Lessons Learned in Four Decades in Healthcare Administration
On December 31, after 41 years in healthcare administration, I will be retiring from my position as Executive Associate Dean and CEO of Texas Tech Physicians. Deciding when to retire is a big decision, but it is also a great blessing in that one has the opportunity to retire. I am grateful for my circumstances. I like what Serena Williams said recently, that she is not retiring from tennis but that her life is evolving. So, I will join Serena and say that my life is evolving!
I will continue to teach business and leadership courses here at the School of Medicine, as well as in the School of Health Professions and at Rawls College of Business. I enjoy teaching and learning, which necessitates one staying current in the healthcare and business literature. Students test a teacher in terms of why do we do this, or why don’t we do such-and-such. Students bring their enthusiasm and zeal to learn to class, and serving them brings me much joy. I count it a privilege.
Some things that I have learned over four decades of healthcare administration that can be briefly touched on in the limited space of this article. Here we go!
- Service first and foremost to our patients. Patients are our raison d’etre or, in plain English—our purpose or reason for being in healthcare. It's why we do what we do. We’re here to serve them and help them achieve the measure of health that they’re capable of achieving. We must never forget that.
- A close second is that we’re here to serve each other—our fellow healthcare workers, regardless of “rank or position.” All positions are important! Healthcare, even with its technology, is about people. The people who work in clinics and hospitals, first responders, and—as was so clearly made visible during the pandemic—our public health colleagues.
- Here at the Health Sciences Center, we are honored to play a role in educating the next generation of healthcare providers. Another blessing!
- Be good stewards of that which we have to work with. I’ve never felt it appropriate to gouge our patients, even their insurance companies, financially. (Not a fan of insurance companies, but companies and individuals pay premiums, and they seem to be going up at an astonishing rate). I think we have a responsibility to serve everyone, regardless of their ability to pay. Furthermore, we need to be frugal in our spending.
- Finally, never forget where one came from—one’s roots. My dear late mother worked as a housekeeper in the small hospital right across the street from where I grew up as a boy. I have always been extremely proud that my mother was a housekeeper. I think the pandemic reinforced the importance of cleaning—having things ready, so we can deliver care in a safe environment.
I will be around until the end of the calendar year in my current role. Stop me in the hall or come by my office. I would enjoy the opportunity to visit. Thanks to all for being a great team, and for our travels together for 15 years!