and deepening their understanding of health to protect them long-term. Before residency, I had the opportunity to also work with an incredible team of cardiovascular researchers as a part of a clinical research organization at a large inner-city hospital.
Today, as a new attending hospitalist, I continue to seek out opportunities to help me deliver the best possible care to my patients working alongside Vitans and others with the same motivations to improve healthcare delivery.
A Path to Leadership
Curiosity, the desire to be a life-long learner, and knowing I want to serve as an advocate for patients, health systems, and my organization led me on the path to leadership. In 2020, I was selected to serve as Vituity’s hospital medicine administrative fellow, which supports fellows in gaining profound organizational insight and molds successful leaders. The program directors provide skills and guidance on how to implement change to improve systems, and I am honored to be in a position that allows me that opportunity to learn the business of medicine.
As with any adventure, the challenges will come, but having the perseverance to overcome them in stride with Vitans who share these motivations brings joy to delivering the highest quality of patient care.
In addition to developing and applying leadership skills, Vituity’s Administrative Fellowship program offers a unique opportunity for fellows to engage in projects that improve care quality and efficiencies at health systems. My fellowship project, The Virtual Vitan Telehealth Curriculum, offers Vitans a robust telehealth curriculum through Vituity University modules, AI-equipped live feedback simulations and is developing a scoring tool that will give providers actionable feedback on patient experience. We focus on capturing the value of the personal patient connection with the added advantage of potentially reaching more patients, delivering to them high-quality care where and when they need it.
As a new physician partner, to be mentored by former fellows who now serve as medical directors, regional directors – and even our Chief Medical Officer – is very inspiring. I am incredibly grateful to be learning from thought leaders in practice management and proud to be a fellow Vitan because of so many in this organization who aim to give our communities the best healthcare services. My interests have also afforded me the recent appointment to serve as Vituity’s Hospital Medicine lead advocacy coordinator. In this capacity, I work closely with our advocacy team as a subject matter expert and in coordination with healthcare societies like the Illinois State Medical Society and Society for Hospital Medicine.
Ensuring Equal Opportunity for Growth
My fellowship also increased my exposure to how Vituity’s leadership is actively championing for diversity and inclusion in healthcare through groups within our organization. Despite more awareness of the need to build professional equity, we can work together to improve our industry in this area. We need to create spaces that encourage and celebrate one another’s contributions. This has been especially critical during the pandemic when additional stressors have been added to everyone’s lives, and studies show that healthcare workers have been particularly impacted. It’s empowering to see how Vituity finds solutions that make our providers more resilient.
Our organization creates opportunities for individuals to grow as leaders, clinicians, and people. I am honored to serve alongside Meghan Harrington and Melissa Nuñez as co-lead of Vituity’s Women’s Enterprise Resource Group WAVE (Women at Vituity Excel), one of several Vituity Diversity and Inclusion groups. WAVE supports women and welcomes everyone as equity partners, so together, we can be at the heart of better care. This group also gives people a safe space to network with others across both clinical and non-clinical teams. WAVE brings together people whose paths may have never crossed otherwise through their line of work, engaging in discussions ranging from improving investment literacy to women’s safety.
Investing in Our Communities
My experiences in medical school and clinical rotations at an array of health systems and hospitals across the country allowed me to care for patients with many different stories. Yet, the meaningfulness of the commonality that patients seek answers from us is not lost on me. During my residency training, I cared for a population where health literacy was not optimal, and patients often would travel long distances to seek healthcare in Macon, Georgia. These experiences helped shape my passion for dedicating myself as a resource to the communities I serve in bridging health equity gaps.
Another opportunity to make a difference is our newly created Vituity Cares Foundation (VCF). This foundation is championed and led by our CEO Imamu Tomlinson, MD, MBA, and the Vituity Cares Board of Trustees, with a mission to improve the health of underserved communities. It inspires me to be a part of an organization who commit themselves to healing vulnerable patient populations. VCF Mentorship Program gives me hope for our future as Vitans work 1:1 with high-school student mentees to help them navigate their journeys while engaging in group discussions on topics such as social determinants of health and innovation in healthcare.
To the Future Generation of Leaders
To those who are motivated to ensure high-quality healthcare delivery, to those seeking a profession that gives the reward of gratification knowing you can satisfy someone’s longing for answers, and to those who seek to work in collaboration with a team of others like you – always continue learning and growing so that you can advocate for others. Your unique perspective is vital to the innovation and transformation of healthcare!
Here are three lessons that have served me well in my career journey:
• Find a mentor or a support system that can help inspire you and will guide you to understand where your calling leads to in healthcare
• Maintain a willingness to welcome opportunities and seek those that truly speak to your heart
• Appreciate that everyone around you has something to offer, highlight the strengths of others, and work to empower team members as this will lead to incredible solutions
Healthcare offers so many different avenues to give back to our communities. As care providers, we understand it is our responsibility to utilize all available resources to equitably serve our organizations and patients. As with any adventure, the challenges will come, but having the perseverance to overcome them in stride with Vitans who share these motivations brings joy to delivering the highest quality of patient care.
To learn more about how Vituity support and empowers women in medicine, visit Women at Vituity Excel
Anum A. Niazi, MD is a hospitalist and serves as Vituity’s Hospital Medicine Administrative Fellow and the hospital medicine Lead Advocacy Coordinator. She was elected as the Women’s ERG Women at Vituity Excel (WAVE) Co-Lead, where she strives to uplift others in the organization. She is an ABIM certified physician who completed residency at Mercer University School of Medicine Coliseum Medical Centers HCA and is a former Vanderbilt University Chancellor’s Scholar.