Dr. Deborah Morris-Harris | The Interview
Dr. Morris-Harris traces her passion for medicine back to 7th grade and her interest in physiology and how systems work. Her passion for systems is the thread that weaves throughout her diverse career. Dr. Morris-Harris attended graduate school twice (once for neurobiology and once for a business administration) and attended medical school. Prior to her Executive Masters of Business Administration, while working at an HIV clinic integrated inside a Federally Qualified Health Center in Austin, a passion emerged for deciphering the puzzle that is funding resources for the under and uninsured.
The new Chief Medical Officer with Prism Health North Texas, between conferring with medical operations, collaborating with her provider team, and performing chart reviews, Dr. Morris-Harris opened up about her story and goals as the Prism Health North Texas CMO.
Q: What is something interesting or different that you’ve noticed at Prism Health North Texas?
A: “One of the things that is very unique about PHNTX is that there are so many talented people. I frequently make the analogy of a Silicon Valley atmosphere, you just have a lot of innovative, free- thinkers and sometimes that can be challenging but you know you’d rather have this kind of intellectual capacity to draw from than to be left wanting in those areas. It’s a great group. It’s one of the most diverse places I’ve ever worked.”
Q: How do you inspire the people and manage your team to do their best?
A: “It’s all about what you deposit into other people. That’s your legacy. A clinician working with HIV patients deposits in the patient hope and the ability to see past the disease to the fact that they can do anything. Similarly, a manager must deposit personal time into their employees to activate their individual motivations. In order to bring out the best and have the best team, you have to investment in learning what motivates them and to find shared core values that align with the organizational vision and strategy. That’s been my goal.”
Q: Looking into the future of HIV care, what is one thing you’re most excited about?
A: “It’s a good time to be in this field. Exciting changes are on the way whether or not we see a vaccine in the next 5 years. There’s talk of long acting biologics in prevention that might replace current daily oral therapy with a once-a- month injection. That’s exciting. We hope through our clinical trials unit to be a part of programs that will get us to zero new infections annually.
Q: What are some of the initiatives you’re hoping to implement during your tenure at PHNTX?
A: “I’d like to see a progressive increase in the number of patients we’re seeing. Ideally, I’d like to extend care to those who are at high-risk for HIV, expanding access to adjacent communities. In addition, we should reach out to the voiceless, with an emphasis on women, the sex trafficking demographic, transgender women, and women in prisons. We must ensure that we maintain our excellent quality of care with every new initiative—“It’s doable, it’s tangible.”