Connecting our world at UW Medicine

Get to Know: Anneliese Schleyer, Interim Chief Medical Officer

Anneliese Schleyer, MD, MHA, has held many roles in her 32 years at UW Medicine — from finance intern at Harborview Medical Center to medical student to hospitalist to associate chief medical officer. Starting July 1, she’s bringing her deep organizational knowledge and dedication to patient care to a new role: interim chief medical officer.

Read on to learn what inspired her to go into healthcare, what she finds exciting about her new role and where you can find her on weekends [Hint: It involves a 110-pound furry friend named Zandor and a new puppy named Blue].

How did you first get involved in medicine?

Growing up, I had the opportunity to spend summers working with my dad, a clinical researcher in surgery at Penn Medicine. It was exciting to see how the research team worked with doctors — faculty, residents and students — and nurses to create innovative approaches to meet the needs of patients. After a senior project in pediatric surgery at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), I was captivated and inspired to be involved in medicine.

My mother is a retired teacher and my father was a teacher as well. They showed me the value of learning from each other. We are all learners and teachers, especially in healthcare. The patients I’ve cared for have been some of my most memorable teachers. I have always appreciated the opportunity to learn from them and my colleagues across disciplines, our faculty, our residents and students and every member of our healthcare team.

You’ve been at UW Medicine for 32 years; what keeps you here?

I went to UW for a master’s in health administration in the early 1990s, and during that time, I worked at Harborview in the Finance Office. I remember walking into Harborview and I thought it was magical. Thirty-two years later, I still feel that way. After graduate school, I was a research coordinator in the Department of Medicine for three years and then went to Washington, D.C., to do health policy before returning to medical school at the UW School of Medicine. I did my residency in Internal Medicine here as well and joined the faculty in 2002. With a colleague, I started the Hospital Medicine program at Harborview and I continue to practice hospital medicine at Harborview.

What’s kept me here are the people. We are so fortunate that at UW and UW Medicine, the people are innovative, thoughtful, creative and collaborative, and I’ve always felt we were stronger together. As I look back over the last two years of the pandemic and our response to it, there really was a sense of being in this together. Everyone contributes to what we do.

How do you plan to approach your role and goals as interim chief medical officer?

As I transition into this new role, I will take the time to meet with people and listen and I aim to build partnerships across disciplines and departments with our faculty, residents, fellows and students. I think for any role at UW Medicine, it’s the relationships, the respect and the collaboration that allows us to do the work we do.

As we emerge (hopefully) from the COVID-19 pandemic, prioritizing each other and supporting every member of our UW Medicine team is paramount. The pandemic has been a life-changing event for everyone and now is a really important time to continue that support. We need to ask: How do we partner and continue to do the work that we do? And what have we learned from the pandemic? What lessons will we take forward as we continue to strive to be innovative and creative, to achieve the quadruple aim — improving the patient experience, achieving better health outcomes, controlling costs and addressing clinician satisfaction — and best serve our patients, our people and the community?

What are some of your initial goals?

I will continue to partner with leaders and those on the front lines across our system on quality, safety and risk mitigation initiatives. In addition, I will work with the UW Medicine Executive Leadership team on physician-led activities in clinical practice transformation as we continue to strive to achieve the quadruple aim. I look forward to meeting with clinicians and team members across UW Medicine to hear their ideas for how we can continue to support them and their departments.

How will your time be split between this new role and working in the clinic?

I will continue to practice as a hospitalist at Harborview for about 20% of the time, working with residents and medical students.

When it comes to patient-centered care, what work needs to be done?

As we continue to strive to mitigate health inequities and support equity, diversity and inclusion, we need to pause and ask who is not at the table. How do we include all voices? How do we build a more inclusive environment? Are we looking to answer this question through the eyes of a patient? We’ve been fortunate to have patients and families involved in quality and safety work which informs our approach. Reflecting on that, we have amazing teams! It’s the strength, resilience and innovation of those teams that will continue to support us moving forward.

Why are you excited about starting your new role?

It’s truly a privilege to continue to work with an incredible executive leadership team across UW Medicine and with Dr. Dellit in his new role. It’s also a great opportunity to get to know even more people across the system — that’s what makes me really excited.

There are so many developments in clinical care, education, research, technology, digital health, population health and simulation science. UW Medicine is a place where all that comes together. We have extraordinary faculty and clinicians in all disciplines and cutting-edge clinical care, education, research and innovation that changes the world. Bringing this together creates the roadmap of where we are going and how we are going to get there.

How have your clinical and hospital administrative experience influenced one another?

I feel very fortunate that I still get to practice on the front line as it helps me think about what I do administratively through the lens of a patient. Patient care has always been inspiring to me.

What do you like to do when you are not at UW Medicine?

On weekends you can often find me at a dog park with my 110 lb. goofy love bug dog Zandor and with my husband Peregrin and two children and our new puppy Blue. My daughter is going to college in the fall and my son will be in 10th grade. On weekends and in the summer, we spend a lot of time on Whidbey Island where my husband’s family is from. You can find us on the beach or hiking in the mountains.

Zandor
Blue

We love to travel, and as we continue to emerge from the pandemic, we are looking forward to doing that again. My family is from Germany and Switzerland and this summer we are planning to go with my mother, who is 90, to visit family and see where she grew up. My daughter and I are also going on a mother-daughter hiking trip.

What’s something people might not know about you?

I grew up on the East Coast and have been to every state in the country. I am a big fan of dogs, but I imagine that to anyone who knows me that is no surprise.

Editor’s note: Responses were lightly edited for length, clarity and style.

Photo caption: Anneliese Schleyer with her family on a hike.

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