Perspectives: Edmund F. Funai, MD

For someone who doesn’t know you, how would you describe your role and contribution to health?

I initially trained as an obstetrician and then as a high-risk maternal fetal medicine specialist. I did that for a number of years and really got a lot of satisfaction out of improving the lives of patients. But early in my career I got an opportunity to also take a leadership role in not only providing direct patient care, but creating systems and policies and procedures and cultures that provided the best possible care for hundreds, if not thousands, of patients. What I learned in the process is that I’m just as happy to be one step removed and in the background making it all work seamlessly and improving the lives of many without necessarily being front and center and being the one who receives the thanks from the patient individually. So, I found that this can make an even bigger impact- putting some of the analytic skills and problem solving skills that I developed over time to really improving the lives of not only patients but also faculty and staff. I think that if I had to describe myself, it would be as somebody who makes sure things get done and things get done properly for the benefit of everybody, including the patient, but also the team because you have to take care of the team that provides the care so that they can provide the best care. At USF Health, it’s exactly that. We’re in the process of rebuilding systems and processes that make it automatic each and every time a patient is seen that they’re getting the best evidence-based care and they’re getting it in such a way that they really feel comfortable and happy with the entire experience.


What challenges have you faced on the road to your present career?


I think that the lesson I learned on looking back on a lot of the leadership positions that I’ve had is that you’re never prepared for any job. What you have to do is- A: have confidence to rise to the challenge and- B: be willing to say “I don’t know” and be able to learn in real-time. That’s been the case every time that I’ve had a leadership role, from being the chief operating officer of the five hospital system to the chief operating officer of USF Health. You learn the role of keeping your mouth closed and ears open, and you observe and then you work to improve the environment you find yourself in.



What is the one piece of advice you would give to yourself when you were in college?


First and foremost, and I write this in a note and it goes in the pockets of the the white coats that I’ve donated over the years, very simple advice- buy comfortable shoes. And that may seem strange or quirky, but there’s logic behind it. You have chosen, as a budding physician, a demanding field that requires you to work long hours to put priorities and needs of others ahead of yourself and that can be both physically and mentally demanding. So, what you need to learn to do all the time so that you can be at your best for your patients is look for the small things that keep you together, keep you comfortable and keep you healthy. And I’ve got to tell you, from being a resident and working 24-hour and 36-hour shifts, that starts with a comfortable pair of shoes. But it’s more symbolic — take care of yourself, so you can take care of others the way your profession requires you to do.



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Senior Vice President of USF Health and Dean of the Morsani College of Medicine

Number one, love medicine -- be passionate about it and always assume you don't know enough. Constantly want to learn."
USF Health: To envision and implement the future of health.

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