by Gerald Zarlengo, MD, Chairman & CEO, COPIC Insurance Company
Featured in the January/February 2019 Colorado Medicine.
For those who have worked with me in the past, it probably comes as no surprise that I am using an analogy to describe my preparation for assuming the position of CEO at COPIC. Like other physicians, I remember the day when I received the life-changing news of my acceptance into medical school. There was profound excitement (and some nervous anticipation) about the coming years of intense study and a career of helping patients in their times of need. But, there was also a fear of how much information I needed to learn in short order and if I was capable of succeeding.
My experience since I was honored in March 2018 to be named next CEO has been somewhat similar to my early years in medicine. During that time, I started my “residency” in preparing for the task ahead. As physicians think about our careers, we accumulate knowledge in medical school and we hone a skill set in residency affording us a chance to practice our discipline. Then, we mature to an expertise during our years in practice with the need for continuing education. I see my role as CEO as a parallel process of matriculation that is an ongoing acquisition of knowledge and skills over time.
Last year, I had the opportunity to attend the Board of Directors meeting for the MPL Association (the national trade association for the medical liability insurance industry). I was graciously introduced as Dr. Ted Clarke’s replacement and took the opportunity to point out that no one could replace him and his remarkable career at COPIC. Instead, I view myself as his successor and hope to continue pushing for COPIC’s success by supporting those we insure while also striving to improve health care.
Returning to my analogy, physicians may recall the beginning of their careers and remember those first days, weeks, and months. I would assume it true that none of us thought to go into our initial workplaces, be it in a small group practice or large system, and try to reinvent the culture. More likely, we each developed our own style by taking the cues of what did and did not work for each of us.
I embrace this opportunity to work for you in maintaining the excellence COPIC has achieved over the years and under Dr. Clarke’s leadership. This is an incredible organization and as I am learning from my peers, it truly stands out as a unique company. COPIC leads by staying focused on our mission of “improving medicine in the communities we serve.” This is a result of our culture and how we “walk the walk” when it comes to our mission.
In closing, I think of the wonderful opportunity I had in my OB/GYN practice. I worked with the greatest partners who pushed me to be a better physician. I see this similarity in COPIC. The skilled individuals working for you are consistently raising the bar for improving the services we provide. Having just completed an election cycle, we heard promises for change and reformation on many issues. My promise is that I am committed to continue COPIC’s mission and be available to help those we partner with in any way I possibly can. I am humbled to be given this opportunity to serve you, our insureds, as well as the broader health care community.