“To new physicians, and even us older docs, I say: ‘Never forget why we went into medicine.’ It’s a calling. If there’s something that we love doing is making a difference in the lives of others. There’s nothing more satisfying than to continue to foster that feeling and reconnect to the joy of medicine.”
Diane Colgan, M.D., is an experienced plastic surgeon based in the Washington, D.C. metro area. She’s the chief of staff at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, part of Johns Hopkins Medicine. She trained as a surgeon with the U.S. Navy. Through The Institute for Healthcare Excellence (IHE), she has found a home for her passion for restoring connections between physicians and patients.
As chief of staff at Suburban Hospital, she has relentlessly pursued improving patient-physician and physician-physician communication. She recounts how engaging with IHE’s program provided a path to reduce stress and burnout and bring back joy to the practice of medicine at Suburban Hospital.
When Suburban joined Johns Hopkins Medicine, she led the way in implementing IHE’s communication curriculum at a time of change. The program has rolled out to 600 staff members to date. It has helped bring people from different parts of the system together and reminded physicians of the reasons why they went into medicine. Dr. Colgan also instituted a yearly leadership retreat to focus on physician and caregiver burnout as well as started a program for coaching, peer to peer support, and Center for Professionalism.
Dr. Colgan’s Navy career was highlighted by her appointment as chief of Plastic Surgery at the National Naval Medical Center. She was awarded the Legion of Merit while a member of the U.S. Navy. She was on active duty for 12 years and served as a reservist for 10 years, retiring as Captain in the Medical Corps in 1990. After leaving the U.S. Navy, she went into private practice holding various leadership positions at Suburban Hospital.
She has been an invited lecturer on topics ranging from advances in plastic surgery to skin cancer to patient and family centered care. She has also made guest appearances on television programs on cosmetic and reconstructive surgery, including on WETA-TV and CBS.
Dr. Colgan was named the 2016 Physician of the Year by Suburban Hospital. In her free time, she enjoys rescuing dogs and gardening. You can follow Dr. Colgan on LinkedIn.