In the big picture of premier U.S. health system centers, UCLA is a veritable newcomer. However, despite its short 50-plus-year history, UCLA has had a significant impact on medical education, clinical care, and revolutionary medical research. Similarly, in the history of UCLA’s tremendous leadership legacy, I am relatively new on the scene. Because this book shares insights concerning leadership practices that were in place prior to my arrival, my enthusiasm for it is not a result of its reflections on my own leadership. But it does celebrate a tradition that attracted me to UCLA.
Fundamentally, Prescription for Excellence focuses on the attributes that have made UCLA one of the top-tier health service providers worldwide, but it is also a template for outstanding leadership principles that apply across business settings. In essence, it is a book about people, collaboration, and a vision of service. Consistent with my long-held belief that that the lifeblood of great institutions can be found in the quality of their people, this book captures how UCLA has uniquely positioned itself to excel in the future as a result of the extraordinarily talented and committed individuals it has attracted and the community support it has garnered.
As you will see throughout the book, the leaders at UCLA appreciate that talented staff members are necessary but not sufficient for the overall success of a healthcare or business enterprise. Talent without collaboration produces limited results. Having had experience with other institutions across the United States, I have seen an impressive array of exceptionally talented individuals with variable degrees of team commitment. At UCLA, I’ve appreciated a spirit of collegiality that enables our talented people to bring innovation to life.
Consistent with a theme that is echoed throughout this book, the talent and collaboration of UCLA’s staff members have been accentuated by a clear leadership vision for unyielding excellence and growth. The UCLA community has been led on a quest to constantly be better. Across the health system campus, there is a hunger to continue to “make the best better” and “create the future.”
Joseph Michelli does an excellent job of not only showing the principled leadership of the UCLA Health System campus, but also sharing its humanity. From stories of hallway conversations between the hospital CEO and patients or staff members to prescriptive summaries that mobilize you to action, Joseph has painted a warm, compelling, and useful picture of UCLA’s success drivers. Most important, Prescription for Excellence is presented at an important time for leaders in healthcare and business.
The book addresses the new tools, knowledge, and insights that will allow us to transform the health of populations and businesses worldwide in ways that would have been unimaginable even 10 years ago. From a healthcare perspective, we have unprecedented opportunities to make substantial and significant contributions to overall health. At the same time, we are faced with millions of individuals who die prematurely or who suffer diseases unnecessarily, and we also continue to look at wide and alarming disparities in healthcare. From a business perspective, we have the chance to take an evidence-based approach to best practices that will improve the work environment for our staff members and the overall experience of those whom we serve.
I am glad that you have this book in your hand, and I am delighted to have the opportunity to play a part in leading UCLA Health System at this important time in history. When I look at the opportunities as well as the needs that face healthcare and business today, I feel that there is a handful of institutions that can effectively pursue solutions to the most pressing of problems. I came to UCLA because I believe it is one of those institutions that can and will improve the lives of future generations. I hope the lessons found herein serve you in your pursuit of similarly important objectives.
—A. EUGENE WASHINGTON, M.D., M.Sc. vice chancellor, UCLA Health Sciences dean, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA