Featured News

Every day VCU Health Administration and College of Health Professions students, alumni, faculty and staff do extraordinary things. Read more about our latest achievements and Department news here.

Creating a pathway to leadership

Paula Song, Ph.D., will become the first woman of color to serve as interim dean for the VCU College of Health Professions in July. Paula Song joined VCU in 2020 and currently serves as the Richard M. Bracken Chair and professor of health administration in the College of Health Professions. 

Historic Encore Webinar in The National Association of Health Services Executives (NAHSE) and the VCU Department of Health Administration Series

At the beginning of 2023, NAHSE and the VCU Department of Health Administration announced a three-part webinar series offered in partnership to advance the department’s inclusive leadership education initiative. After receiving positive evaluations of the three-part webinar series from students, faculty, and early careerists across the nation, Lisa Mallory, PhD., chief executive officer of NAHSE and Stephan Davis, DNP, MHSA, FACHE, FAAN, executive director of inclusive leadership education for the Department of Health Administration, and the NAHSE education committee decided to offer an “encore” webinar tackling a topic that has never been addressed through the leading professional associations for healthcare leadership. 

Eyes on mission amid transition: Spring '23 Cardwell Comments

As the spring semester closes, we look toward coming transitions and positive changes that will lead our program and the College of Health Professions forward, writes Paula H. Song, the Richard M. Bracken Chair and Professor of Health Administration — and soon interim dean of the College. These changes come as VCU was ranked among the top health care management programs in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Read Dr. Song's full comments in the latest issue of Cardwell Comments.

VCU faculty leader begins term on national diversity and inclusivity committee

Stephan Davis, DNP, interim associate dean of diversity, equity and inclusion for the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Nursing and the College of Health Professions, recently began a two-year term on the American Academy of Nursing Diversity & Inclusivity Committee. The committee comprises AAN fellows appointed by the board to recommend strategies and goals for increasing diversity and inclusivity within the academy and its leadership bodies.

The National Association of Health Services Executives (NAHSE) and the VCU Department of Health Administration Partner to Advance Inclusive Leadership Education Initiative

In August of 2022, Lisa Mallory, PhD, chief executive officer of the National Association of Health Services Executives (NAHSE), and Stephan Davis, DNP, MHSA, FACHE, FAAN, executive director of Inclusive Leadership Education for Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Health Administration, had a breakfast meeting where an idea was born – a webinar series offered in partnership between their two institutions. As 2023 begins, their idea has come to fruition with the official announcement of a three-part webinar series focused on the advancement of Black leaders in healthcare.

Health Administration Faculty and Alumni Awards

Marilyn B. Tavenner, BSN, MHA, is the College of Health Professions’ 2022 VCU Alumni Star award recipient. The honor recognizes graduates in the fields of art, business, education, service, and healthcare who shine a spotlight on problems and craft solutions, says the VCU Office of Alumni Relations that oversees the award.

Class of 2022: Surviving childhood cancer inspired Jeff Renner to innovate pediatric health care

Renner started as an engineering major, but made the switch to health professions. Intrigued by the VCU College of Health Professions’ affiliation to Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, Renner enrolled in the health administration program. “It was a perfect fit. The health administration track has an emphasis on compassionate leadership and I found mentors to help me launch a career in pediatrics,” he said.

Michael Elliott named first COO of VCU Health System

After an extensive national search, Michael Elliott, Pharm.D., MSHA, FACHE, has been selected as the inaugural chief operations officer of VCU Health System, effective May 15. The new position is responsible for integrating the academic health system’s organizational strategic plan with its operations. Elliottt holds a doctorate in pharmacy and master’s degree in health administration from VCU.

NBC/MSNBC Journalist Lui to visit VCU College of Health Professions

Richard Lui, an anchor and journalist with NBC News and MSNBC, will visit the VCU College of Health Professions on April 7. The first-generation Chinese and Polynesian American will spend a day in Richmond and share his personal and professional journey while discussing the importance of investing in diverse communities in order to improve population health.

VCU Health Administration Leader inducted into National Academies of Practice (NAP) Nursing Academy

Stephan Davis, DNP, MHSA, FACHE, has been inducted as a distinguished scholar and fellow to the National Academies of Practice (NAP) Nursing Academy. The induction comes in advance of Davis’ presentation on nursing leadership and workforce development at the American College of Healthcare Executives Congress on Healthcare Leadership on March 28 in Chicago. Two nurse executives from Wellstar Health System will present alongside Davis.

Taking action to achieve an equitable and inclusive healthcare workforce

Whether educating future executives or clinicians, as healthcare professionals in academia, we have a responsibility to make sure tomorrow’s workforce is representative of the patients and communities they serve. 

Truly committing to diversity, equity, and inclusion takes intent, and hard work, to attract and retain students from underrepresented communities. And it means curating an academic culture where people feel they belong, have a voice, and the support they need to thrive.

One of the most compelling arguments for making DEI a priority in healthcare is to meet workforce challenges head-on. To address the shortage of nurses, physicians, and leaders requires uncovering talent from all corners of society, and we believe we can find great minds in communities that have largely been underrepresented in the healthcare field. 

