From the lab to the C-suite: An HCA CEO's path to breaking down barriers

Cris Rivera, CEO of Rio Grande Regional Hospital in McAllen, Texas, has experience breaking down barriers.

In November 2012, Ms. Rivera became the first female Hispanic executive to assume the CEO position at the hospital, which is part of Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA Healthcare.  

"I really never thought about it other than when I did get here, I realized the history of the hospital, and I knew at that time that there had not been a female executive for this hospital, and then much less a Hispanic executive, but thank goodness for the foresight of my mentors, of my HCA leaders that helped me along the way to achieve this position, and then gave me the opportunity to serve for the community that I love so much," she told ABC affiliate KRGV in a Sept. 6 report.

Her path to the CEO role began in 1982 as a lab supervisor at Rio Grande Regional Hospital. In the 30 years between her roles at the facility, she also served in positions including CEO of Allen County Regional Hospital in Iola, Kan., and CEO of Savoy Medical Center in Mamou, La.

The advice she shared with KRGV for others looking to follow her path: "Listen to your heart and be able to pursue something that you really, really love. And then when you realize that love and passion, then start to work on the needs to fulfill that dream, to fulfill that vision. Get a good education. That's what's extremely important. It's the best differentiator that anyone can have, a good education."

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