Michelle Dorsey, MD, speaks with Vice President Mike Pence
Michelle Dorsey, MD, speaks with Vice President Mike Pence. Photo Credit: Official White House Photo by D. Myles Cullen

Physician Spends Year as White House Fellow in Effort to Improve Customer Experience for Millions of Americans

Teresa Joseph
Teresa Joseph
Michelle Dorsey, MD, speaks with Vice President Mike Pence
Michelle Dorsey, MD, speaks with Vice President Mike Pence. Photo Credit: Official White House Photo by D. Myles Cullen
Michelle Dorsey, MD, was Assigned to the White House Office of Management and Budget

As a White House Leadership Fellow, Michelle Dorsey, MD, spent the last year advancing the standing of the Veterans Administration.

Dr. Dorsey, chief of radiology at the Phoenix VA Health Care System and a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Radiology at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix, was the first physician to represent the Department of Veterans Affairs as a White House Fellow. Her appointment was from October 2018 to September 2019.

White House Fellows in front of White House
White House Fellows
“It was an amazing experience,” Dr. Dorsey said. “I was able to work with extremely dedicated public servants from across the federal government in support of the President’s management agenda. The other fellows in my cohort were all remarkable, accomplished people in their fields, including experts from NASA, the Department of State, the Department of Defense and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We had the chance to spend significant time with senior leaders and cabinet members from a variety of disciplines and learn different leadership philosophies and practices. It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

Dr. Dorsey worked in the White House Office of Management and Budget, providing programmatic leadership of the federal government’s Customer Experience Cross-Agency Priority Goal. Improvements to customer service have the potential to impact millions of Americans in such areas as veterans’ health care, Medicare, federal student aid, airport security screening, national parks, passport services, and emergency and disaster relief.

“I worked to advance the aim of providing a modern, streamlined and responsive customer experience across the federal government,” Dr. Dorsey said. “I spent a lot of time establishing relationships with representatives at the 25 High Impact Service Providers (HISP) and facilitated their fulfillment of the customer experience requirements set forth in Office of Management and Budget Circular A-11 Guidance. I hope the progress we made will enhance the ability of the federal government to deliver customer-centered services and improve millions of citizens’ experiences.”

Last year, Dr. Dorsey said they accomplished many “firsts.” They facilitated completion of the first HISP Self-Assessments, which established a baseline of customer experience maturity across government. They also helped HISPs complete the first publicly released action plans, outlining future directions for customer service growth in such areas as measurement, governance, organization and culture, customer research and service design. HISP customer feedback was published on Performance.gov dashboards for the first time in September 2019, which was the culmination of efforts dating back to the Clinton Administration. Finally, Dr. Dorsey was honored with a Service to the Citizen Award as part of the CAP Goal Customer Experience Interagency Team, which recognizes public servants who demonstrate excellence in their delivery of services that impact the public’s lives.

“One of the biggest lessons for me was that the capacity of our federal government is truly vast and awe-inspiring,” Dr. Dorsey said. “Coming from the field, we are frequently insulated from the work of other agencies. It was incredible to have the chance to meet such enthusiastic, dedicated people working across government, many toward common goals. There were offices, programs and initiatives underway, many of which were new to me, aimed at improving the lives of countless Americans.”

Dr. Dorsey and family in White House Press Briefing Room
Dr. Dorsey and family
Dr. Dorsey said the experience gave her a “much greater appreciation for the enormity and interconnectedness of my own agency, the Department of Veterans Affairs, which employs more than 350,000 people. I visited a lot of places while in D.C., but I still believe the VA has the most noble and inspiring mission, to fulfill President Lincoln’s promise ‘to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan.’ ”

Dr. Dorsey said she is fortunate to have had the support of senior leadership, including the Executive in Charge of the Veterans Health Administration, Richard Stone, MD, in working on larger initiatives within the VA. She has a part-time role in the Office of Patient Centered Care and Cultural Transformation, working to more broadly address the social determinants of veterans’ health.

Dr. Dorsey has already reached out to many of her contacts from last year to advance initiatives that benefit veterans. For example, she recently facilitated a connection between the VA’s National Center on Homelessness among veterans and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.

“I hope to continue to leverage my experience in the White House to improve the care we provide for our veterans,” Dr. Dorsey said.

About the College

Founded in 2007, the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix inspires and trains exemplary physicians, scientists and leaders to optimize health and health care in Arizona and beyond. By cultivating collaborative research locally and globally, the college accelerates discovery in a number of critical areas — including cancer, stroke, traumatic brain injury and cardiovascular disease. Championed as a student-centric campus, the college has graduated 669 physicians, all of whom received exceptional training from nine clinical partners and more than 2,600 diverse faculty members. As the anchor to the Phoenix Bioscience Core, which is projected to have an economic impact of $3.1 billion by 2025, the college prides itself on engaging with the community, fostering education, inclusion, access and advocacy.