Tell us about your background and what inspired you to pursue a career in healthcare.
I was in practice as a cardiothoracic surgeon in Raleigh, NC for 27 years. I absolutely loved taking care of patients. I was involved in hospital medical staff leadership the entire time, and as my career progressed, I took on more and more administrative responsibilities. I was great friends with my CMO, and he first suggested that I consider transitioning to a full-time administrative role. One of the first things he encouraged me to do was to join the ACHE. I enrolled in the EMBA program at Brandeis at age 58, which was a little scary, but a lot of fun- my son was getting his MBA at University of Chicago around the same time, and we would tease each other about whose program was tougher! I became a FACHE in March of 2022, and have been so grateful for the networking and camaraderie!
What activities do you like to do in your free time?
I am a runner and have completed seven marathons. I love to participate in international races- I have run marathons in Rome and Berlin, and have completed the Paris marathon twice. Running helps me keep in shape and manage stress. I stick in my earbuds, head out the door and zone out! I also play guitar and keyboards for fun.
What is your favorite ACHE memory or activity?
I was really excited to attend the ACHE Congress [in 2022]. It was fun to reconnect in person, and I was able to meet up with a lot of old friends as well as make new ones. The sessions were high quality, and I learned a lot as well.
How do you envision healthcare in the next 10 years?
COVID-19 turned everything on its head. I don’t think anyone could have predicted the fallout from the pandemic on the labor market. Recruiting, training and retaining nurses, doctors and allied personnel has got to be job one. As leaders, we need to do ab better job addressing burnout. I see a greater role for partnerships with big technology to help shape evidence-based care- universal adoption of EHR’s has afforded us as an industry an incredibly rich data set. We have an unprecedented opportunity to leverage this data to improve care. Finally, I am happy there is an increasing awareness of, and concern about, the vast disparities in social determinants of health. As leaders, we have an obligation to ensure that healthcare is equitable and available to everyone.
-Interview: Caliann Ferguson