The intelligent, gracious, impressive women selected for the Class of 2018 are helping change healthcare. Wearing many hats – provider, payer, administrator, teacher, lawyer, consultant, advocate, leader, role model – they possess a willingness and fearlessness to look at old problems in new ways. Whether they serve as providers or in a capacity that impacts the larger healthcare industry, these women never lose sight of the fact that their decisions have a direct impact on patients. They embody the village it takes to deliver care in an extremely complex, highly regulated environment. Recognizing the immense energy required to be a change agent, these wise women have also made it a priority to strike a reasonable work/life balance. They embrace the regenerating power that comes from laughter and sharing time with friends and family. The 10 women being honored this year lead by example and truly model an innovative, passionate, thoughtful approach to improving the industry at every point along the continuum … and that’s certainly worth watching. — Susan Graham & Cindy Sanders, Publishers, Nashville Medical News
Presenting Sponsor: Gold Sponsors:
G Karen Cassidy, MD, MPH Chief Medical Officer, Mid-South Region UnitedHealthcare
rowing up in Northeastern Pennsylvania with parents who were both biochemists, it’s not surprising Karen Cassidy was exposed to science early and often. “My mom can make a science project out of any conversation,” she said with a laugh. By middle school, Cassidy was sure she wanted to be a physician … and by high school that her focus would be internal medicine and pediatrics. A strong student and athlete, she was recruited by several schools in the Northeast to play basketball. Her mother, a graduate of the University of Florida, suggested applying to her alma mater where Cassidy played three years for the women’s basketball team before being sidelined by a hip injury and desire to graduate on time to begin medical school. “It was an amazing opportunity to play in the SEC,” she said of the experience. She continued her education at the University of Florida College of Medicine followed by a master’s in public health from Harvard. Cassidy first arrived in Nashville to complete training at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. After a brief stint in private practice in Florida, she returned to Middle Tennessee to accept a faculty appointment at Vanderbilt. During her tenure at VUMC, she became the founding director of pediatric palliative care consult services and was also a team medical director for Alive Hospice. “I have always felt medicine was a relationship business,” she said of caring for families. “Doing hospice and palliative care work was a calling for me. Specifically, end-of-life care for children was a place I felt pulled to provide service.” While she loved her work, Cassidy recognized the need to take a break after seven years to recharge emotionally and spiritually. Accepting a position with UnitedHealthcare, she readily admits working for an insurance company wasn’t what she envisioned in medical school but was quick to note the work is both challenging and meaningful. “There are many issues in healthcare right now and working to improve quality and efficiency in our healthcare system is important work,” she said, adding she enjoys the population health focus. Cassidy continued, “At UHC, I have an opportunity to impact many patients and with the goal of helping all UHC patients in Tennessee live healthier lives.”
A Joanna Conley, MBA, FACHE Chief Executive Officer TriStar Southern Hills Medical Center
Women to Watch
childhood illness led Joanna Conley to decide on a healthcare career. When it came time for college, the California native moved across the country to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “I knew I wanted to be in healthcare, but I wasn’t certain what area I wanted to go into, and UNC offered every program I might consider,” she explained. By her sophomore year, she recognized healthcare administration was where she was meant to make a difference for patients. “I have had the opportunity to give back to my community, improve patient care, and grow services through my role as a hospital administrator,” Conley said. “This career has provided me a unique opportunity to help support the community in which I live, as well as be a part of the everchanging healthcare dynamic.” After graduation, Conley moved to Asheville, N.C., where she met one of her early mentors. “The first CEO I worked with, Bob Burgin at Mission Health, shared many life lessons that he had learned over his career. I had the opportunity to work with him as an administrative resident during his last year before retiring,” she said of having access to a lifetime of experience as she was launching her own career. After several years working with Mission Health in strategic planning, Conley moved to Nashville for graduate school at Vanderbilt where she earned her MBA with concentrations in healthcare, operations and finance. After graduation, she joined HCA’s chief operating officer development program and soon moved into leadership roles at two hospitals in Kissimmee, Fla. After starting as associate chief operating officer at Osceola Regional Medical Center, Conley accepted a position as chief operating officer of Poinciana Medical Center, which was still in the planning stages at the time. Within a year, she was named CEO of the new HCA facility. “We built a new hospital to serve a community that previously had no hospital services in the area,” she said. “It was a unique opportunity that very few hospital administrators have. It was challenging but exciting at the same time.” From that experience, Conley said she learned an
