Institute SEP helped me on my journey to become hospital CEO
February 22, 2013
Health care professionals are called to help others. But that calling doesn’t mean only helping patients.
As CEO of HCA’s Dominion Hospital in Falls Church, VA, I have the privilege of leading more than 200 employees in providing quality care. And one of my most important responsibilities is coaching and mentoring my hospital’s leaders and future leaders as we strive to create healthier communities.
One program that helps hospitals and health systems identify upand- coming diverse talent is the Institute for Diversity in Health Management’s (Institute) Summer Enrichment Program (SEP). (For more news from the Institute, see page 8). For nearly 20 years, the SEP has helped more than 700 minority graduate students pursuing advanced degrees in health care administration find internships at hospitals, medical centers and other health care organizations. Experiencedadministrators serve as preceptors and mentor students, providing exposure to real-life health care administration issues as well as advice that is crucial for early career success.
I can confidently say that the Institute’s SEP is valuable. While a University of Illinois undergraduate student in 1996, I became an SEP intern in Northwestern Medical Center’s community relations department. The internship exposed me to many different aspects of health care administration.
As part of my SEP experience, I had the opportunity to learn about and visit other health care organizations and meet their leaders. At one session, I met Raymond Grady, who was president and CEO of Evanston (IL) Hospital. He told me to contact him if I ever needed anything. Sure enough, when I was looking for a summer internship before I started graduate school, I reached out to him. He helped me find a job within his hospital’s community health department, where I worked on a number ofprojects, including doing research on mobile mammography.
After completing a graduate degree in health services administration from the University of Michigan, I worked as a health care consultant. I joined HCA in 2002 and held a number of leadership positions at HCA hospitals in Florida before I became CEO of Dominion Hospital in 2007.
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to assist one of my hospital’s interns when Dominion Hospital was considering whether to open an eating disorder program. I assigned the intern a project: I asked her to research everything about the program so we could decide whether to start one at our organization. In April 2010, Dominion Hospital opened a dedicated eating disorders unit that is helping adolescents and adults overcome anorexia and bulimia. I was very proud of our ability to bring a needed service to the community.
In that moment, I reflected back on my own internship. I realized the importance of the experience I provided the intern and also how my experience as an SEP student impacted my decision as a CEO to use an intern to conduct the program’s due diligence.
In addition to leading Dominion Hospital, this January I began a three-year term as a board member of the Institute, which is an AHA affiliate. I am excited to give back to an organization that has played such a vital role in my career development and advancement.
I believe our efforts to spur greater diversity in leadership positions will help ensure that hospitals reflect the communities they serve and provide valuable perspective for improvements. I would not be where I am today if I didn’t have the guidance, coaching and support of many mentors throughout my career – all the way back to when I was an SEP student.
As you think about ways you can help others, consider participating in the Institute’s SEP and mentoring a student. We can make an impact on the future of health care by investing in our future leaders.
Jackson is CEO of HCA’s Dominion Hospital in Falls Church, VA, and an Institute for Diversity in Health Management board member. For more information about the SEP, including how to participate as a host site for 2013, visit www.diversityconnection.org/SEP.