Rebecca M. Leslie, MBA
Chief Executive Officer
Nashville Academy of Medicine & Medical Foundation of Nashville
From the time she was a young girl growing up in Alabama, Rebecca Leslie thought she would be a physician. While in college, she worked at the front office of an oral surgeon and discovered something unexpected ... she really enjoyed the analytical aspects and financial skills required to run a business.
Happily, her role leading the state's oldest medical society gives her the best of both worlds utilizing her business acumen to support area physicians as they work to make the community healthier. "The Nashville Academy of Medicine intersects with healthcare as we support 2,200 physicians in the greater Nashville area," Leslie said. "As physicians serve and give back to their patients each day, the Nashville Academy supports and provides what is needed for doctors and their practices to thrive."
As if that wasn't enough to keep Leslie busy, she also has a dual administrative role leading the Medical Foundation of Nashville. "The Project Access Nashville Specialty Care program was launched in 2005 and is now under the direction of the Medical Foundation of Nashville," Leslie explained of providing a coordinated system of care to low-income, uninsured residents of Davidson County and parts of the larger metro area.
"Since its inception, the program has provided over $40 million in donated care to thousands of uninsured Nashville area patients by more than 1,300 physicians and their affiliated hospitals and laboratories," she said with evident excitement. Additionally, she continued, 23 safety net clinics utilize Project Access to address specialty care needs for their patients. Leslie, who sits on the boards for the Safety Net Consortium of Middle Tennessee and Tennessee Charitable Care Network and is part of the steering committee for NashvilleHealth, noted, "This comprehensive referral system ensures that each patient has access to the necessary primary and specialty care they need."
Busy days are made more challenging by the ever-changing nature of healthcare. "As an association that represents a wide range of physicians, it is important that my team and I are up to date on what is going on in the world of healthcare both in Nashville and beyond. This requires flexibility and adaptability to best serve the needs of our members and our community," she said. Leslie added a 'one size fits all' approach doesn't work when it comes to engaging the membership. It takes an array of programming and offerings to meet the needs of members with different interests, who are at different points in practice, and have different motivations to get involved.
"My favorite part is relationship-building and seeing someone have their needs met whether it's a physician growing their career or a patient coming to Project Access for healthcare they greatly need," she said.
Equally, Leslie values the relationships built with her team at the Nashville Academy. Just as she had colleagues that helped support her and allow her to grow professionally in her previous position with the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, she works to model the attributes of a servant leader, willing to jump in and assist on any project, no matter how big or small, that moves the mission forward. "Mentoring those on my team and helping them grow and achieve their goals is a passion of mine," she said.
Leslie added it's important to find someone who can both encourage and challenge you to grow. "It may be easy to become comfortable with how things are today and miss out on the opportunity that lies ahead tomorrow," she counseled.
That advice, she noted, is true both professionally and personally. "For me, my husband Brett is more adventurous than I am," she said. A pilot, he's encouraged her to take the yoke of the plane ... but just for a few seconds, she laughed. He's also challenged her to ski harder slopes and go canyoneering in Utah - hiking up in the mountains and then rappelling into slot canyons.
The couple's most exciting adventure, however, is parenting five-year-old Elizabeth and two-year-old James. As the children get a bit older, Leslie said they look forward to introducing them to skiing, and she hopes they will love the excitement of exploring new places and challenges.
Her next big adventure professionally is set for 2021. "The Nashville Academy of Medicine is the oldest medical society in Tennessee, and we will be celebrating our bicentennial anniversary in 2021. This is the kind of celebration that only happens once in a lifetime," Leslie pointed out. "I can't imagine a better thing to celebrate - the history of physicians and healthcare in Nashville."