Monday, April 24, 2006

Health czar quits, cites young son. Dr. David Brailer announced his resignation last week. Dr. Brailer, who is known as the "IT czar" in the healthcare industry, has the official title of National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. He was appointed by HHS Secretary Michael Levitt two years ago. In his resignation announcement, Dr. Brailer cited the long absences from his five-year-old son as one of the main reasons for leaving the Washington DC post (his family is based in San Francisco). I heard Dr. Brailer speak at several healthcare conferences, and he always seemed like a nice guy, casual and self-deprecating. He was a passionate advocate for bringing more information technology to physicians' offices. This is a Herculean task, and he made some progress, but probably not as much as some people had hoped. Now he can get a six-figure job at a consulting company. I'm glad he mentioned his family as a cause for dissatisfaction at work. High profile government officials and CEOs can get away with this. Mid-level managers can not. Can you imagine a 40-year-old manager (male or female) at a large company saying "I can't make that conference in Chicago next week, my son has a soccer game." Peter M. Senge, an MIT professor and chairman of the Society of Organizational Learning, has written about how many large companies force people to separate themselves into two identities: the corporate person and the family person. He has noted that this will have to change as more and more people become self-motivated "knowledge workers." As men and women in the managerial workforce become more and more aware of their own potential and of the needs of their children, they are going to demand more flexible hours and family leave.


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