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Donald Moore

Donald Moore

Class of 1992

What is your current role in health care?

“I am the Chief Executive Officer at Pueblo Community Health Center, a federally qualified health center in Pueblo, Colorado. We are the primary care home for 28,000 people in our community of 165,000.”

What stands out as a favorite memory during your time as an MHA student?

“The most vivid and frequent memories that come back are the fellowship and the friendships, and the strong connections one makes with classmates. It is not just your classmates, it’s also the faculty and staff and getting to know them, not only as your professors, but as people.

I have a soft spot in my heart for my advisor, Professor Vernon Weckwerth. He was there for the students: that’s what I remember most about him. Vern did all the things that professors do, but he always made students his first priority. When he took me under his wing, he connected me to my summer internship and the path I wanted to go down. 

Social events in general were fun: Super Bowl parties, Halloween parties, happy hour on Friday afternoons, just hanging out. The fellowship with my classmates was top-shelf and keeps coming to mind.”

How has the MHA Program helped prepare you for your career?

“The problem solving method provided the ability to collect, assess, and use data in the problem solving process, and are tools I continue to use. 

There was a constant expectation from the program, faculty, and alumni that you would become a  leader in the field, and you would express that leadership in a variety of ways. 

Another theme strongly related to the program being in the School of Public Health was serving the community and serving others. The training we received about how to generate a bottom line, or other business objectives, was taught to us as tools–not the goals of our profession. The goal was to serve the community and make the system more ethical and moral.”

I entered this field to be in service to others. Obviously, the program prepares you in very concrete ways: how to make presentations, problem-solve difficult issues, how to analyze a balance sheet, how to develop a business plan, how to assess information technology–all important things; but the preparation for leadership and service had the biggest impact on me.”

What challenges and opportunities will healthcare leaders encounter in the next 5-15 years? What skills will leaders need to be successful in light of these challenges and opportunities?

“The first challenge that comes to mind is workforce issues. I’m concerned about inadequate supply, not just doctors but support staff. We must attract people to the healthcare field who are driven by the desire and motivation to serve. We need to find ways to treat the workforce with greater levels of dignity and respect if we want them to be committed to our organizations and our mission.

I think another challenge is that much of our healthcare system is publicly financed. Medicare, Medicaid, Veterans Administration, and the federal government are accumulating a lot of debt. These programs get more and more expensive. What is the sustainability of the programs and how do we make them sustainable?

Another challenge is the growing complexity of the healthcare system and field. Healthcare boils down one person in a trusting relationship with another person taking care of them. It is a relationship-based service, but it exists in a hyper complex system. As administrators we strive to balance that sacred relationship within a complex system. 

The healthcare system must adapt to the aging baby boomer generation. So many people age into Medicare and other publicly financed programs and it is profound in terms of the workforce. As people age, they don’t necessarily need a multitude of tertiary specialty services, what they need are supportive services so they can age well.

Climate change is an opportunity. The healthcare industry has a poor track record with sustainability and renewable energy. We generate a lot of waste, and depend on fossil fuels and non-renewable energy sources. JAMA published a study that shows climate change is a major force in population health. The spread of disease increases as the planet warms, and frequent natural disasters create injury and trauma, both of which  increase demand on the health system. An industry-wide solution is essential.”

If you could give one piece of advice to a current student, what would it be?

“The healthcare field is a service profession. The magic moment, the ideal outcome in our field, is when a person in need has a trusting relationship with a caregiver.  It could be a clinician, it could be the security guard at the front door helping someone get into the building, or it could be an IT person helping someone connect to telehealth with their PCP. Do not lose sight of that. As healthcare becomes more complex and reliant on technology, and we look for ways to control costs, remember what people really want is a trusting relationship with their caregiver, and an organization that they can rely on to be their advocate. 

The other piece of advice: Take time to think about why you got into this field from a values standpoint. What are the values that motivate you? If your values don’t align with your career goals, you’re not going to be happy. Be  honest with yourself about the underlying motives of your career goals.”

Why is your class the best class ever?

“As I reflect back on Dr. Weckwerth’s statistics class, he told us that our class of roughly 30 students had the most students who earned A’s in the class than any class up until that point. Our class did lots of group study and collaboration, and we busted his curve. The Class of 1992 ushered in an ethic of collaboration.

The reason all classes are “the best class ever” are the relationships and the connections, what I call the “fellowship factor”. Relationships with classmates, faculty, and the alumni network make the Minnesota Way so valuable.”

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