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Before joining the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2015 as under secretary for health, Dr. David Shulkin built a reputation as a patient-focused health care administrator. Part of his legend includes walking the floors of New York’s Beth Israel Medical Center after midnight to investigate why the night shift performed more poorly than others.

At the time, he was CEO.


That might carry more than a whiff of micromanagement if not for other working habits that, taken together, paint a more benign picture of an executive who wants to observe a hospital’s workings rather than interpret them solely from a chart, and who embraces unconventional thinking. Shulkin still sees VA patients, for instance, to remain connected with the organization’s inner workings.

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