She continued, “Healthcare is complicated and getting to dig deep with providers to understand their individual issues and barriers is an experience that has enriched my understanding of the healthcare delivery system in our state.” That knowledge is critical as Tennessee works to address a variety of barriers to optimal health including obesity, inactivity and opioid misuse. “These issues cannot be solved by one person or one business entity and will require providers, facilities, local governments, professional societies and insurance carriers to work together to find solutions,” Cassidy said. UHC, she added, has a number of initiatives in place to foster lifestyle changes and to educate providers on pain management best practices mirroring CDC guidelines. Equally important, she added, is the collaborative work UHC is doing to ensure there are connections to behavioral health supports and access to treatment, particularly for those dealing with addiction. She is keenly aware strong support systems are critical for everyone … including providers. “Don’t put yourself last on the list,” she counsels. “Your physical and emotional health are important to your ability to take care of others – sleep, eat well, take time for friends, exercise, pet the dog … make sure your emotional bucket gets filled regularly.” For Cassidy, spending time outdoors and traveling with her children are two of her favorite ways to recharge. “My kids are teenagers, which makes more adventurous travel possible,” she said, adding they have some great family plans for summer. “My oldest is a junior in high school and looking at colleges … I’m trying to cherish this time when I still have both my kids at home.” Daughter Sara Anne, who has accompanied her mother on several mission trips to Nicaragua, is leaning towards pre-med as she prepares for college. Son Frederich is just finishing up his freshman year at Ravenwood where both he and his sister play rugby and are involved in a number of other clubs and sports. As she prepares to launch two teens into adulthood, Cassidy said her hope is that they will be strong, caring, difference makers in the world around them. It’s the same goal she has for herself as she works to optimize the delivery of care in Tennessee.
important lesson: “Don’t be afraid to take risks … but always have a plan.” Know the resources and tools that are available to support you, she continued, and don’t be afraid to access that support. “That’s where I learned the value of being part of a company like HCA,” she added. A little more than a year ago, Conley was presented with the opportunity to return to Nashville to take the helm at TriStar Southern Hills. With the area booming, the medical campus continues to grow and expand service lines. Recently, the hospital applied for a certificate of need to build a freestanding Emergency Department in Antioch to meet community needs. While the ever-changing healthcare landscape provides a challenge, it also makes the work exhilarating. “No two days are ever the same, and we adapt constantly. It is very exciting for me to be involved in such a unique industry, and I enjoy the rapidly changing environment,” she said. Her favorite part of the day, however, is interacting with patients and staff. “It gives me a sense of purpose in the work I do and helps support our team. I love rounding, especially on the weekends, when I can talk with staff about their days and help address any issues that arise.” Conley also loves the friendly, encouraging, familyoriented culture that is at the heart of Southern Hills. “We do great work, and we work hard … but it’s also important that we have time for our families and hobbies outside of work,” she said. “It’s important to me as a senior leader to model a good work/life balance,” she continued. For Conley, being outdoors provides a counterbalance to hectic workdays. “Since I moved to Nashville last year with my family, we’ve been exploring the Warner Parks and Radnor Lake. We look forward to finding new trails in Tennessee,” she said of a favorite pastime she shares with her husband and young son. With her energy refueled, Conley is once again ready to tackle the daily challenges of healthcare administration. “I would like to continue to grow services, increase access to care for patients and continue to improve quality,” she said of her goals. “TriStar Southern Hills is a great hospital, and I can only hope to add to that legacy,” she concluded. nashvillemedicalnews
S Yvette Doran, MBA, FACMPE President & CEO Saint Thomas Medical Partners/Ascension Medical Group - TN