More importantly, it’s evident that leaders and clinicians who share experiences and backgrounds with their patients play an essential role in reducing health disparities and improving the patient experience.  “Representation matters when it comes to making minority patients and community members feel seen and heard,” the authors of Leading While Black: Addressing Social Justice and Health Disparities write. I encourage you to read this 2021 report from the National Association of Health Services Executives (NAHSE) and The Chartis Group. It offers fresh recommendations on how healthcare organizations can move the social justice arc and put more Black and minority leaders into executive positions.

Industrywide, we should all recognize that there’s a long way to go.

Today, 5% of physicians are Black, and 5.8% are Hispanic (compared to about 14% and 19% of the total American population, respectively). The registered nurse workforce is 6.2% Black and 5.3% Hispanic. When it comes to faces in the C-suite, ACHE gives us a glimpse of its 47,000 members: 10.4% Black, 5.6% Hispanic, and 7.3 percent Asian.  

From a program standpoint, we have made progress to establish a more diverse faculty in the VCU Department of Health Administration. When it comes to the student body, however, our performance has been inconsistent. Across the history of our MHA, MSHA, and Ph.D. programs, Black graduates represent just 6 percent of total alumni. The good news is that many of our students have had the fortune of going on to build high-visibility, high-impact careers and blazed trails for others like them.

But we are going to do better. We have to do more to increase enrollment and development of people from communities that have been marginalized if VCU wants to impact their representation in the C-suite. 

To borrow a phrase from the American Association of Colleges & Universities related to our “active, intentional, and ongoing engagement with diversity,” we took an important step forward this year in hiring our first full-time Black faculty member, Dr. Stephan Davis. As an assistant professor, he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in health administration. But he also serves as Executive Director of Inclusive Leadership Education for our Department and is an assistant dean of DEI for the VCU College of Health Professions. (Read more about his “Black and Golden” national webinar below and register for it here).

Dr. Davis is also starting discussions around how to establish meaningful partnerships with historically Black colleges and universities, to potentially share faculty and create pathways for undergraduates with interest in health administration to join us in Richmond.

There is more coming. As a department and program, we are committed to developing diverse and inclusive healthcare leaders who reflect the voices and experiences of the communities they serve. DEI is a top priority for our team because a diverse and inclusive workforce is critical to effectively address the healthcare needs of all people.

A season of gratitude

A note from Paula H. Song, PhD, MHSA, MA | Richard M. Bracken Chair and Professor

Removing barriers to care at home and abroad in Haiti

Since graduating from the MHA program in 1984, Terrie Edwards has held leadership posts across various Virginia healthcare organizations. She began her leadership healthcare career with HCA Virginia (Henrico Doctors’ Hospital) and has experience in several non-profit health systems (Centra and Bon Secours), as well as independent hospitals. She planned and opened Bon Secours St. Francis Medical Center in Richmond, and has medical practice background as administrator for a large cardiothoracic surgery specialty group. 

An interview with The Barcliff Group CEO Sheronica Barcliff (VCU MSHA ‘13)

Just as every patient enters the medical system with their own history, health administrators bring their own unique background and skills to their chosen roles. This is particularly true in the case of Sheronica Barcliff (MSHA ‘13). As CEO and Founder of the Barcliff Group, an Atlanta-based consulting firm, Barcliff relies on her experience as an entrepreneur, speaker, community liaison, and healthcare quality and equity expert to evolve a patient-focused approach into person-centered care.

VCU 'probably the most impactful event in the evolution of my career'

Michael C. Zucker, FACHE (MHA ‘91), is the CEO and Co-founder of FetchMD, a San Antonio-based company providing on-demand telehealth care. When the pandemic altered FetchMD’s previous business model, Zucker and team made a quick change in how the company delivered care to customers. 

‘A wild ride full of adventure, heroism, joy, and challenges you will never anticipate’

Since graduating from the MHA program in 2000, Carrie Owen Plietz has made an indelible impact on the field of health administration. In November 2020, she was named President of the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals Northern California region, which provides care to more than 4.5 million members through 21 hospitals and more than 250 medical offices.

VCU Department of Health Administration announces new PhD program director

Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Health Administration has appointed Laura McClelland, PhD as the new director of the PhD Program in Health Services Organization and Research (HSOR).

As program director, McClelland will be responsible for recruitment efforts for both part-time and full-time doctoral students; overseeing the curriculum of the PhD program; mentoring and supervising degree progress for doctoral students; as well as interfacing with the program’s robust HSOR PhD alumni community.

“I am honored to take on the role for a program that has reliably produced so many outstanding PhDs that have gone on to lead distinguished careers,” said McClelland. “This is an incredible opportunity to build on the many programmatic successes of our previous director and faculty emeritus, Dr. Jan Clement.”

McClelland who has been a member of the Department of Health Administration and taught in the PhD program for 10 years, says that a top priority is to grow the program’s full-time enrollments. 

Two Faculty Appointments

The VCU College of Health Professions announced the appointment of two new faculty members who recently joined the Department of Health Administration.

Dean's Seed Funding Award

"Preconception Care and Pregnancy-related Morbidity and Infant Health Outcomes among Women with Disabilities using Virginia PRAMS Data"

Have a story about the College of Health Professions in action that you'd like to share? Contact us at mgburkett@vcu.edu or (804) 828-7247.