Member Spotlight – Cole Kaleta, MBA, FACHE

Tell us about your background.

Growing up in an Army family, I had the opportunity to experience many different places and cultures. I enjoyed seeing the world, playing team sports, and participating in Boy Scouts where I learned a lot about leadership, citizenship, and the great outdoors achieving the rank of an Eagle Scout. My father, an Army aviator, spurred my interest in flight as a young adult, and I earned my private pilot’s license and instrument rating before attending the Air Force Academy.

After transferring to Baylor University to study aviation and business, I networked with others having past military experience, one of whom spent their career in healthcare administration and was now involved with Baylor’s MBA degree program specializing in Healthcare Administration. I found many similarities between the two industries in the technical sense including complex problem solving, an intense focus on safety, and the drive for efficiency. What really drew me to healthcare is the ability to serve my community. It was the first time I had heard the term “servant leadership,” and I knew from my experiences growing up that I wanted to incorporate this into my life’s work. As a healthcare administrator, I find incredible joy in working with others and contributing to the health and well-being of those in our community.

What do you like to do in your free time?

My wife and I have a young family, with an almost three-year-old and a six-month-old, so our free time is spent doing activities with them. Whether it be playing in our backyard, the local pool, or one of the many museums in Houston, we are always having fun as a family. I also enjoy anything outdoors including camping, hiking, skiing, and fishing as well as using some creativity in the kitchen or on the grill.

What was the best piece of advice that you received from a mentor throughout your administrative career? 

Run into “burning buildings”. No, not literally of course, but be brave, speak up and volunteer to lead the project that seems insurmountable. Even if you have no knowledge of the topic, surround yourself with a team of subject matter experts and become one yourself. Take action and don’t shy away from challenges or the unknown

What helped you most when preparing for the Board of Governors’ Exam?

As the co-chair for ACHE-SETC’s Fellow Advancement Committee, I recommend our Board of Governors’ Exam Prep Course; a 10-week course taught by expert faculty that covers all 10 topics included in the exam. Having facilitated the course, I can say that this would have been invaluable when I was preparing.

I utilized the Board of Governors Exam Study Bundle and found the flashcards especially helpful. One of the best pieces of advice I was given was to read the question and each of the answer choices carefully. Although there may be multiple answers that seem plausible, choose the very best answer for the given scenario. This seems obvious, but could not have rung more true while in the moment of taking the exam.

What currently is the biggest challenge that you face as a healthcare leader?

Looking through the lens of someone responsible for operations, the greatest challenge we face is staffing the frontline. Healthcare relies on the availability of a skilled workforce and as an industry, we must simultaneously focus on up-skilling our existing staff and attracting new talent.

More broadly speaking, the transition to value-based care in a fee-for-service environment is a challenge all entities are facing in the industry. An intensified focus on quality, efficiency, patient experience, and overall population health will be a necessity over time as our healthcare expenditure continues to outpace other developed countries.

What additional advice would you give an early careerist who would like to become a healthcare leader, like yourself?

Operate with humility. As a leader, when your team succeeds, you have succeeded. Recognition comes to those that recognize others. Never forget that healthcare is a team sport and without the people we serve and the relationships we build, we cannot accomplish our goals on our own. Stand firm in your morals and ethics and ensure your decisions as a leader meet your standards of integrity so you can always be true to yourself.

-Interview by Simran Khadka and Sofia Herrera

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