ome people know they want to be in healthcare from the time they are very young. For others, the profession comes as a fortuitous disruption while they are busy making other plans. “I fell into healthcare by accident over 20 years ago and had absolutely no idea it would turn into a career,” said Yvette Doran. “I entered healthcare at the front desk of a busy primary care physician group, where I intended for it to be a shortterm stop. One thing led to another, and I organically learned and grew through every position in the group,” she recalled. Doran added with a smile, “Other than being a clinician, I’ve worked every position. I really cut my teeth on the frontlines and got a great education. I just fell in love with the business of healthcare.” The Tri-Cities native moved to Nashville in 2007 with Community Health Systems and joined Saint Thomas/ Ascension in 2015 as chief operating officer for Saint Thomas Medical Partners before moving into the chief executive role at the beginning of 2018. Doran is quick to note the experiences gained and lessons learned early in her career inform her leadership and decisions to this day. Her passion, she continued, is to be “a difference maker versus just being a decision maker … approaching each decision with an intentionality to ensure we remain true to our culture of who we say we are and to live by our own professed standards.” She added the people who collaborate to find solutions – patients, physicians, practitioners, colleagues and external partners – are her favorite part of working in healthcare. “It’s ultimately the relationships that drive outcomes,” she noted. On the flip side, Doran said one of the biggest challenges is trying to manage through constant change and remain nimble enough to react in the face of heavy regulation. She credits getting involved with her local Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) chapter years ago with helping her navigate the ever-changing healthcare landscape. Doran has taken on increasing leadership roles within the organization including being a past president of the Tennessee MGMA and former chair
of the Southern Section. Currently, she is wrapping up her term as chair of the national MGMA-ACMPE Board of Directors and entering her fifth year on the association’s governing body. Doran said her willingness to work hard, play hard, enjoy life and embrace new challenges comes from the example set by her parents and grandparents. “One of the greatest pieces of advice I ever received was at a time when I was way too young to understand or appreciate it,” she recalled. “When I was about five years old, my greatgrandmother said to me, ‘get rid of your what-ifs, honey.’ What I discovered and have come to appreciate over the years is that was her way of preparing me to always try my hardest, do my best, to not be afraid and to not walk away from anything with regrets.” She continued, “Given that foundation, I was willing to take risks and try new things and be a continual learner … all of which prepared me to be ready as opportunities presented themselves throughout my career.” Continual learning is embedded in the culture at Ascension. Doran said it’s critical to be able to learn from all experiences and cascade that knowledge across the entire system. Two years ago, she added to her lifelong learner credentials by completing her master’s degree. “I decided that to be an example, I should set the example,” she explained of returning to school. Another lesson learned over the years is that to effectively care for others, you have to also care for yourself. For Doran, anything creative or that takes her outdoors with husband Dwayne Novak helps refuel her energy. “Whether it’s home improvement projects, building homes with Habitat for Humanity, gardening, floral arranging, painting, hiking, biking, scuba diving, or travel … these are my escapes and where I find opportunity to rejuvenate.” The reality, she noted, is it takes a lot of energy to live and work in a world of perpetual change where decisions have a very real impact on individuals who are often sick and scared. “Be dedicated and determined to make a difference for your patients and your physicians,” she counseled. “Don’t be deterred by the difficulties you will encounter.”
Congratulations to Katie Tarr and Nashville’s Women to Watch
Breakfast Honoring the Class of 2018 Tuesday, June 12th, 7:30-9 am Noah Liff Opera Center
INDIVIDUAL TICKET: $50
Katie is a Senior Manager in the LBMC Business Valuation and Litigation Support Services practice. Katie specializes in Compensation Valuation (CV) services, determining Fair Market Value of physician compensation arrangements.
TABLE OF 10 $450 Presenting Sponsor:
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Katie Tarr, Senior Manager Healthcare Valuation Services Nashville | Knoxville | Chattanooga
Women to Watch
J Jana Dreyzehner, MD Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist Starfish Health, PLLC
ana Dreyzehner is unique. Quite literally, she is one in about 81 million. “I specialize in special populations,” she noted. “As far as child psychiatrists who sign, I think there are four of us left in the country.” Leaning toward medicine throughout her youth, Dreyzehner’s experiences in high school learning to sign and working with deaf children and adults with autism led to her specialty. As president of a service club at her Illinois high school, Dreyzehner was asked if she would learn to sign by six deaf students who wanted to participate. She and one of the girls, who had both lost siblings in car accidents, became especially close. “Her encouragement and teaching of not only sign language, but also deaf culture and firsthand experience of healthcare access inequities, influenced my career path greatly,” Dreyzehner said. After graduating from the University of Illinois, ChampagneUrbana with a degree in psychology, Dreyzehner relocated to the university’s Chicago campus for medical school. While in school, she worked at a group home for developmentally disabled deaf adults. It was her routine with one young man to give him two quarters to put in the soda machine. Checking on him in the hospital, he immediately began asking for his soda. “He was misinterpreted as being threatening and aggressive as if he were pounding his fist into his hand in a threatening