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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.

Parrott Lecture series speaker offers rebuke of major U.S. health care players

Donald M. Berwick, M.D., M.P.P., did not mince words on the current state of U.S. health care.
"For the first time in history, overall life expectancy has fallen in this country. There's never been an era where I could have said that," said Berwick, a longstanding member of the Harvard Medical School faculty and former administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services appointed by President Barack Obama.

Stephan Davis Receives Professional Association’s Highest Service Award

Stephan Davis, D.N.P., M.H.S.A., F.A.C.H.E., F.A.A.N., has received the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) Exemplary Service Award, which is the highest service award bestowed by the College.
Davis serves as associate dean of inclusive excellence and belonging for the VCU College of Health Professions and the School of Nursing, and as executive director of inclusive leadership education and an assistant professor for the VCU Department of Health Administration.
“I am thrilled to congratulate Dr. Davis on his well-earned honor for service,” said Saleema Karim, Ph.D., interim chair and associate professor in the Department of Health Administration. “Service is a critical component of our tripartite mission as a leading academic institution, and I am proud that our faculty exemplify a commitment to service within VCU, throughout Virginia, and nationally.”
Over the course of Davis’ career, he has served in national and chapter leadership roles, and previously served as chair of the ACHE LGBTQ+ Healthcare Leaders Community. He is a prior Regent-at-Large, a role created to foster diversity in the governance of ACHE. In addition, he is on the national faculty of ACHE, teaches five of the ten knowledge areas for the ACHE Board of Governors Exam review course to help ACHE members prepare for the comprehensive fellow candidate assessment, and delivers presentations and educational sessions for the organization, both nationally and through local chapters. Finally, he has served as a mentor, executive coach, resume reviewer, and an advisor to fellow candidates.
At the upcoming ACHE 2024 Congress on Healthcare Leadership, Davis will deliver a presentation entitled “Practitioner to Professor: The Healthcare Executive’s Role as an Educator,” alongside two national faculty colleagues from the Association of University Programs in Health Administration’s Practitioner-Scholar Faculty Forum. This represents Davis’ seventh ACHE Congress presentation acceptance since 2019.
“I am so honored to receive ACHE’s highest service award,” said Davis. “Contributing to the professional development of students, early and mid-careerists, and seasoned executives, brings me so much joy. In particular, I am deeply committed to our work to advance ACHE’s goal to increase the diversity of fellows of the College and I am proud of the strides we have made in this area.”
Davis became a fellow of ACHE in 2014, which he describes as one of his most important professional milestones. He has served on ACHE’s national faculty for three years, helping to launch the virtual ACHE Board of Governor’s review course during the pandemic. The course now attracts hundreds of fellow candidates each year. Davis has received two prior national service awards from ACHE. He is also a prior recipient of the ACHE Executive Development program scholarship, and the North Texas chapter’s “Early Career Executive” (Under 40) Award. 
The VCU College of Health Professions is a nationally recognized leader in the education of health providers and leaders, and cultivates an interprofessional approach to training. The College offers curricula at the baccalaureate, master's, post-graduate and doctoral levels designed to prepare health care professionals for roles in a variety of clinical, teaching, and community health and wellness settings. For more, visit the VCU College of Health Professions website.
The VCU Department of Health Administration is a premier research department geared toward creating the most innovative, compassionate, and business-savvy leaders to reimagine healthcare. With access to the amenities of a large institution in a small and student-centric atmosphere, the Department of Health Administration teaches students the executive and technical skills needed to be well-rounded leaders.
The department's master's degree program, the residential Master of Health Administration and the online-hybrid Master of Science in Health Administration for experienced professionals, is rated in the top three among its peers in the country by U.S. News and World Report. Also offered is the highly regarded PhD program in Health Services Organization and Research. For more information, visit the Health Administration website.
The American College of Healthcare Executives is an international professional society of more than 48,000 healthcare executives who lead hospitals, healthcare systems and other healthcare organizations. ACHE’s mission is to advance our members and healthcare management excellence. ACHE offers its prestigious FACHE® credential, signifying board certification in healthcare management. ACHE’s established network of 77 chapters provides access to networking, education and career development at the local level. In addition, ACHE is known for its magazine, Healthcare Executive, and its career development and public policy programs. Through such efforts, ACHE works toward its vision of being the preeminent professional society for leaders dedicated to improving health. The Foundation of the American College of Healthcare Executives was established to further advance healthcare management excellence through education and research. The Foundation of ACHE is known for its educational programs— including the annual Congress on Healthcare Leadership, which draws more than 4,000 participants—and groundbreaking research. Its publishing division, Health Administration Press, is one of the largest publishers of books and journals on health services management including textbooks for college and university courses. For more information, visit www.ache.org.  

Salley, Carroll, White Earn Alumni Honors

By Sean Gorman

When he walked across the graduation stage in 2002 to accept his MHA, Verlon Salley had a plaque under his gown that said, “Thank you for allowing me to achieve all your dreams.”

For leader of Joint Commission, healthcare must lead the world on climate change

By Jeff Kelley

Health equity. Environmental sustainability. Learning. Performance integration and improvement.

Taken together, “H.E.L.P” is the agenda The Joint Commission enterprise accrediting organization is taking to address the myriad challenges facing healthcare organizations, its workforce, and patient care.

Hispanic Heritage Month Spotlight: Two VCU Health Administration students hone leadership skills, while sharing experiences through national mentorship program

Two Virginia Commonwealth University College of Health Professions students in the Master of Health Administration (MHA) program, were selected through a competitive process for a  mentorship and leadership development program designed for students and early careerists through the National Association of Latino Healthcare Executives (NALHE). NALHE is the premiere professional society for healthcare leaders who identify as Latino, Latina, Latinx, or Latine, as well as their allies.

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.

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.