Alumni Profile: Kathryn Zajac, BS ’05, MHSA ’08

What degree did you receive from GW's SPHHS? What was your concentration?

I received my B.S. in Exercise Science with a concentration in Health and Fitness and a Master of Health Services Administration.

Please tell us about your current position. Can you describe a typical day?

In my current role, I work with healthcare leaders across the U.S. and help them to analyze their physician practice performance data to streamline performance and improve profitability for hospital-employed physician groups. I manage a pool of over 30 members of the Crimson Practice Management program as well as other Dedicated Advisors that serve these members.

A typical day in my current role consists of phone calls and meetings with executives and contacts from our memberships. Our agendas normally cover data analyses for performance improvement and project management of current performance initiatives. I also spend some of my day pulling together the materials needed for these calls, as well as documents (presentations, data analyses) that we present onsite with the members in person. Finally, I work with our team to help them strategize on how to best work with their members. In addition to the day-to-day in the office, several times a month, I have a few days where I am traveling out to meet with our members in person, where we provide education on our technology and have focused strategy meetings with the executive team to discuss how we can make the most out of our performance improvement initiatives.

Please tell us about your path from SPHHS to where you are today. How did you get your first job in the field?

My third year of my master's program had an administrative residency where I spent a year working under the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Potomac Hospital in Woodbridge, VA.  From there, I got a consulting position at Huron Consulting Group. My mentor from my master's program was helpful in discussing career-pathing and was also the person who helped me to learn about Huron Consulting Group. Between Huron and my current position, I also worked for Davita, which is a for-profit outpatient dialysis company, as a Facility Administrator. In that role, I managed an outpatient dialysis clinic, along with the Medical Director, and was responsible for both the business and clinical operations of the facility.

What is the best career advice you have ever received?

Find a way to connect with others outside of what's on your resume – what makes you unique and interesting as a person? Think about how can you walk into a room and make an instant connection with someone within a few minutes – this is how you will set yourself apart from others.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to work in your field?

There are so many different focus areas in healthcare operations and leadership – having the opportunity to complete a fellowship or internship where you can get a taste for different departments (finance, clinical operations, revenue cycle, etc.) is extremely helpful in the beginning to pave your career. Also, find a mentor: someone who has several years of experience ahead of you; someone who you can talk to about his or her experiences and can give you advice and help with identifying your strengths and areas to improve.

What was the impetus for getting your SPHHS degree?

I specifically wanted to pursue my degree (MHSA) as it had the fellowship built into the program already; the opportunity for a facilitated approach to getting hands-on experience early in my career was very appealing. 

Interview conducted July 2013