gesture – the sign for soda pop ends with the thumb side of a fist hitting against the other open palm,” she explained. “He was placed in four-point restraints where he couldn’t communicate with sign and was heavily sedated.” Dreyzehner said she vividly remembered the feeling of helplessness when she was called back to the hospital and found out what had happened. “I decided at that time that I wanted to be able to prevent that kind of misunderstanding and unnecessary suffering.” A big believer in self-determination and supported decision-making, Dreyzehner is aware of the unique communication challenges many of her clients face. She also recognizes the difficulty in balancing an individual’s right to privacy with the need to share health information but believes better coordination is critical. “Many people are doing great work in their own shop
Claire Cowart Haltom, JD Shareholder Baker|Ober Health Law a Baker Donelson Practice
Women to Watch
he daughter of a prominent healthcare attorney, Claire Cowart Haltom grew up with a working knowledge of the industry, but it was a personal experience that sparked her desire to practice at the intersection of law and medicine. As a freshman at Vanderbilt University, Haltom underwent genetic testing during a surgical procedure. “It was a perfectly reasonable clinical decision to run the test, and the results would help my doctors provide me better care,” she recalled. “But what I realized in the following days as I waited for the test results was that a positive genetic test could give health insurers a reason to deny me health coverage for the rest of my life.” Healthcare technology was developing so rapidly that the law had struggled to keep pace. “Thankfully, my genetic test proved negative, but the experience opened my eyes to the complex interplay between healthcare and law and the important role lawyers can play when they are fluent in both areas,” she continued. To better understand policymaking, Haltom worked on Capitol Hill after graduation. “Public policy can be a powerful and pragmatic solution if you understand how the system works,” she pointed out. She also learned it can require a lot of patience. From the time she underwent testing, it would take eight years before Congress passed the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act to ensure genetic information couldn’t be used against an individual in employment and insurance decisions. Following her stint in D.C., Haltom earned her law degree from the University of Mississippi School of Law where she was founder and co-president of the Ole Miss Student Health Law Association. She continues to call on that early leadership training as she serves on multiple professional and community boards. Haltom, who is winding down her term as chairman of the Leadership Health Care Board of Directors, also sits on the boards of the Nashville Health Care Council and Faith Family Medical Center. She just completed a three-year term chairing a practice group for the American Health Lawyers Association and is on the leadership team for Baker Donelson’s Women’s Initiative. Haltom relishes finding creative solutions to confounding healthcare problems so her clients can stay focused on their
or silo, but it is not the norm for people to bridge those silos with effective communication because it is not adequately incentivized or rewarded … and in some cases, it’s prohibited,” she said. However, Dreyzehner continued, being able to connect the pieces through a specialized medical home for individual’s with intellectual and developmental disabilities could better alert the spectrum of providers to behavioral triggers or physical issues in a population that has a hard time articulating needs. “I envision creating a care coordination system that will allow a person to maintain their relationships with service providers and have information and communication shared between providers as they move through different levels of services, as needed,” she explained. Dreyzehner added she would like to see such a system include a comprehensive assessment to build an individual care plan, a service intensity index and outcomes measures to guide treatment, and the use of peer support specialists. Dreyzehner was a proponent of telehealth before it was widely used. With patient need far exceeding provider supply, the technology has allowed her to serve a much broader geographic region from her Nashville base. Besides, the premise of being in two places at once is what allowed Dreyzehner to finish her medical degree. She met her future husband, Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner, the day before medical school started at a student mixer, and the couple wed before her final year. “I moved to Virginia before I graduated med school to be with my husband,” she said, adding his military service precipitated the move. She was able to arrange all of her rotations in the D.C. area and gave birth to the couple’s first son. “I didn’t step foot on my campus my whole last year of training until I went back with my son to graduate,” she recalled with a laugh. Today, the Dreyzehner’s two sons – John and Jason – are grown with John recently deciding on a career change as he prepares for medical school at Johns Hopkins, and Jason living and working in Atlanta with his new bride. Whether with family, friends, or clients, Dreyzehner finds joy in reaching out and connecting. “I love learning about other people’s lives and joining them to help make their life better … and in doing so, my life is better, too.”
