Six months into her term as chief of staff for Northeast Georgia Medical Center, Dr. Priscilla Strom is enjoying her post. As only the second female chief in the hospital’s history, the Longstreet Clinic general surgeon has a unique past.
The daughter of missionaries, Strom spent 10 years as the only surgeon at a mission hospital in Bangladesh, where she became fluent in Bengali. In 1994, she moved to Georgia to be close to her ailing parents and started practicing with Gainesville Surgical Associates.
In 2007, she joined the Longstreet Clinic, where she’s stayed ever since.
Elected in January 2015 to serve as Northeast Georgia Medical Center’s chief of staff for a two-year term, Strom’s charge is to help the hospital improve patient care and oversee the work and qualifications of medical staff — including physicians, nurse practitioners, physician’s assistants and nurse midwives.
“I like policies and procedures. I guess I’m kind of a geeky person in that way,” Strom said. “That stuff to me is just fun. Medicine is so complicated these days, and we are getting more and more into developing best practices. That’s one of our projects in the next year or two — developing those for different specialties.”
While over the past few years she’s been involved more and more with medical staff leadership, much of her career has been spent as a general surgeon and most recently specializing in breast surgery.
A graduate of Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Strom earned her medical degree at Emory University School of Medicine, then went on to complete an internship and general surgery residency at Emory University Affiliated Hospitals and was a J.D. Martin Fellow in trauma.
She also holds a master’s degree in both theological studies and bioethics.
Her professional medical career also includes mentoring students at the local branch of Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. She is certified by the American Board of Surgery and is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and a member of the Hall County Medical Society and many other similar associations and organizations.
In short, said Dr. Ronald Lewis, she’s the right person for the job.
“Being chief of staff is very difficult. We have hundreds of doctors on staff and managing all of them can be quite difficult. You’re responsible for the quality and behavior within your fellow peers,” said Lewis, an M.D. and general surgeon with Northeast Georgia Physicians Group Surgical Associates.
He should know. Lewis is a former chief of staff for the hospital.
“(Dr. Strom) does an excellent job. She is an excellent listener and she makes good decisions,” Lewis said. “She has the health and wellbeing of the community at heart in the decisions she makes.”
As the second female chief of staff in the hospital’s history, — the first being Brenda Kowalske, elected in 2004 — Strom said she looks forward to the next year and a half of leadership.
At the end of the day, she explained, her job is “making sure the medical staff who join the hospital are qualified staff. We think Northeast Georgia Medical Center is a great hospital, and that’s partly because they have great medical staff who care about doing a good job.”