By Barbara Blevins, President of Integrated Operations, TeamHealth

A few years ago while reflecting on my more than 40-year career in healthcare, I started to think about retiring. I have been blessed to work in a number of interesting, rewarding and challenging roles—including my first position as a chief financial officer at the age of 29—and in 2014 I received a lifetime achievement award. It felt like a culminating moment for my career, but after I spoke at the award ceremony, I realized I still had more to do.

A number of women had approached me at the event. They asked me to share insight into how I developed my own career, including what I had found to be effective and what pitfalls I had learned to avoid, so that they could apply that knowledge to their own journeys. It was humbling, to say the least, and it got me thinking. As a senior executive in healthcare and the mother of two young women (an emergency medicine physician and a neonatal nurse who will become a nurse practitioner in December), it’s my responsibility to give back to the next generation of women leaders in healthcare to help them grow and develop their careers.

With the assistance of another woman senior leader within my organization, I decided to launch an initiative to support the sustained development of women leaders within TeamHealth. We are, after all, a company with approximately 19,000 clinicians across the country who work in emergency medicine, hospital medicine, anesthesia, post-acute care and other specialties. And while we have done a good job to date of hiring and nurturing women leaders, we see an opportunity for improvement. Today approximately 41 percent of our clinicians are women, and 16 percent are leaders, which trails the industry average of 20 percent.

Through the Women in Leadership Steering Committee, our goal is to recruit and retain talented women leaders, both clinicians and business professionals. To achieve those goals, we will develop a mentorship program, provide networking opportunities, identify and develop talented women within our organization, and promote women leaders within TeamHealth. I believe that providing resources and support to the women within our organization can help facilitate their career growth and success—benefitting those individuals, our company, and the broader industry if those women pursue other opportunities in the future.

The steering committee is comprised of 15 women leaders within TeamHealth and led by a pair of women physician co-chairs. To support our launch and begin making an immediate impact, we created a private Facebook group for the approximately 300 women within our organization who serve at the level of vice president or higher, giving them a place to share information on everything from mentorship and career development to childcare. In the spring, we will provide a special professional development session during our National Medical Leadership Conference. And to kick start our mentorship program, each of the steering committee members is being paired with a “mentee.”

As we move forward, we will track and measure our success by looking not only at our activities but also our workforce metrics. We want to achieve notable increases in the number of women we recruit and retain and the percentage of women leaders across our organization.

I hope that by the time I decide to retire, TeamHealth will be known as the organization that values and supports women leadership at every level.