mission of patient care. “Our clients appreciate that we not only understand the law of healthcare, but we understand the business of healthcare and can design transaction and policy solutions that achieve their goals,” she said. To get to that point, however, requires asking lots of questions to thoroughly vet an issue. “You’ll be amazed at how your advice changes when you hear ‘the rest of the story,’” she pointed out. Haltom’s outgoing personality makes her a natural at connecting people. “Some people have even joked that this is my side gig,” she said with a laugh, “but nothing gives me greater personal satisfaction than helping people find jobs, helping introduce people to non-profit causes, or connecting people with resources when they are in need.” She is also invested in growing Nashville’s renowned healthcare industry by ensuring the next generation of leaders has the tools needed to meet new challenges. “I am blown away by the talented, passionate individuals I have met through Leadership Health Care.” When it comes to her penchant for focusing on others, Haltom noted she had a pretty good teacher in her father, Dick Cowart. “Many know him as one of the nation’s leading healthcare attorneys – which he is – but he is also a model of servant leadership,” she said. “He has taught me to listen, really listen, to people and to always be thinking of ways that you can help others. His quiet commitment to putting other people first has made a profound impact on how I think about leadership and helping others.” Her husband, James Haltom, who is a partner at Nelson Mullins and a major in the Tennessee National Guard, mirrors those same types of qualities. She laughingly noted the two met in “the most nerdish way” in the law library at Ole Miss. Active community volunteers, the couple is particularly drawn to issues impacting veterans. “My husband and three of my brothers-in-law are all combat veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan, so this is a personal cause for us,” she noted. Whether it’s preparing the next generation of healthcare decision-makers or caring for the underserved, Haltom said Nashville is home to incredible organizations working to improve people’s lives. “I can’t think of a better way to use my legal training and healthcare knowledge than to help organizations improve the lives of others,” she concluded. nashvillemedicalnews
Veronica Thierry Mallett, MD, MMM Senior Vice President for Health Affairs & Dean Meharry Medical College School of Medicine
urgeon, researcher, author, educator, trailblazer – when Veronica Mallett set her sights on being a physician at a young age, it’s doubtful she envisioned the path her career would take and the multiple roles she would fill. “I was first inspired to become a physician by my interaction with my pediatrician, Dr. Sarah S. Scotten,” she recalled. “She was the first female graduate from Wayne State University Medical School in Detroit. She was compassionate, professional, caring, and strong, and I wanted very much to be like her.“ An outstanding student with an aptitude for science, Mallet fell in love with Barnard College at Columbia University after a visit. Although her father wanted her to go to school closer to home, Mallett ultimately convinced him to let her head to New York. She did return home for medical school at Michigan State, however, before later earning a master’s in medical management from Carnegie Mellon. Internationally recognized for her work in pelvic medicine and reconstruction, Mallett loves making a difference in other women’s lives. “As a specialist in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive pelvic surgery, I have been able to transform women from being depressed and lacking confidence because they suffer with the unspeakable ill of incontinence or prolapse of their female organs and … through reconstructive pelvic surgery … transform them into active, confident, selfassured members of their family and their community.” To combine patient care with her other loves of teaching and research, Mallett chose to pursue a career in academic medicine. “This gave me an opportunity to form and mold the next generation of doctors and to train them to not only be skilled practitioners but to be empathetic, caring, holistic healers,” she noted, adding it also allowed her to engage in research that might benefit her patients. As she aspired to take on greater leadership roles, Mallett said she faced a number of challenges from finding a healthy work/life balance to helping break down gender barriers. Serving as a department chair at the University of Tennessee in Memphis and then at Texas Tech Health Science Center in El Paso prior to coming to Meharry, Mallett joined the small group of only 15 percent of Obstetrics and Gynecology Department
G Mandi Ryan, MSN, RN Director, Healthcare Innovation Centerstone
rowing up in Texarkana, Mandi Ryan’s childhood dream was to work in healthcare. The first in her family to go to college, she earned an undergraduate degree in biology from Ouachita Baptist University followed by a registered nursing diploma from the Baptist School of Nursing in Little Rock. Her assumption throughout high school and college was that she would focus on physical health. And indeed, she spent the first seven years of her career in nursing units primarily focused on cardiovascular and pulmonary patients before a new job led to a lifelong calling. Having moved to Clarksville in 2007, Ryan took a position as a night shift nurse supervisor with Correct Care Solutions where she developed and managed quality improvement, safety and infection control programs at the Montgomery County Jail. “Working in corrections was my first experience working with individuals with mental illness … and my passion for integrated health began,” she explained. “It really emphasized to me how a lot of individuals didn’t have access to the quality care they needed,” Ryan continued. “A lot of arrests could have been avoided if those needs were met.” She saw firsthand how patients who weren’t on their behavioral medications or who had addiction issues and few resources were at heightened risk to spiral downward both physically and mentally. Ryan credits Melinda Stephens, RN, who was an administrator with Correct Care, with helping foster her personal development as an administrator alongside her growing interest in integrated care. “Her leadership skills and values inspired me to continue to grow and pursue higher education,” noted Ryan, who earned her MSN from Walden University in 2015. About the time Ryan began working on her master’s with a focus in administration, she made the move to Nashville and further honed her clinical skills in behavioral health by accepting a position at TriStar Centennial’s Parthenon Pavilion as a psychiatric charge nurse in the Intensive Transitional Program before making the move to Centerstone, one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit providers of communitybased behavioral health, in 2014. “I love that in nursing I have
