Hyde is first female chief medical officer in Erlanger’s 130-year history

Photography by Olivia Ross / Dr. Jensen Hyde is the first female chief medical officer in Erlangers 130-year history.
Photography by Olivia Ross / Dr. Jensen Hyde is the first female chief medical officer in Erlangers 130-year history.

How badly did Jensen Hyde want to be a doctor?

"I used to pretend I was sick because I liked going to the doctor's office," she says. "And I got in very big trouble as a child when I stole my aunt's insulin -- I was pretending my doll had diabetes."

Hyde followed through, earning her medical degree from the University of Tennessee in 2014. She's been at Erlanger for nearly a decade now, including the last five months as its chief medical officer -- the first woman so named in the hospital's 130-year history.

"Dr. Hyde's commitment to quality patient care, dedication to clinical staff engagement and creative problem-solving with current challenges in the health-care environment made her the perfect choice," Erlanger COO Rob Maloney wrote in an e-mail.

"She grew up in our system ... from residency to hospitalist," he added. "Now, as our CMO, she continues to perform an excellent job ... to drive excellence in our system."

Hyde says her new job involves working "in tandem" with Erlanger Chief of Staff Chris Poole on issues having to do with the medical staff's quality and professionalism. She says she took on her new duties in addition to, not instead of, academic and clinical responsibilities she already had. She concedes that adding the administrative role is "a lot to balance," but is quick to add that she's fine with that.

"I love all of it," she says. "I've been through medical school, residency and a (cesarean) section. I've drank from a fire hose. This is just a different hose.

"I've had to toggle my time, but a lot of CMOs aren't allowed to stay clinical," she adds. "I look at the administrative side as a lot of big projects. I've got to learn how to better triage those projects, but it's exciting for me to have the resources to deal with those projects."

Hyde allows that while she has felt "extremely supported" in her new role, she knows she has critics. She believes that criticism is based more on her age -- 35 -- than her gender, but holds that her body of work at Erlanger more than answers any question of her experience.

"I've got a lot of relationships (here) already," she says. "I can't fix problems very well if I don't know how they work. It's the difference between looking at numbers on paper and knowing that I've been in this workflow."

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