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Life Lessons from VirtuSense CMO, Dr. Tom Hale

Emily Potts Jun 30, 2021 9:25:55 AM

It goes without saying (but I’m saying it anyway), we are fortunate at VirtuSense to have a great leadership team. Our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Tom Hale, is no exception. He’s always game to jump in and offer up expert advice when I call on him. So when I asked him about his professional experiences and what’s he’s learned along the way, he didn’t hold back. Below are some valuable nuggets of wisdom that anyone can use. 

How have your professional experiences shaped you and guided you in your success?

I am a firm believer that the experiences in life not only teach us lessons, but form our personalities and either lead to successes—if we heed the lesson—or failure, if we don’t. Here are my lessons in the order that they occurred. 

Lessons Learned

  • College – Procrastination and lack of hard/daily work results in average grades and very few options in life.
  • Youth Director at the YMCA – You can have the most creative idea in the world, but if there is no money it is unsustainable and fails.
  • PhD work at St. Louis University – This is where I learned how to study and research—it is hard work and requires you to be a grinder.
  • Medical School – A person has significantly more capabilities than they realize; sometimes you have to be thrown into the fire.
  • Residency – OMG this is not academics! I am really a doctor and I have to take care of people who are suffering and act like I know what I am doing. There is no time for fear and self-doubt—people die when you hesitate, when you overthink, and when you don’t think.
  • Private Practice – Just because you have a lot of degrees and titles it doesn’t mean you are guaranteed success. The journey is just beginning. 
  • President of the Medical Group – Lots of education and titles doesn’t mean you are a smart person. The road to arrogance is filled with the educated and self-aggrandized.
  • Lead physician for Epic implementation – Even the best technology fails if workflows and change management are ignored.
  • Masters from Northwestern – You are never too old to learn. 
  • Executive Director of Mercy Virtual – When a door is shut, look for a window. There is always a way to succeed if you remain alert and keep your mind free of biases and false truths. Taking comfort in consensus is the home for lazy minds.
  • CMO VirtuSense – You always continue to learn; you just have to be around people who are smarter than you.


What is your biggest professional achievement and why is it important? 

I haven’t had one of those yet, but when I do I hope that I recognize that it is not mine alone – we stand on the shoulders of those that came before and remain supported by those around us.


Problem Solving

  • Make certain that I understand what the problem is—Patients would tell me that they have “angina,” and my response would be, that is several steps ahead of the problem. What is it that you are feeling? And most of the time, it wasn’t angina.
  • Always go back to the fundamentals that are attached to the problem. 
  • Don’t get ahead of yourself. When you skip a step in the solution you are likely to be on the wrong path.
  • Make sure that you understand the definitions of the problem, and that you have all of the “data” attached to that problem.
  • Don’t ever assume—always verify.
  • Finally, test your solution. All solutions sound brilliant in a vacuum. You have to test and stress the solutions—missing this step can easily lead to disaster. 


Management Philosophies 

  • Praise in public – criticize in private.  
  • Listen, Listen, Listen. 
  • Provide clarity around the objective. 
  • Be available for support but don’t become a puppet master. Let people make some mistakes. 
  • Be honest. 
  • Recognize your own frailties and accept them. 
  • Walk the talk

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