Head of PRMS, Tonya Davies, Reflects on Her First Year with the Company
As a part of PRMS’ ongoing commitment to behavioral health, we invited Head of PRMS, Tonya Davies, CPCU, ARe to reflect on her experiences since joining the company in October 2019 – when PRMS formally re-joined Transatlantic Reinsurance Company (TransRe), the long-time principal reinsurer for our insurance offering, The Psychiatrists’ Program. Tonya has spent the past 25 years underwriting medical professional liability for hospitals, physicians, long-term care and other facilities, and has worked as an underwriter, facultative reinsurer and most recently, in treaty reinsurance. Today, in addition to leading the PRMS team, she is a Senior Vice President at TransRe.
When I was first approached about leading PRMS last July, I was overwhelmed by the idea and did not know what to expect. My first challenge was to think about how to make the transition from underwriting to leadership, and from reinsurance to primary insurance. Being presented with this position forced me to be thoughtful about my next steps and expectations, not only of what I would inherit, but also of the impact I hoped to have on the business and the organization. I knew PRMS as a reinsurer and had the utmost respect for the leadership team and their accomplishments, however, I was not well versed on the full extent of what a day in the life of a program administrator entailed. I took comfort in knowing I was inheriting a dedicated, hardworking team who is knowledgeable and passionate about the business and the physicians we insure – today, I can still say that I am very pleased in this regard. We have had some changes, but everyone here is committed to the company and comes ready to contribute every day. This excites me because I want to engender an environment where team members feel it is safe to collaborate, offer opinions, and participate in healthy and respectful debate.
Everyone who has ever taken a role like this wants to have a positive impact on the company and its people – my goal was no different. I expected to dive right in with respect to business strategy and new opportunities. I am enthusiastic about strategizing business development and increasing brand awareness. However, it is also important to take the time to explore all areas of an organization to gain a full appreciation – the last 12 months have been a great deal of exploration, listening, and learning from all facets of the company. I am grateful this position grants me the ability to be involved in various aspects of the business, from operations to underwriting, and more. I even get the opportunity to tap into my creative side by offering marketing ideas – which I am sure secretly makes the marketing team cringe! Because I have taken time to listen and learn, I am better versed on our product, suite of services, and our strengths.
The cadence at which we conduct business has surprised me most! Our business does not have a pre-determined cycle – it moves at a fast pace for most of the year. And while it has been many years since I worked in the primary sector as an underwriter, I did not have a full appreciation for what it takes to make an operation like PRMS successful. I knew there were several disciplines involved in the business, but the amount of work that occurs, from marketing to underwriting the business, not to mention the full suite of services we provide, is astounding. I hit the ground running!
But of course, the most obvious surprise has been COVID-19. I never expected COVID to throw the world into a tailspin; I do not think anyone did. It has changed the way we work and connect as a team, as we all are working remotely. It changed the dynamics of how our clients provide services by moving to telepsychiatry, as well as how we connect with clients and partners – everything is virtual!
My favorite memory is easily last November when PRMS hosted the District Branch Appreciation and Fall Receptions. It seemed like a marathon at a sprinter’s pace in the moment, but meeting our district branch partners and many of the doctors was exhilarating. Melanie Smith, who is now retired, is a dynamo when it comes to client relations and networking. She and the PRMS team made sure I had an opportunity to get to say hello to each of our guests. I will miss seeing everyone I met last year and making new connections this year, but I look forward to a time when we can all come together again.
Knowing the company’s history, I knew PRMS was an innovative company with great tenacity and determination, but to see it firsthand is amazing! The company has shown tremendous resilience and versatility this year. The staff was placed into a new culture with a new parent company and they have had to adapt to a new leader, but the cherry on top of the past year is to have been able to continue to work during a pandemic and service our clients and partners at such a high level. We have pivoted in every way by attending virtual meetings and exhibits, marketing to psychiatrists and partner organizations, and providing up-to-date educational and regulatory changes affecting our insureds’ practices. This has been an unprecedented time with many uncertainties for everyone, but I believe PRMS has assisted our clients and the greater psychiatric community through it all by keeping them well informed and providing a voice of calm in so many instances – something that makes me incredibly proud.
I have learned many lessons this year, but two that come to mind are to be present and the need to retrain my thought process. While I have always fancied myself as a good multitasker, this year I have learned to be present. There is a time to multitask, but there is also a time to be in the moment. Whether you are enjoying a success, taking time to focus on strategy, or meeting with team members, being present is important – and every leader should appreciate this time.
I have learned there is a different thought process required as a program administrator than as an individual contributor at a reinsurance company. As a reinsurer, much of the work and heavy lifting is done by the time the reinsurer gets involved with the risk you reinsure; your thought process is high-level and you do not have as much influence on the processes at the company level. As a program administrator, you are building the process, as well as executing it. Because you have more influence, you must exude the skills to think closer to the foundation to make sure you cover all bases. I am a work-in-progress in retraining my mind and thought processes!
On the Future…
Mental health was an important subject matter pre-COVID, and the pandemic has put extreme duress on the mental wellbeing of many, bringing this issue even further to the forefront. Isolation from friends and family, anxiety over the uncertainties of treatment, and the spread of COVID are significant issues for anyone to handle. But they are better managed with the professional acumen of psychiatrists and mental health professionals – simply put, we need psychiatrists.
PRMS will continue our efforts to support psychiatrists with a great insurance product and education to mitigate risk. And if our doctors have a claim, we will continue to provide the personalized claims handling in which our clients are accustomed. This November celebrates our 34th year providing medical professional liability insurance to psychiatrists, and it is my privilege to be part of PRMS. The PRMS team is committed to finding new ways to support healthcare, and I believe we are poised to respond to future trends appropriately. We have tremendous support from our parent company, TransRe, and with our specialized knowledge, the future is bright for PRMS!
For more about Tonya Davies and her background, read our blog post from February 2020, “Meet Our New Business Leader Tonya Davies.”
To learn more about the superior psychiatry-specific insurance program and comprehensive services offered by PRMS, click here.
Authored by PRMS.