heads to be female. “Now as a dean of an academic health science center of medicine, I joined the only 16 percent of women who are deans of allopathic medical schools, and I am one of three African-American female deans.” In addition to doing her part to tackle disparities in leadership, Mallett has also focused her efforts on health inequities and preparing a workforce to meet the needs of a diverse nation, including calling for increased attention on public education and social determinants of health. Improving educational opportunities, she said, is a key factor in leveling the playing field and optimizing health. “My passion truly is for the mission of Meharry Medical College and our motto ‘Worship of God Through Service to Mankind,’” Mallett continued. “I have always served underserved communities, and I have always understood that in doing so I am doing God’s work … and in training others to be engaged in that work and making sure they are excellent in doing it, I feel that I am making a difference.” She advises students to always remember what inspired them to enter medicine in the first place. Focusing on that motivation, she said, “will keep you honest, help you maintain your integrity, and keep you from losing sight of the patient and your humanity.” It’s equally important to remember what enriches your life outside the workplace. “My husband and I are very proud of the blended family we have built, the closeness we are able to achieve, and the effort we all make to get together, stay together and support each other,” Mallett said of the six children between she and husband Kevin Brisco. Of all the titles she holds, she said the best is that of ‘Gigi’ to her sevenyear-old granddaughter. “She wants to be a scientist,” Mallet added proudly. Friendships also feed her soul. A double black diamond skier, Mallett hits the slopes each year with four other female surgeons. “I was their mentor, and then I became their friend,” she said of her younger colleagues. “I would like very much to beat them down the hill in the next five years before it is a total impossibility,” she added with a laugh. Considering the many mountains she has conquered throughout her career, what’s one more?
had the opportunity to pursue a wide variety of specialties from open heart surgery and pediatrics to corrections and behavioral health. Each one has expanded my knowledge and experiences to further develop my craft,” she stated. Deploying a full range of skills to find innovative solutions to expand care is desperately needed as Ryan said far too many individuals with mental illness still face barriers to accessing needed services. “I am very passionate about individuals with mental illness receiving quality integrated and preventative care that can reduce their mortality rate,” she said. “When their physical health is better, their behavioral health improves … and when their behavioral health is better, the physical health improves. You have to look at the whole person. That helps us reduce unnecessary hospitalizations, unnecessary ER visits, reduce cost and improve quality of life.” As administrative leader at Centerstone for Health Link – a state program to coordinate services for TennCare members with the highest behavioral health needs – Ryan has helped establish a health home for thousands of patients in Centerstone’s 21 outpatient clinics in Tennessee. She also leads several organizational initiatives to foster greater coordination with primary care and is project director for two Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) Primary and Behavioral Health Care Integration (PBHCI) grants. A believer in practicing what she preaches, Ryan makes sure she integrates physical and mental well being into her own life by spending as much time as possible with her “wonderful husband and three awesome kids.” Between she and Christopher, a computer consultant, the couple has three children – Sophie, Madelyn and Graham – ranging in age from eight to 13. In addition to staying busy with the kids’ activities, Ryan said the whole family loves a good game night. “We try to have that at least once a week,” she said with a laugh. Recharging with family and friends is critical, as Ryan knows there is much more work to be done in improving access, quality and outcomes for those with serious mental illness while reducing costs. “There has been improvement, but there is still more work to be done. Healthcare is always changing … you must be willing to change and transform to meet the needs of the agency and patients,” she concluded. Women to Watch
Katie Tarr, CHFP Senior Manager, Healthcare Valuation Services LBMC
