Finishing strong

From community college to C-suite: How this DO flourishes with his ‘never quit’ mentality

Joshua Lenchus, DO, is making history as the first DO president of the Florida Medical Association.


This month’s DOs to Know column exemplifies the famous Ralph Waldo Emerson quote, “Life is a journey, not a destination.”

Joshua Lenchus, DO, started his academic journey by graduating from community college, then graduating from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Science in pharmacy. Early in his pharmaceutical career, he was instrumental in developing Wellington Regional Medical Center’s clinical pharmacy program.

His dream of becoming a physician later led him to what is now the Nova Southeastern University Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine, followed by an internal medicine residency at the University of Miami – Jackson Memorial Hospital. After working there as a hospitalist, associate program director and as chief of the health system’s medical staff, he became the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) at Broward Health Medical Center. Today, he serves as the senior vice president and CMO of the entire Broward Health system.

In August, Dr. Lenchus made history when he was inaugurated as the first DO president of the Florida Medical Association.

I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Dr. Lenchus about his life and career, and found myself inspired by his unwavering dedication to patient care and his “never quit” mentality.

Joshua Lenchus, DO

What brought you to osteopathic medicine and what are your thoughts on the growth and direction of the profession?

I knew I wanted to be a physician from a young age. On my initial application for pharmacy school at the University of Florida, I wrote that I was going to eventually go to medical school and they still accepted me.

No one in my family is in the medical field. I did not know anything about DOs, except for the time I was injured as a kid and sutured by a DO. Years later, when I was working at Wellington Regional Medical Center as a clinical pharmacist, I interacted with a lot of attendings and residents there. As we got to know each other, I mentioned that I was interested in going to medical school. These physicians, MDs and DOs alike, ultimately advocated and supported my application to medical school.

At the beginning, I was open to being either an MD or a DO. Then, through the process of preparing and interviewing for admission to medical school, I thought, “This holistic kind of approach of the mind, body, spirit that the DOs are advocating for is pretty intriguing.”

I was ultimately accepted into what is now the Nova Southeastern University Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine, and really learned an incredible amount. The growth and direction of the osteopathic profession is tremendous, and I am incredibly happy about the future of osteopathic medicine.

I feel that the limiting factor, however, has been the residency spots. There is a relative stagnation in the number of postgraduate training positions for an ever-increasing number of medical school graduates. Overall, I’m incredibly happy that we’re opening more osteopathic medical schools and increasing enrollment, positively affecting the pipeline.

We see a lot of DOs coming from non-traditional backgrounds. You were a pharmacist before becoming a doctor. How does a non-traditional background positively influence the profession?

I think there’s a tremendous amount of maturity that comes from a non-traditional background.

For medical students who had prior careers, there is something we experience and get out of previous training. There is a level of maturity you develop before arriving to medical school and you have a different mindset. I voluntarily gave up a salary as a pharmacist and went into debt to become a physician, so when I went to class, my mindset was, “I’m going to sit in the third or fourth row and take in as much as I can. I’m going to squeeze every ounce out of this that I can get.”

There’s a different sort of perspective in terms of having been in the workforce and recognizing the value of your financial investment in medical school. There’s a bit of a different approach in terms of how you study and apply what you’re learning.

Having pharmacy or nursing as a background during medical school can also make a difference. The volume of information I encountered was still tremendous, but the words “hypertension” or “gout” were not foreign to me.

As a pharmacist, I could tell you what was wrong with a patient simply by looking at their medication profile, but I went to medical school so that I could understand the complete diagnostic component.  

You are the president of the Florida Medical Association (FMA), which is dedicated to the service and assistance of the states’ MD and DO physicians. What have been some of the biggest challenges for the state of Florida’s doctors?

In my inaugural speech as FMA president in August 2022, I said, “The FMA is the home for all physicians in the state of Florida, but the FMA does not need to be home for all issues in the state of Florida.” There are many issues in need of attention, but some are considered distractors that are not entirely related to medical practice and we need to fight to help physicians practice medicine. That’s the tagline for the FMA and litmus test on what we need to advocate for in advancing our mission.

Medicine has changed over the past several decades, both positively and negatively. I think the positive changes have been the rapidity with which technological advancements have burgeoned treatments and interventions.

Dr. Lenchus at the Florida Medical Association

Our ability to treat disease is better now than it ever has been. Conditions that caused death 10-20 years ago are no longer the prime issues of concern. That’s incredibly positive.

Technological advancements have brought us electronic medical records, which have streamlined patient care, but I’m not entirely sure that they’ve addressed technology mirroring our workflow.

There is a dearth of physicians representing our industry in legislative roles. That needs to change. Medicine is one of the most heavily regulated industries in the country. Nowhere else are laws passed by people who do not have the requisite knowledge, skill or expertise in terms of dictating what we do for practicing medicine in the state of Florida. We need more representation of our industry in legislatures.

As the CMO of Broward Health, you are at the helm of a large health care system. What are the principles that you employ so your patients can receive the highest standard of medical care?

I believe in following evidence-based medicine and driving its standardization. We have put standards, guidelines and recommendations in place to prevent disparate medical care. If you come in with condition X, you should be treated for that condition; your treatment should not be based on socioeconomic class, where you live, race or religion. None of that should matter.

Coming from my training at Jackson Health, I told people, “I am not interested in a patient’s background or insurance status; I am going to provide the same exemplary care and treatment for everyone. Follow-up care may obviously differ due to availability of resources, but while you’re in our hospital, everyone is treated based on their needs regardless of insurance.”

The objective at Broward Health is to empower physicians to provide the highest level of quality care that patients deserve and expect. When a doctor provides the highest standard of care, we recognize them. If we notice that a physician is not meeting this standard, we have processes in place to reeducate and encourage them.

You are trained in internal medicine. What would you like others to know about this medical specialty?

Internal medicine is a fantastic specialty, because instead of having to pick a singular focus, you are required to be multidisciplinary. With one patient, you could be dealing with renal issues and with the next patient, you could be treating liver, lung, brain or cardiac complications. I really enjoy the diversity that internal medicine provides. If you want to choose a medical subspecialty, internal medicine is a great starting point.

As a fellow Broward (Community) College grad, I noticed on your LinkedIn profile that you mention “from community college to C-suite.” What advice do you have for others who came from humble beginnings and aspire to lead at the executive level?

I wrote, “from community college to C-suite” on my LinkedIn profile for exactly that purpose. My path was not greased. No one gave me anything. I made my own opportunities and opened my own doors.

It’s also a matter of dogged persistence and determination. If you want to get something accomplished, then don’t allow your self-imposed limits to stand in the way of completing the task, no matter the size. Where there is a will, there is a way. If you want to accomplish something, you have to put your shoulder into it and power forward even if you sometimes get knocked down.

I tell people all the time, “It’s not the successes that make us. It’s the failures and our ability to get up when we fall.” I’ve gone through periods of adversity, personally and professionally, and I think that I’m better for it. It doesn’t kill you, but it will make you stronger.

I know I’m not the smartest, fastest or strongest man. I was not valedictorian in high school. I didn’t finish number one in community college or pharmacy or medical school, but I made it to where I belong. You should never let where you come from dictate where you can go.

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