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Sam Fox

Class of 2018

What is your current role in health care?

I am the Manager of Imaging Services at Kaiser Permanente in Northern California. I have operational oversight of all imaging services at a 200-bed hospital and two clinics in Northern California. On a day-to-day basis, I help support hospital throughput by partnering with the emergency department, ICU, and all outpatient departments to make sure patients get the imaging they need in a timely and effective manner.”

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

As a student, I was torn between going into a consulting role or taking the fellowship track. I had expressed my indecision to the MHA administration and they connected me to an advisor who was a principal at a national consulting firm. While working at the consulting firm for the summer, I was able to lean on my advisor and ask questions about her career. She was very helpful with filling in the gaps and steering my professional development in the right direction. She continues to serve as a resource. Throughout my time in the MHA program, I always felt like I had support from classmates or alumni.”

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

When I started the MHA program, one of my interests was rural health. For my second-year clerkship project the program paired me with a critical access hospital in northern Wisconsin. I learned so much from our project advisor who was the CEO of the hospital. My problem solving team got full access to every service line and dug deep into the problem we were trying to solve. We routinely made the drive to St. Croix Falls to gather the information/data we needed to move the project forward, and we always felt welcome. That was such a valuable three months of the program for me, as it provided the “real-world” experience that I hoped for going into the program. The operational knowledge I gained from this experience helped a lot in the early stages of my fellowship.”

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?

One of the biggest challenges facing healthcare, and I wrestle with it everyday, is the shortage of clinical staff and physicians. It is increasingly difficult to recruit and retain staff at the level needed to care for our patients. These shortages can also have a huge impact on employee wellness, which should be a top priority for any leader. 

Students need to get comfortable being uncomfortable. In my first year as a leader, I knew what I had learned in the classroom and I knew a decent amount about how operations work in an integrated system, but I was not prepared for all the uncertainty and volatility that comes with it. If you’re able to tolerate ambiguity, and keep a level head, you’ll set yourself up to make the right decisions.”

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

“It may be cliche and it’s what everybody says: take full advantage of the alumni network. In the two years that you are a student, pick up the phone and call as many people as you can. There is such a great opportunity to learn and everyone is willing to help and speak with you. The connections last a lifetime. Later in your career you will be happy that you invested in those relationships.”

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