Five messages from Dr. Sharon Anderson

May 2, 2016

Dr. Sharon AndersonAbout 100 attendees of the School of Medicine's inaugural Chair Chat, hosted by the Division of Continuing Professional Development, were treated to a frank conversation with one of the school's most well-known leaders. Sharon Anderson, M.D., professor and chair of medicine, shared lessons learned from her multifaceted career, spanning leadership roles at the Portland VA Health Care System and OHSU. The Chair Chat series enhances faculty development by giving department leaders a forum for sharing personal stories of their own professional practice, and allowing faculty members to interact with chairs in an informal setting.

Dr. Anderson was appointed chair of the school's largest department in March 2015. She is a nationally-recognized and innovative clinician, educator, researcher and leader known for partnership and promoting faculty success. Her talk emphasized the following five messages, applicable for professionals at all stages of their career:

1. Make a career roadmap; find and use mentors to help
"You need to have a plan for your career. You can change it a million times but you need a plan, and you need to find mentors."

2. Get the training you need; then, work hard, excel and share (publish) your work
"You're never too old for training. No matter how old you are, there's more to learn."

3. Toot your own horn – and lean in
Dr. Anderson referenced the "tiara syndrome" –when women expect that if they do their job well, someone will notice them and come and place a tiara on their head. "I never once went to anybody and said, 'Do you think I'm ready to be promoted?' Don't make that mistake!"

4. No missed opportunities – take a chance!
"Don't wait for something to be offered." Dr. Anderson encouraged people to be proactive in asking about being promoted and about leadership opportunities.

5. Take control and drive the bus
"When you take on a leadership role, you may inherit a perfect team…but you probably won't, and you're not going to move forward and drive the bus until you can accomplish that."

Throughout her presentation, she quoted several books, including Jim Collins's Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don't, and Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead.

Watch the Chair Chat video, and past featured faculty events, on the School of Medicine faculty development website.

The next Chair Chat, featuring David Wilson, M.D., professor and chair of ophthalmology, will be held on Wednesday, October 12, from noon to 1 p.m. in the Doernbecher Vey Auditorium. Three Chair Chats will be held in 2017. More information will be shared as it becomes available.