The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center’s Michael Guertin on Empowering, Engaging, and Motivating Your Team Through Communication

In this episode…

Ohad speaks with Michael Guertin, MD MBA CPE FASA, Chief Perioperative Medical Director at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center about his career journey and the important lessons about leadership and communication he’s learned along the way. 

They explore the synthesis of clinical expertise with entrepreneurial endeavors and the importance of leadership in driving efficiency and quality patient care. Michael also reflects on the evolution of healthcare leadership, emphasizing the integration of innovation and technology in shaping the future of the industry.

Topics discussed:

  • How Michael was drawn to the healthcare field because of the challenge.
  • How Michael has shaped his leadership skills throughout his various roles. 
  • How communication and how someone presents themselves is just as important as clinical skills.
  • The integration of innovative ideas with collaboration and communication among stakeholders to address challenges in healthcare.
  • How it’s important to create a good business case for technologies such as point of care ultrasound and robotics.
  • How healthcare should synthesize the clinical side and the administrative side for better organization and better patient care.

Dr. Michael Guertin, Chief Perioperative Medical Director at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, knew from early on that he was up to the challenge of working in the medical field. “I think both of my parents really wanted to dissuade me from going into medicine because they saw how challenging it was and how difficult it was. But it was something that I was drawn to, and I had a hockey injury when I was in high school, so I spent a fair amount of time in hospitals and undergoing surgery, and I don’t know if that really sparked it even more. I think it probably did.”

Now, Michael shares the wisdom and insight he has gained along the way, in particular about leadership of a team and of a medical institution. 

The Importance of Communication Skills in Leadership

There are many lessons Michael has learned throughout his career, but one of the most lasting ones has been the importance of communication. When he became a mentor himself, he made sure to impart that same wisdom to his mentees. He says it’s all about empowering, engaging, and motivating everyone on the team to feel like they are essential and that they are in a safe learning environment. He shares a pivotal, “sentinel moment” where he came to a crossroads of what kind of leader he wanted to be.

“I can either say, you know, that person needs to basically just get tougher and do their job right, or what I chose was to become more self-aware and realize that as physicians, and particularly as physician leaders, because I was the medical director at the time, we have a higher duty to make sure that the way we conduct ourselves really helps to empower, engage, motivate everybody on the healthcare team. And that really, that was a decision I made in that moment, and it really led to, really, the rest of my career.”

By honing communication skills, leaders can foster better relationships with their teams, drive positive change, and enhance patient care outcomes. Effective communication can also bridge the gap between physicians and administrative leaders, promoting collaboration between the two sides of the same coin..

Embracing Innovation and Technology in Healthcare

Another key topic discussed was the integration of innovation and technology in healthcare settings, particularly in ambulatory surgery centers. In particular, Michael highlighted how each investment in technology must have a benefit to both the clinicians and patients, but also the finances of the institution.

“Another one that we’ve talked about is point-of-care ultrasound. Very important technology that’s come along that allows us to really better care for patients. For example, as an anesthesiologist, if somebody maybe isn’t sure what they had for, if they ate something or they drank something and they’re not really sure about the timing of that, rather than just canceling their surgery, we can do a very quick point-of-care gastric ultrasound and see is there something in their stomach? 

“If there is, then we can delay their surgery so that we don’t increase the risk of aspiration. If the stomach is empty, then we go ahead and care for them, and that’s really what we should be trying to do. So again, these kinds of things, point-of-care ultrasound, giving us the opportunities to improve patient care.”

By embracing technological innovations, but also keeping in mind how it will be used, by which members of a care team, and how it will help patients, healthcare organizations can drive efficiency, enhance patient experience, and keep pace with standards of care. 

Future Trends in Healthcare

One of the shifts Michael is seeing in the healthcare field as a whole is toward community-based care and the utilization of technologies in different settings, including in his own organization. 

“We’re actually in the process, in our own organization, of determining when and how is the right way to introduce robotics into ambulatory surgery, because we are doing, already in our hospital settings, robotic surgery on patients that really get discharged several hours after their surgery. 

“But again, there’s, we have to look at, and this is, again, where partnering with our administrative colleagues is important because there’s a cost associated with it. It’s very high, the cost of doing it. But if we can take it out into the community and offer that to people where they live near their home and they can have that surgery. Because one of the things that we know, too, is that it’s a big university and you come to the medical center, and for people who don’t come here all the time, it is very intimidating.”

Although it will take some time for patients to adjust to new processes and facilities, it’s well worth it to continue offering high-quality care to their communities.


Healthcare professionals can navigate challenges and shape the future of healthcare delivery by emphasizing the importance of effective communication, embracing innovation, and investing in leadership development.

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