Ten Questions with Dr. Jerry Sheward

bios_shewardTell me a little about yourself – your background and your education.

I was born in Anderson, Indiana.  I went to Leach elementary school and Frankton High School.  I grew up on a small farm, but my Dad worked at Guide Lamp for 42 years.  I went to Wabash College specifically to improve my chances of getting into medical school.  I majored in Chemistry with special emphasis in Physics and Math, but enjoyed my philosophy and literature courses more.

I attended Indiana University medical school in Indianapolis, and then did a residency at Indiana University Medical Center with a six month internship at St. Vincent in Indianapolis.

How long have you worked for Aspire?

I started in the summer of 1990.

What positions have you held with Aspire?

Medical Director, Chief Clinical Director, and Vice President/Chief Medical Officer

Describe your current position, including your responsibilities?

I’m responsible for medical services, including inpatient services, for Aspire.  This includes supervision, planning, budgeting, performance monitoring, and recruiting.  I’m also the chairman of the Medical Executive Committee, which reviews performance data, policy and procedure, and analysis of morbidity and mortality for the center as a whole.  I summarize this data during the bi-monthly Aspire Board meeting.  As part of the executive team, I participate in business development, integration initiatives and partnership development.

I also serve as Vice President for Archeon which sells and supports our MedInformatix- based EHR for both Aspire and our external customers.  We also provide tele-psych services throughout the state.

What does a typical day as Vice President/Chief Medical Officer look like? 

Emails, email, emails.  Usually at least two meetings during the day with either internal or external customers.  I handle a few customer complaints (thankfully not many), I continue to see a small number of clients as outpatients, cover inpatient, and go to both Madison County and Boone County jails to provide psychiatric consultation.  I also try to find time to do the daily cross word puzzle to keep my vocabulary well oiled.

What in your educational background and work experience prepared you for your current position?

My liberal arts degree helped develop communication skills and critical thinking skills.  Medical school is self-explanatory.  I’ve had some good mentors with respect to management, but am still learning from our current executive staff.  Hopefully I’m getting better.

If you weren’t working in this field, what would you be doing?

                I would have like to have flown commercial jets, but my eyesight wasn’t good enough without glasses or contacts, and Lasik wasn’t really available back in those ancient times.  I would also have enjoyed working on racecars.  I worked as a machinist for Perfect Circle in the 70s, and I enjoy working with my hands.

What is it that drew you to the field of mental health?

The “why” people do what they do has always been more interesting to me than how their bodies worked.  You can be very physically disabled, but if you have emotional health you can cope.  The reverse doesn’t seem to be true to my observation.

What impact do you feel your work has had on Aspire and its clients?

That’s for others to decide really.  I’ve tried to participate with a team of peers to create a system of care that respects our clients and hopefully helps them to live more fully.

What things do you do to help you cope with the demands of your job?

There are many things I suppose: reading, music, playing the piano, working on my car (not this winter, too cold), caffeine, but really, most days I find my work interesting and ever changing so that I’m usually not too stressed.  Personnel issues probably represent the greatest challenge for me.

Dr. Jerry Sheward is Vice President & Chief Medical Officer of Aspire Indiana. While the beliefs and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of Dr. Sheward, you can learn more about Aspire Indiana at https://www.facebook.com/AspireIndiana.

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