Tips for being a leader in a health care crisis

September 17, 2022

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CHICAGO — During the COVID-19 pandemic, Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, DBA, U.S. Army (Ret.), said the health care workforce has had to lead through crises that were comparable to those he experienced during combat.

Hertling, who has worked in health care leadership for the last 8 years, presented at every Women in Medicine Summit since 2020. In this year’s presentation, Hertling discussed the attributes, competencies and influence methods that leaders use to handle crises.

“Over the last 3 years, the medical community has been thwarted by what’s been happening with the pandemic. Doctors, nurses and administrators have all stepped up to deal with the kind of crises that I used to deal with as a soldier in combat, and they’ve been magnificent in the way they saved the nation,” Hertling told Healio. “Truthfully, it’s been remarkable.”

Hertling discussed how leadership is applied in a crisis, and how to change approaches to better fit the situation. He also emphasized the importance of reflecting back on “the things you did more efficiently and more effectively and apply them to your life and to your organization and to your team.”

As a final point, Hertling discussed crises that health care providers could face in the future and how to prepare for them.

“What kind of crises is the health care industry going to face coming around the bend?” he said. “Government regulations, climate change, another pandemic, health diversities [are] just the kinds of things that doctors and administrators and nurses are going to find replacing the pandemic that requires them to be great leaders and think into the future and really adapt and adopt the organizations to deal with those crises.”


Hertling M. Adapting leadership to periods of crises. Presented at: Women in Medicine Summit; Sept. 16-18, 2022. Chicago.