The parking lot of Lexington Medical Center is consistently filled and yet always has room for just one more car. The concept aptly applies to the work of the facility’s senior vice president and system chief medical officer Dr. Brent Powers, whose professional capacity tends to expand as the organization does. He began as a physician, was promoted to vice president of patient safety and quality improvement and was promoted again to his current role in less than 20 years.
On January 6, 1971, Lexington County Hospital, as it was first called, housed 125 beds and employed 250 people. Today, Lexington Medical Center is a 607-bed hospital and employs a staff of more than 7,800 healthcare professionals. Entrusted by its board of directors to lead the way is Powers, who also happens to serve on the Lexington School District One board of trustees, a post he has held since 2012.
Powers says his packed schedule is due in large part to his desire to serve.
“It’s easy to sit on the sidelines and complain about the way the world is, and I get that some people can’t get in the ring, but I chose to not sit on the sidelines and to get in the ring and try to make it better,” said Powers. “I am also a deep believer that at the end of my days I want someone to say good and faithful son, so service is an obvious way to do that.”
As Powers graces the halls of the facility each day, he is ever mindful of the impact he has made. From the retired school principal who recalls the care he provided for his parents during their transition, to the staff member who taps him on the shoulder just to greet him, at every few steps, Powers senses the effect he has on his surroundings. The goal, according to him, is to continue the work of leadership development in himself and among those he encounters both personally and professionally. Though 30 to 40 percent of his work is clinical, he invests much of his time developing leaders.
When cultivating leaders from among the ranks at the hospital and within the cohort of medical students who are completing their residencies, Powers said it is important for them to be readers and to be curious.
“Reading about things gives you a flavor for what the truth is and having a curious mindset is important because it challenges your personal growth and endears others to you,” said Powers. “Generally, if you go to someone with an air of curiosity, they open up and share versus if you engage in a personal interaction with an air of authority, it shuts the conversation down.”
Powers said employing this wisdom helps up and coming leaders to learn where they are needed and where they are most effective.
Powers earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in chemistry (German minor) from Wake Forest University, the Doctor of Medicine degree with honors from Wake Forest University School of Medicine and the Master of Business Administration degree with distinction in finance from Wake Forest University’s Babcock Graduate School of Management.
Powers and his wife Heather, who is also a physician, have three daughters who are all products of Lexington School District One.