Advancing to the C-Suite: Diverse Healthcare Executives Share Lessons Learned

lradick March 6, 2018
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There is a well-documented gap in healthcare organizations today between the diversity of the C-suite and the diversity of the communities being served. Research suggests that closing this leadership gap results in improved healthcare outcomes for all communities.

ACHE’s Thomas C. Dolan Executive Diversity Program addresses that leadership gap by preparing successful mid- and senior-level careerists for advancement to the highest ranks of hospitals, health systems and other healthcare organizations.

Four healthcare leaders—three of whom are EDP alumni—will provide diverse students and early- and mid-careerists with practical information on ascending to C-suite positions at ACHE’s 2018 Congress on Healthcare Leadership during Seminar 88 (3.0 credit hours): “Career Pitfalls, Strategies and Successful Life Balance for Diverse Early- and Mid-Careerists Pursuing C-Suite Positions.”

As a preview to the seminar, ACHE’s Inside Congress asked the seminar faculty a few questions.

ACHE: What unique challenges might a diverse early- or mid-careerist face in advancing as a healthcare leader and planning their career?

Raul H. Zambrano, MD, FACHE

Raul H. Zambrano, MD, FACHE, CMO, Aurora Medical Center: Finding or developing a mentorship/sponsorship relationship that does not try to fit a square peg into a round hole is one of the greatest challenges diversity careerists face as they progress in their careers. Having a mentor who understands the unique challenges faced by diversity candidates and can help them come into their own is a process that usually occurs serendipitously and less frequently than it should through careful cultivation and actively managing up.

ACHE: What are some strategies for overcoming these challenges and finding successful life balance?

Sally A. Deitch, FACHE

Sally A. Deitch, FACHE, President/CEO, The Hospitals of Providence: Some simple strategies to create life balance is understanding the workflow within an organization. For example, knowing monthly deadlines, working in teams by using the skills of subordinates to complete tasks and clearly communicating your job requirements to your family.


ACHE: What is the status of diversity in the healthcare C-suite?

Lily Henson, MD, FACHE

Lily Henson, MD, FACHE, CMO, Piedmont Henry Hospital: We are slowly becoming more diverse in the healthcare C-suite, but we have a very long way to go. It takes more than one diverse executive to comfortably speak up about challenges. Otherwise, you can be labeled as being a one-issue person, which limits your effectiveness.

ACHE: Several of you are Thomas C. Dolan Executive Diversity Program scholars; how did this program contribute to your success in advancing as a healthcare leader?

Larry D. Chadwick, FACHE

Larry D. Chadwick, FACHE, Vice President, Hospital Operations, The Metro Health System: The Thomas C. Dolan Executive Diversity Program provided me with the necessary professional and leadership tools and skills that were needed to advance to the next level. After completing the program, I became board certified in healthcare management as an ACHE Fellow and moved into a new position as vice president of hospital operations.

The Thomas C. Dolan Executive Diversity Program is supported entirely by contributions to the Fund for Healthcare Leadership. Established in 2006 to bring innovation to the forefront of the healthcare management profession, the Fund now works to strengthen the field of healthcare leadership by providing scholarships to robust programs that inspire tomorrow’s leaders.

To learn more about the Fund for Healthcare Leadership, please visit

Category: Q&A
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