Margaret Moon, or “Maggie,” as she likes to be called, is out of breath as she arrives at her second-floor office in the David M. Rubenstein Child Health Building. Her teaching session on medical ethics across campus at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, she explains, ran a bit late. Catching her breath, she says, “I love teaching, I really do.” Indeed, teaching, along with research and clinical practice, has filled Moon’s time at Johns Hopkins since she joined the pediatrics faculty in 2004. Now, the former Robert Wood Johnson fellow is parlaying what she has learned into a new role for both herself and Johns Hopkins Children’s Center as its first chief medical officer (CMO).
So, you are pediatrics’ first CMO?
Yes, yes, I’m the pioneer CMO. When Tina Cheng took over as co-director, it was one of the things she really wanted to do. The Children’s Center is such a complicated place with operational activity that needs ongoing and detailed attention. Tina’s vision includes a much broader focus, so she decided to expand her leadership group to include a CMO.
What are the CMO’s responsibilities?
My perception of the job and what I’m interested in doing relate to the complexity of Johns Hopkins Medicine and its emphasis on research, education and the highest-quality patient care. These three parts of its mission can create obstacles for each other. The role of a chief medical officer is to minimize those obstacles.
There’s always a chance the demands we place on faculty members to teach and do research conflicts with the demands to provide high-quality patient care. The job of a chief medical officer is to make sure our patients don’t notice a potential conflict between the academic and clinical side. And part of that is managing patient and family expectations, making it clear that patients are treated by a team and not one individual physician. But it also means enhancing a culture of dedication to the patient.
Also making sure that the strategies we’re implementing are consistent with our mission and our organizational ethics, not just within pediatrics but throughout the Johns Hopkins Health System. So it is current operations, strategic planning and our interactions with our member hospitals.
Does a lot of authority come with the job?
Actually, there’s not a ton of authority in the role, except what I call convening authority—the authority to ask people to come together, achieve consensus and solve a problem. The real challenge facing the CMO is to implement that consensus through working with our department administrator Ted Chambers, nursing leadership, faculty and staff. Also, part of my job is to raise awareness of our children’s hospital to the Johns Hopkins Hospital community, to give our patients a stronger voice. Equally important, this is a communications job. I have to be able to listen and to hear.