The day begins early for Dr. Craig Schmidt ’08. After arriving at Jewish Hospital–Mercy Health in Kenwood, Ohio—where he was named chief operating officer last spring—he’s immediately off and running. First, an operational huddle, where he and his colleagues gather to update each other on current challenges: Are there enough beds for incoming admissions? Do we have appropriate staffing? Are there any safety concerns? Then comes a series of meetings to discuss property and financial matters, and some face time with a patient and her family. By the time he has a moment to catch his breath, it’s 3 p.m.
A life in hospital administration is not the first role practicing clinicians set their sights on and Schmidt admits that it wasn’t a role he originally envisioned for himself. As a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) student who learned from mentors like Dr. Stanley Paris, he planned to open his own clinic and go into private practice. “I fell in love with outpatient orthopedics,” he remembers. In fact, he initially turned down positions in management because of his love of patient care.
When Schmidt accepted the role as a coordinator of two clinics, he saw how clinics are run. “I had the opportunity to influence the environment other clinicians work in,” he said. After the structure of his company began to change, he began inquiring about positions at local hospitals and clinics, including Mercy Health. Although he was seeking a job as a clinician, it turned out that a clinic manager was in the process of stepping down—and he landed the position.
It was a great fit for Schmidt, who considers hospital administration just one more way to provide care for patients. “The turning point for me was when I realized that as an administrator I could help therapists grow and flourish so they could provide excellent, ethical, patient-centered care,” he explains.
“This field allows me to be the ultimate clinician—I’m able to impact the lives of many more patients this way.”
His successes are powerful proof of that concept. At Mercy Health, Schmidt and his colleagues initiated programs with hospital transport staff and environmental technicians that encourage them to engage with patients, increasing satisfaction scores. He is also overseeing an $80 million expansion of the hospital, which will double the facility’s size.
Since he arrived, the hospital has received high rankings in safety, patient engagement, and other factors, but Schmidt refuses to take sole credit for these improvements. “I try to lead with a style that’s equal parts empowerment and accountability,” he explains. “Everything we do is a team effort.”