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Judi Lento, BSH, FACMPE

Volunteer Roles: 2019 ACMPE Scholarship Committee

Why did you decide to get involved with MGMA?

The gentleman who recruited me to my very first private practice position told me all about MGMA and how important it was to have membership and attendance stipulated in my contract. The journey began there!  

What do you find most rewarding about volunteering for MGMA?

With each volunteering position I have taken part in I gave time and with that I was afforded the opportunity to learn from others on the committee as well as begin to develop many professional friends and eventually a team of people to navigate the business of healthcare and network with.

How did you decide that practice management was the career for you?

I started out in the 1970’s in a clinical role as a laboratory technician, I always seemed to end up leading every team I worked with, I knew I loved healthcare and knew I really wanted to help people, but not sure exactly what I wanted to do for life. I worked in pediatric hematology and cancer research, which was very rewarding, but also a little depressing and not all I wanted for my life. When I moved to Florida I decided to go back to school to learn more about the business side of healthcare. I earned a BS in Health Administration and became a licensed Nursing Home Administrator, with each job offer that presented itself to me in that field I felt more and more like it wasn’t what I wanted nor was it my chosen life’s path, I was teaching lab technology and health administration at the local Concorde Career Institute at night and learned a lot about medical practice administration and physician office management, I really excelled at teaching it and I liked what I was teaching. A close physician friend of ours informed me of a management position at the University of Florida Jacksonville Physicians Primary Care Practice, I applied for the position and landed the role. I had 4 PC practices around the Jacksonville Florida area and I loved the role. I found myself landing on every committee and part of every leadership program the hospital organization had to offer and I still wanted to expand my knowledge and learn more. I was recruited a year later to a private OBGYN practice that had just come out of a badly failed merger with a company called PHYCOR, I was hired to pick up the pieces and get those providers and that well respected practice back on its feet. The love of practice management and the understanding of this important and very responsible role excited me, and I wanted to help these great doctors pick up the pieces and make a living. The senior physician had not taken a pay check in 8 months, I knew I had to fix that. I also knew I had lots of challenges ahead of me, but I wanted to make it right! It was that recruiter who introduced me to MGMA. Building a network of my peers was most important at that juncture and being involved with MGMA on the local, state and national level got me through those rough times and helped me blossom into a passionate healthcare leader.

What is your favorite book, website or resource for practice managers?

I have many favorite books as I read all the time, but the book “The Advantage” by Patrick Lencioni truly resonates with me. I heard him speak at a national MGMA meeting, read the book, and introduced it to my company and we ended up utilizing it for the focus of our strategic planning meeting 2 or 3 years ago. I am a leader that deeply believes in culture being a strong component for driving a successful medical practice or any other business. People need to feel valued at work, it’s not just about a paycheck, it’s about making a difference. I’m in healthcare to make a difference and I can’t do anything without have the right people and team around me, I believe that’s true for all of us. 

What is the best tip you give to people who are just starting a career in practice management?

I have had the privilege to provide mentorship to many young professionals. I encourage all of them to get involved with MGMA, never stop learning and networking. I encourage them to make time to volunteer in some way to their organization. I truly believe that as much as I’ve given as a volunteer, I’ve gotten back ten times that and more in all I’ve learned. It’s an honor and privilege to lead others and provide mentorship. I feel passionate about healthcare and I hope to elicit that passion in the next generation of healthcare leaders.

How do you relax after a busy week?

My relaxation comes in the form of family fun and exercise. I became a die-hard body builder around ten years ago. It helps me stay fit, keeps my brain sharp, and gives me the energy to deal with the daily stresses of work and life. When I’m in the gym I have to focus which takes my mind off everything else other than what I’m doing.

What is your top tip for maintaining work/life balance?

As a baby boomer work hard, work hard, work hard was driven into me. I had always put my work responsibilities as a top priority, many times at the expense of family time and other forms of relaxation. What I’ve learned from mentoring and working with multi-generations in the work place is how to better ensure personal work life balance by setting limits on myself to how long I will work per day. I would advise others to set a timer on their cell phones and make it more difficult to check and respond to work emails after a certain hour, giving providers and staff a code word to text you after hours in an emergency so they don’t make a habit of just calling and interrupting your time off life at their will. I’ve learned that people around me treat me as I treat myself and if I don’t value myself neither will they. I don’t mean to shut yourself totally off to your team or your responsibilities, but at least set some boundaries to help ensure you refresh your mind and body.  I believe that a little shut down time makes us all better at our professional roles!

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