7 hospital, health system CEOs and executives: Why I chose healthcare

We asked seven hospital and health system executives and CEOs the following question: What's one thing that really piqued your interest in healthcare? 

Responses were collected throughout the year for our monthly seven-question interview called Corner Office. Here is what executives had to say.

 

Eric Evans, President of Hospital Operations of Tenet Healthcare (Dallas)

"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."

 

Michael Dandorph, President of Rush University Medical Center (Chicago)

"There are a couple of things. As I was growing up, I had a very close relationship with all four of my grandparents. I spent a lot of time with them as they were in and out of hospitals and nursing homes. They suffered from heart disease, stroke, cancer and dementia during the aging process.

But my interest in healthcare grew the most when I was in college after I fell asleep at the wheel early one morning after driving through the night. I fractured my spine and suffered a collapsed lung and failing kidneys. I spent six weeks in Princeton Medical Center in New Jersey. The clinicians and staff not only cared for me, but they also cared for and bonded with my parents and family. It was a cathartic experience for us all. That probably piqued my interest in healthcare the most, demonstrating how impactful the entire care team impacts the lives of others. It also helped me gain a level of resiliency and perseverance."

 

Jena Hausmann, CEO of Children's Hospital Colorado (Aurora)

"My interest in healthcare started when my grandfather was dying of cancer and going through the system. I became very interested in end-of-life care processes, ethics and philosophies — or lack thereof. I was struck by how people nearing the ends of their lives were treated with such a lack of dignity and respect in the healthcare industry.

Today I carry that passion for how to improve the death and dying experience, and how to support people's dignity in that process."

 

Verdi DiSesa, MD, CEO of Temple University Hospital (Philadelphia)

"My uncle and great uncle were surgeons, and my family heritage inclined me toward medicine. Additionally, in college I helped a friend who had a sprained ankle. I knew how to wrap ankles from playing sports, but there was something about laying strong but gentle hands on someone to help them heal that appealed to me. That small incident was a big contributor of my interest in medicine, on top of my family in the background telling me this is a worthwhile thing to do.

From taking care of one patient at a time to running systems, I've been fortunate to leverage my knowledge and have the chance to affect so many people. I do miss treating patients. I stopped practicing about eight years ago because cardiac surgical patients require a doctor who has the ability to respond to them any time, day or night, and my administrative duties wouldn't allow that. But by helping to run a health system, I have the opportunity to make a positive contribution beyond a single patient at a time."

 

Michelle Conger, CSO of OSF Healthcare (Peoria, Ill.)

"I was always interested in doing something where I could connect with people. A long history with an ill relative — my brother — definitely helped shape my thinking and made me want to do something that would allow me to contribute to something bigger than myself.

I think most people who get into healthcare have that drive. And a lot of healthcare executives and providers have had some sort of experience, either with a relative or themselves, that connects them to the healthcare industry. It's nice to connect your personal and professional life in that way — it's what makes healthcare such a fulfilling line of work."

 

Lloyd Dean, CEO of Dignity Health (San Francisco)

"I lived in a community growing up where when people got sick, they either muscled through or didn't make it. When I was accepted into a school in a more affluent community, I was shocked at how much healthier my peers and their families were because they had regular checkups and access to care. I saw firsthand the perils of not having access to quality, affordable healthcare, and so I've made it my mission to do everything in my power to improve access in the communities Dignity Health serves."

 

Liz Concordia, CEO of UCHealth (Aurora, Colo.)

"My first experience in healthcare was when I was in high school and volunteered at Temple University Hospital's emergency room in Philadelphia. It was eye opening and showed me just how important healthcare was, and also how much opportunity there was to improve. There was a lot of waiting and down time between each event that occurred in the hospital. There wasn't as much effort around treating patients in the friendliest or most efficient manner. This is why I am passionate about UCHealth's focus on improving the experience for patients and their family members."

 

Kim Cripe, CEO of Children's Hospital Orange County (Orange, Calif.)

"When I entered college, I thought I wanted to be a physician. Science was my favorite subject in high school. While at college, I loved everything I studied — I was all over the map trying to figure out at the ripe old age of 18 what to do with the rest of my life. I pursued a biology and medicine track, but I was also interested in the business world. By the time I finished, I found I liked the intersection between medicine and business, so I hopped over to the hospital administration side. It was a combination of my natural interests and also the recognition that on the administrative side, you have the ability to impact entire healthcare systems. I wanted to impact public policy and do things on a broader level."

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