The corner office: Tenet Healthcare's President of Hospital Operations Eric Evans on the importance of work-life balance and how healthcare is a team sport

Eric Evans enjoyed working in manufacturing, but felt his career was lacking the kind of purpose he needed. After realizing that the healthcare industry offered him the chance to utilize his leadership skills while also helping people in need, he jumped at the opportunity to join Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare in 2004.

Evans, EricMr. Evans quickly rose through the ranks at Tenet, holding a number of high-level leadership positions. He served as CEO of Lake Pointe (Texas) Health Network and market CEO of the Hospitals of Providence in El Paso, Texas, before becoming CEO of the Texas Region, Tenet's largest hospital region, in 2015. After just one year, he was promoted to his current role as president of hospital operations in March 2016. Today, Mr. Evans oversees 77 acute care hospitals, over 160 outpatient facilities and nearly 650 physician practices.

Mr. Evans received his MBA from Harvard Business School in Boston and holds a Bachelor's of Science in industrial management from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. Prior to his career in healthcare, Mr. Evans worked as an industrial engineer and material flow coordinator for the Saturn Corp., a former subsidiary of General Motors. He recently served as the chairman of the board of directors for the El Paso branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas and is also an American College of Healthcare Executives Fellow.

Here, Mr. Evans took the time to answer seven questions with Becker's.

Question: What's one thing that really piqued your interest in healthcare?

Eric Evans: It's hard to point to one thing, but the fundamental mission of healthcare and the ability of providers to help people during their most vulnerable moments is what drew me in. Previously I worked in manufacturing at GM. It was fun and rewarding, but I was missing that larger connection to a purpose. I went back to business school and there I met alums that were in healthcare. I realized that is where I wanted to be — that is my calling.

Q: What do you enjoy most about Dallas?

EE: It's definitely the people. Dallas has some of the nicest people you'll ever meet. I've lived all across the country and Dallas is one of the friendliest cities I've come across. The people are committed to the betterment of the city. They're entrepreneurial. They have a history of thinking big and believe nothing is impossible. And they're big supporters of culture and the arts. It's a fantastic place to raise a family. I have three boys, ages four, five and six.

Q: If you could eliminate one of the healthcare industry's problems overnight, which would it be?

EE: We have challenges in healthcare, but if I could get rid of one, I would ensure everyone has access to primary and preventive care. We currently all too often care for people in a reactive way, when they are already sick or show up in the emergency room. There are multiple factors that create inequities of care. It's awful and also drives up unnecessary costs.

There's a lot going on with regulation, oversight and funding of healthcare. We as providers are most concerned with making sure we provide access to care at the right time, place and cost. Anything that takes that level of access away is a step backward. It's very important for every American to have the opportunity to remain healthy. [Tenet is] working hard to be a part of the solution to this challenge... We support anything that helps increase and maintain access to the most appropriate level of care.

Q: What do you consider your greatest talent or skill outside of the C-suite?

EE: Most of what I do outside of the C-suite doesn't take talent or skill — I love reading, running and parenting. My wife would say my best talent is my ability to fall asleep anywhere at any time.

But seriously, I think I bring great curiosity and problem solving skills to any endeavor whether at Tenet or at the community boards I participate on. I'm also active in organizations that support community health and child development. These have been great experiences and have enabled me to communicate the broad importance and impact of healthcare on society and the economy.

Q: How do you revitalize yourself? 

EE: First, I'm truly energized by the job I get to do each day. It's naturally motivating and revitalizing to help improve outcomes, the patient experience and value of care. Tenet's mission statement is to help people live happier and healthier lives. It's a mission that connects all of our colleagues, and it's how I want to spend my time.

Outside of work, I try to get regular exercise. I run three to four times a week and go to the gym twice a week. I always take my vacation time. It's important to get away and gain some perspective when you're not in the everyday business of work. And I love spending time with my three sons...

Q: What's one piece of advice you remember most clearly?

EE: I was fortunate to grow up in a small rural community in Indiana. I learned that how you get where you're going is more important than where you end up. The journey is more important than the destination.

Another piece of career advice that's stuck with me is to take the challenge or role that makes you most uncomfortable, where success isn't guaranteed. It's easy to follow the path, but accepting a challenge outside of your comfort zone is both harder and more rewarding.

Q: What do you consider your greatest achievement at Tenet Healthcare so far?

EE: I've been with the company for 13 years, and my answer will continue to change over time. I'm just getting started.

With that said, I don't believe there is such a thing as an individual achievement in healthcare. Healthcare is a team sport. Rarely anything that is accomplished comes from an individual effort. I'm most proud of helping empower my colleagues to reach their full potential. We have a driven and diverse team that is making progress every day on more fully delivering on our mission.

 

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