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Payal Parikh, MD, FACP

Vice Chair of Quality and Safety, Department of Medicine / Assistant Professor of Medicine at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
HERS Institute Alumna, Class of 2020

Dr. Payal Parikh is an experienced Assistant Professor of Medicine with a demonstrated history of working with residents and medical students as a teaching hospitalist. She is skilled in medical education, medicine, quality improvement, and patient safety. Dr. Parikh earned her MD in Medicine from Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical school and her BA in Biology from Boston University.

As a HERS Leadership Institute alumna, her professional and leadership goals are to become a transformational leader for her institution as a Chair of Medicine or Dean for Quality, Safety, and Medical Education. She aims to further develop the culture of quality and safety among her colleagues through robust faculty development and a system thinking approach to promoting sustainable change influencing patient care.  She wants to establish herself as a leader in quality and safe patient care and actively mentor those who want to grow as bridging leaders in STEM (especially women in medicine).

As a participant of the HLI Intensive in July of 2020, we asked Dr. Parikh to share how the online delivery met her expectations and its impact on her overall experience.


What brought you to the HERS Leadership Institute (HLI)? Did anyone encourage or support you to apply and attend? 

I applied to the HLI to learn from various higher education leaders outside of my institution and profession as a physician. While I understand my administrative level and the higher education of medicine, I wanted to understand the broader issues and enrich my growth and mentorship to those I teach and coach. As the Vice Chair of Quality and Safety for the Department of Medicine, I intertwine the clinical aspects of patient care with the safety aspects of creating policies to promote safe patient care delivery. And I am passionate about educating younger generations with this mindset for the future of healthcare. Given these three large aspects of what I do, I approached my Provost, who is also my mentor, to see how I could continue to meld all three, and he noted that HERS would offer a good network of leaders to learn from. He was correct!


What do you value most from your HLI Experience?

I was in the first virtual cohort due to the Pandemic, and I absolutely loved the way it was conducted. The facilitators did a fantastic job breaking us into smaller groups by similar academic institutions and career aspirations to meet virtually and discuss various aspects of our individual growth. We had assigned readings and extensive group discussions on topics relevant to higher education’s current environment. The nonjudgmental and collaborative atmosphere is something that I valued most. It was a safe space for me to share my thoughts and concerns. And I appreciated the advice offered by others who had experienced or were experiencing similar questions or challenges. It was truly a community and continues to be!


How did the curriculum’s online delivery shape your expectations, overall experience, and ultimately what you gained from the program?

The format was terrific. We had dedicated meeting times to discuss readings as a cohort and then met within smaller groups for more in-depth conversations. The face-to-face video interface did allow for me to feel like I got to know everyone as best I could in the format! I missed the dinners and shopping experiences, but the online delivery was perfect for me and offered the flexibility I needed to meet my work’s ongoing demands as a physician.


Of the curriculum modules, which stuck out to you the most and why? 

For me, the self and institutional awareness stood out and integrated nicely into communicating change and learnings around inclusive leadership. At that time, I had to challenge my own self-reflection to understand the behavior of those around me. The demands of my role during a pandemic put my response skills to the test. Day by day, I had to immediately learn how to communicate change, what aspects to consider, and how to be heard. An aha moment for me was when we discussed leadership styles and the notion of intersectionality. That discussion helped me put things into perspective, and after the HLI, I was able to make more effective changes in my leadership and make my voice heard. And I now understood why certain things were happening the way they were.


What from the curriculum and experience at HERS do you plan on bringing back to your institution and colleagues? 

I have started mentoring my junior colleagues and trainees on things I have learned. It is not easy as a young female to grow in an academic world with so many competing priorities, but the largest take away for me was that I have a network that I can reach out to if I have questions and concerns. Locally, I am working to provide some of the same skills I have learned and integrated into my work. For my institution, I am looking more at my colleagues who are leaders and understanding their leadership styles to tailor my points and plans so that their leadership style will understand. To truly make it a collaborative environment to promote change!


When you attended the HLI, the year’s theme was Wom*n Leading Across Generations.  How relevant have the lessons within this theme been to how you’ve been leading?  

I believe women have a unique perspective because there are many competing demands on us, from work-life integration, career advancement, to pushing oneself to “break the glass ceiling” (and having to do it more visibly when women tend to not be as visible by nature). I have become a proponent of making my accomplishments known respectably and promoting the achievements of women around me. I have been more mindful of my junior colleagues’ pressures and share my own experiences, so they know they are not alone. Mentorship and coaching have become an even bigger passion of mine since completing the Institute.


How did HERS impact your leadership trajectory?

As a HERS alumna, I connected with other alumnae at my institution and are working on a local mentorship and coaching chapter. Additionally, my cohort put me in contact with those seeking mentorship and coaching at other institutions to continue to expand my professional development and leadership goals. I have learned to make myself more visible, which has allowed me to continue to grow on my career aspirations of becoming a chair of medicine in the future.


How would you define your leadership style?

My leadership style is collaborative. I am data-driven and use data to communicate my points, but collaboration is vital because the best outcomes come when there is buy-in from all parties involved. I like to encourage an open exchange of ideas and a shared mental model towards improvement!


What advice would you give to a woman who wants to advance their higher education career but is uncertain about when and how to do it?

Apply to the HERS Leadership Institute! It was a game-changer for me. Stepping outside of my institution and seeing how others were facing similar challenges or opportunities offered a new perspective. Everyone at the HLI had their unique vantage point with various levels of experience! It transformed my future career aspirations from a plan to a recipe on how I can attain them!


How would you describe your cohort of HERS sisters?

Truly as my sisters. Everyone was very open, nonjudgmental, and welcomed a free discussion and exchange of ideas. Even now, I text and email with them to catch up. I know they are always there should something arise, and I need an unbiased ear for the advice!


Have you stayed connected to your cohort and the HERS Network at large since you completed the leadership institute?

Yes, through the various meet-ups organized by the program facilitators, we have stayed in touch. And I meet regularly with the alumnae at my institution to launch and grow a local group of mentorship. It has been truly rewarding!