atie Tarr has spent her entire career in healthcare. She started working as a financial analyst with a health system in Columbus, Ohio, right out of college. She continued there until she moved to Nashville and began working at LBMC. “I got into healthcare because I was offered a good job with a great company. I have stayed in healthcare because in each role and at each company, I have had an opportunity to have a meaningful impact,” she explained. Tarr specializes in healthcare valuation. With a focus on physician compensation valuation, she helps operators nationwide recruit and retain physicians to provide clinical, administrative, call coverage and other professional services at compensation levels that are compliant and align with their mission, goals and financial objectives. “LBMC has a presence in 47 states,” she noted. “I talk to clients across the country, every day.” She believes a depth and breadth of expertise is increasingly critical considering healthcare’s complexity and rapid change. “Once you find your niche, it is important to step back and have an understanding of all aspects of your industry from the front line of patient care to the back end information security,” she said. “Understanding the big picture will allow you to find synergies and be better able to solve problems, as well as identify best practices and provide value to your company and clients.” Tarr continued, “One of the values of working at LBMC is that just down the hall are other national healthcare experts who specialize in other fields within the industry. I love that I get the opportunity to learn from them.” When asked how she would define success, Tarr said, “For me, I strive to partner with clients and staff so they can both flourish in achieving their growth goals.” For her clients, that means solving problems quickly and efficiently so they can devote more time to serving patients. For her team, it means providing meaningful development opportunities. “I am passionate about mentoring and coaching our employees to be future leaders,” she stated. Tarr feels strongly that it’s important for both men and women to champion female leadership. She credits a number
Robin Williams, MD Breast Surgeon Saint Thomas Medical Partners – Breast Surgery Chair Medical Foundation of Nashville
Women to Watch
dmiring her pediatrician as a little girl, Robin Williams decided to follow in his footsteps. “When I went to medical school, it was with the intention of becoming a pediatrician,” she recalled. “As I went through the clinical rotations, I discovered that surgery was what excited me the most.” That change of course has been a blessing to the many patients who have benefitted from Williams’ clinical judgment and steady hand to guide them through a frightening diagnosis and treatment. Williams, who grew up in Maryland and Pennsylvania, attended Johns Hopkins for undergrad followed by medical school at the University of Maryland and a general surgery residency at Howard University Hospital. In addition to her parents, Nathaniel and Mary, Williams credits the surgeons with whom she trained at Howard as setting the tone for her success. “The experience of being surrounded by surgeons who looked like me was sustaining in the belief of what could be achieved,” she said. “What was probably even more unique at the time was that Howard had quite a few women who were in the general surgery training program. When I started, one of the chief residents was female,” she continued. “There was a total sense of normalcy about women being in surgery.” An ‘accidental’ Nashvillian, Williams meant to return to Pennsylvania after training. “One of the residents in radiology at Howard was from Nashville and said Meharry was recruiting surgeons. I came down for an interview, spent the whole day, and the dean offered me a job,” she recalled. “I came to Nashville, and I haven’t left,” she added of her nearly 24 years in practice in Middle Tennessee. After five and a half years on faculty at Meharry, Williams moved into full-time clinical practice with the last seven years dedicated to management of diseases of the breast. “What I love most about my field is helping to guide women through their journey after a diagnosis of breast cancer, reassuring them that they will get through this period,” she said. Williams noted the time right after diagnosis is the most challenging for patients. “We are usually in a holding pattern because we are awaiting results of biomarkers or other studies before we make a final disposition. It is a frustrating time for the patient,” she pointed out. “This is where
of role models, including her father and the director over the department in which she started her career, with investing in her professional and personal development. She also welcomes the chance to pay it forward by helping others. She cites the example set by her colleagues and past mentors as a reason she accepted a role on the company’s Women’s Initiative Network steering committee. “When I joined my department at LBMC five years ago, I was the only woman,” she said. “Today, our team has grown significantly, and nearly 40 percent of team members are women.” Another great passion is working with the non-profit organization Nurses for Newborns of Tennessee, which has a mission to prevent infant mortality, child abuse and neglect. Tarr has served on the advisory board for three years and is currently the board president. “It’s the only organization in Nashville where registered nurses make home visits to infants and new mothers,” Tarr noted, adding the organization offers a range of services from education on safe sleep and counseling to introducing families to other area resources in an effort to “save babies and strengthen families.” While Tarr’s profession plays to the strength of her analytical mind, she also possesses an artistic and adventurous soul. Although both she and husband Eric grew up in Ohio, the couple jumped at the opportunity to move to Nashville when Eric was offered a faculty position at Belmont University’s Curb College of Music Business. She has made the most of living in Music City attending local events and concerts. She has even been an extra on several episodes of the television show, “Nashville.” The couple is also very invested in university life and the students both she and Eric mentor. Tarr is quick to say she learns as much from the students as they do from her. “Their passion for others and joy is infectious. They also try to help me stay ‘cool’ by keeping me up with the latest trends and music,” Tarr added with a rueful grin. Living in the 12S area, Tarr said she and Eric enjoy strolling through Sevier Park, going for a run down Belmont Boulevard, or having dinner in the trendy area. Favorite restaurant? “Whichever one doesn’t have a line that night,” she replied with a laugh.
