Just as the country, health systems, and the MPL industry began to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, a new class of the MPL Association Fellows Leadership Program began their journey. During the past two years, this group of eight physicians and healthcare executives has gained a valuable perspective on the MPL industry, deepened their connections with colleagues, and enhanced their understanding of the commonality of MPL issues around the globe.
As part of the program experience, Fellows are invited to participate in MPL Association in-person and virtual events. They also have the opportunity to serve on an MPL Association committee or section, an ad-hoc subject-specific advisory group, and participate in special sessions in conjunction with the MPL Association Board Governance Roundtable, Data Sharing Advisory Committee, and more. They also convene quarterly for additional industry-specific education within the Fellows Program.
Their experience was facilitated by former MPL Board Chairman James Q. Swift, DDS, director and chair of OMSNIC, who serves as the MPL Association program advisor to the current class. “This Fellows class took advantage of every opportunity to gain insight into how the medical professional liability industry works so that they can apply that knowledge proactively to their organizations,” Swift said. “This demonstrates how valuable the Fellows program is, not just for the individual participants, but for our members and Association as a whole.”
The Fellows appreciated the opportunities the two-year stint provided to gain a broader perspective on the MPL industry as a whole and understand how the various elements of an insurance operation fit together, including underwriting, claims, risk management, and more. Inside Medical Liability Online received input from several of the Fellows, who were happy to reflect on their experience and the benefits it has provided in their profession and in their work with MPL insurance carriers.
Awareness of MPL Issues Increases
Because the Fellows Program offers the opportunity to participate in many Association-sponsored events, participants increased both their awareness of and participation in major events within the industry.
Ursula Luckert, a board member with Physicians Insurance, said, “Participation provided opportunities that I wouldn’t have otherwise enjoyed. For example, the visit to Capitol Hill to meet with legislators regarding MPL issues was particularly interesting, increasing my level of respect for the challenging work lobbyists perform and the complexity of facilitating meaningful change to impact MPL issues.”
Mark Zajkowski, DDS, a board member at OMNSNIC agreed, noting, “It’s great to see that common challenges can be collaboratively approached with colleagues from other specialties, which helps me anticipate future issues that OMSNIC may face.”
For Sheilah M. Clayton, MD, a board member at Cooperative of American Physicians—Mutual Protection Trust, participation in the Fellows Program yielded benefits for all of her professional roles. “Participating in the Fellows program has been an invaluable experience that has significantly enhanced my understanding of the MPL industry as well as providing insight into the purpose and function of the Association,” she said. “The in-person and virtual education sessions were extremely helpful and provided in-depth knowledge that has been beneficial to me as I learn more about the critical role that legal considerations play in the healthcare field. This training has heightened my awareness and made me more conscientious and attentive to the ethical dimensions of my profession.”
Susan Sgambati, medical director of Patient Safety and Risk Management at COPIC, agreed, saying, “Participation in the program has broadened my awareness of the issues facing the MPL industry by exposing me to different perspectives, industry trends, and everyday challenges. Through engaging with experts, staying updated on current developments, and actively participating in committees, I’ve gained a comprehensive understanding of the complexities within the MPL landscape, which has enhanced my ability to navigate and contribute meaningfully to the field.”
For Chad Prather, MD, a director on the LAMMICO Board of Directors, attending the MPL Association’s Capitol Hill Day was particularly impactful in terms of helping him understand the importance of MPL issues and advocacy of those issues. “The Capitol Hill Day certainly helped me understand their importance, as we addressed issues that are key to the MPL Industry with our senators and representatives to raise awareness in Congress. We spoke to them about protecting medical volunteers during disasters through the Good Samaritan Health Professionals Act, addressing telemedicine liability issues, adopting effective and achievable cybersecurity policies, and most importantly, supporting proven medical liability reforms.”
Carolyn Anctil, MD, chief medical advisor at Curi, gained insights into how the seemingly disparate areas of the MPL industry are all closely connected, citing the Introduction to Medical Professional Liability Insurance Workshop as a particularly illuminating event. “Physicians who work for MPL carriers all tend to work for one department and don’t know or understand all the different aspects of the industry including underwriting, risk, claims, reinsurance, and more.”
Brady W. Allen, MD, an SVMIC board director, noted that the program definitely succeeded in its object of increasing Fellows’ awareness of critical MPL issues. “On topics I was not familiar with, the program was informative, but even in areas where I felt comfortable, the insights brought forth in the curriculum were extremely valuable and applicable to my role as a director on the SVMIC board.”
Lisa J. Young, MD, is a cardiologist and serves on the SVMIC Board of Directors.
Advance Leadership Within MPL
One of the major purposes of the Fellows program is to advance leadership within the industry.
Anctil valued the opportunity to connect with other chief medical officers (CMOs) from other insurers from around the world. “It was fascinating to connect with CMOs from around the world and to find out about what happens in places like Canada and Australia and other parts of the US,” she said. “We are all in the same field, but many things are different.”
Zajkowski gained appreciation for the breadth and depth of the MPL industry during his Fellow experience. “It was eye opening to get an overview of the MPL industry as a whole and see how each organization approaches individual and industry challenges,” he said. “I anticipate the experience will allow me to apply those concepts with my own organization to continue our mission and growth in protecting our insureds.”
Allen was able to amplify his knowledge and perspective. “As a board member, we are very focused on the performance of our company and the issues germane to our company’s geographic area or policy holders,” he said. “The MPL Association Fellows Program really expanded my knowledge and awareness of issues that impact the entire industry. Exposure to experts through subject area presentations as well as opportunities to observe the MPL Board of Directors were especially impactful.”
The immersive nature of the experience allowed Prather to accelerate his growth along the MPL learning curve, which will benefit LAMMICO. “Attending the Board Governance Roundtable, the MPL Leadership Forum, the annual meeting, an MPL Association Board Meeting, as well as the Capitol Hill Day and Introduction to MPL Insurance Workshop provided a constant exposure to MPL terms and concepts that served as a ‘boot camp’ of sorts over the two years of the Fellow training period,” he said.
Benefits for Future Fellows
If you’re interested in participating in the Fellows Program in the future, Allen endorsed the program, saying, “The Fellows Program expands fundamental knowledge of the MPL industry and positions its graduates to further advance the industry and serve their companies in leadership roles. As a bonus, the collaborative environment for learning fostered by the exceptional mentors made the program an incredibly enjoyable experience.”
Anctil agreed regarding the value of the program, saying, “The program should be a requirement for new physician board members. Or at least we should strongly encourage attendance at future, MPL 101 courses. The camaraderie amongst the fellows has been wonderful. I have enjoyed getting to know my classmates.”
For Clayton, the program served as an “invaluable investment for anyone interested in advancing their knowledge and career in this profession, equipping participants with the tools and knowledge needed to navigate the MPL landscape.” Sgambati described the benefits of participating in the program as “exposure to the MPL industry, including historical and current trends, diverse perspectives, and networking.”
Prather said that the program served to accelerate his depth of knowledge about the industry, particularly insurance markets and the implications of hard and soft markets for member companies based on his attendance at the Introduction to Medical Professional Liability Insurance Workshop.
The networking and friendships that resulted from the Fellows Program are a great way for future Fellows to gain insight and experience in the industry, said Zaikowski. “For me, it’s all about the relationships,” he continued. “Getting to know colleagues in other fields as friends and enriching my perspective in the MPL arena will add immeasurable value to OMSNIC. It also allows me to give back to organized medicine and dentistry and help protect our doctors, which at the end of the day, is really what it’s all about.”