communication is key in educating the patient regarding the process involved in making management decisions that will provide optimal care.” She continued, “As a physician in general, a challenging aspect is when a patient presents who is uninsured or underinsured. Beyond the care of the physician, patients frequently require coordinated hospital, laboratory and other specialty services.” Enter Project Access Nashville – a program under the leadership of the Nashville Academy of Medicine coordinated through the Medical Foundation of Nashville, which Williams chairs. “Nashville is blessed as a city to have Project Access Nashville, the vehicle through which over $39 million dollars of healthcare has been provided to those in need for over 10plus years,” she said. In addition to dispensing much needed specialty care, Williams said the Foundation’s mission is all about education with programming for physicians and physicians-in-training, along with educating the broader community about the link between lifestyle modifications and improved outcomes. “We are hoping to promote a healthier Nashville,” Williams explained. When she isn’t seeing patients or volunteering her services, Williams enjoys book club and is learning to play the guitar. “I’ve been taking guitar lessons for a few years … I should be better,” she said with a laugh. Her greatest passion, though, is spending time with family, including the newest addition, nephew Asa. “He is seven months old and just a cutie!” she said. “Every opportunity I have to go home to Maryland, I take. It is an exciting time in our family. We have a newborn, and my niece, Uri, is about to go off to college. Then there is my seven-year-old nephew, Elijah, in the middle who is the entertainer,” Williams proudly shared. As for the future, she hopes to see plenty more smiles on the faces of both family and patients. After taking the journey with patients through a diagnosis of breast cancer and difficult treatment plans, Williams relishes the smiles of victory and true joy that comes with making it to the other side. “I feel privileged when I can be a part of that process,” she stated. nashvillemedicalnews
bright legal mind, insatiable curiosity, empathetic nature, and true sense of purpose are a powerful combination. For Kinika Young, they are the driving force behind her desire to ensure all children have access to quality care. A native of Montgomery, Ala., Young’s desire to be a lawyer led her to Florida A&M University for a degree in political science followed by law school at Tulane. Attending a job fair in Atlanta during her second year, she met with a team from Bass, Berry & Sims, PLC, and said she was lucky enough to get an interview that led to a clerkship. Returning to school, she recalled, “Hurricane Katrina happened the first week of classes my third year.” Not only did the hiring partner at Bass call to check on her and offer a post-grad job, he helped arrange for her to attend Vanderbilt that fall to continue her studies. Young finished at Tulane in the spring before heading back to Nashville to begin her career at the prestigious law firm where she worked for more than a decade. “My practice involved representing healthcare providers in medical malpractice lawsuits and then evolved into representing hospitals in managed care disputes,” she noted. While she enjoyed the challenge of her work and knew it made a difference in the healthcare ecosystem, Young began to recognize a growing desire to have a more direct impact. A trip to Cuba in 2013 as part of a delegation from the American Health Lawyers Association sparked her interest in health policy. “It was fascinating to learn how a country with very limited resources had prioritized healthcare and gained a reputation for training some of the best doctors in the world, made advancements in preventative care, and achieved some groundbreaking healthcare innovations,” she said. After becoming acquainted with the Tennessee Justice Center later that year, Young handled several pro bono cases for the organization and became a financial supporter of the nonprofit. When the opportunity later arose to work with TJC full time, Young happily accepted the new challenge. “After seeing all the turmoil and civil unrest in 2016, I felt like I needed to devote more time to working on social justice issues and making a difference in people’s lives,” she said. “I
Kinika Young, JD Director, Children’s Health Tennessee Justice Center
was offered a position that focused on healthcare policy and advocacy as it pertains to children’s health. I got involved in this area because protecting and improving programs that benefit children’s health is one of the most important responsibilities we have to ensure the overall health of our nation.” With Congress reauthorizing the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for 10 years, Young said it’s critical to ensure those who are eligible get enrolled. The new “Insure Our Kids” campaign, which was launched in conjunction with prominent partners including HCA and Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, looks to provide awareness of Tennessee programs and eligibility requirements and to assist in enrolling children and pregnant women in TennCare and CoverKids. She credits TJC Executive Director and Co-founder Michele Johnson and Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth Director Linda O’Neal with serving as strong role models as she enters this phase of her career. “They are both forces of nature who’ve accomplished so much and helped so many people throughout their careers. Since I’m new to the advocacy field, I’m learning from people like Michele and Linda about how to move people and affect systemic change,” Young said. Her enthusiasm as a lifelong learner also extends to other countries and cultures. An avid traveler, Young had never stepped on a plane until she boarded a flight to Japan to be a counselor with Camp Adventure while in college. She returned the next summer as a counselor in Italy and later visited several countries in Europe as part of Tulane’s International Arbitration Team. She said friends frequently invite her to join them on their adventures. “Since I have ‘fear of missing out,’ I usually accept every invitation,” she said with a laugh. Next up are South America and Antarctica … the only two continents she has yet to visit. Whether seeking out travel adventure or forging a new career path, Young is a big believer in blazing your own trail. She encourages creative thinkers and innovators to focus their talents on healthcare. After all, she noted, “We’ll never see the change that is needed to make healthcare affordable and accessible to everyone if we play it safe and do things the same way they’ve always been done.”
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