University Hospital executive named president of Alabama professional organization tasked with addressing numerous challenges in today’s healthcare system, including staffing shortages, burnout, and diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace.
By Michelle Ryan
Chad Collins has a track record of making a difference as a healthcare executive, but now he has an opportunity to take that drive — and USA Health — to the next level.
Collins, MHA, FACHE, CHFP, director of operations at USA Health, was recently named president of the Alabama chapter of the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE). ACHE is the professional home of more than 48,000 healthcare executives who are committed to integrity, lifelong learning, leadership, and diversity and inclusion. Its mission is to advance leaders like Collins and the field of healthcare leadership excellence.
“I think being in this position will certainly help bring more awareness to our health system and only further advance the brand,” he said. “Historically, the Alabama chapter’s board members and presidents have resided in the Birmingham area. The majority of the chapter’s past leaders have been employed by UAB.
“To be able to represent the University of South Alabama and USA Health at a state level, as well as a national level, is exciting.”
Collins has served on the Alabama chapter’s board for the past three years, including as vice president, and described his selection as this year’s president as “an honorable and humbling opportunity.” As president, he will also collaborate with others in a similar role on the national Chapter Leaders Committee.
Collins began his health career as a behavioral analyst with AltaPointe Health in 2012. After moving to Dallas to take a job with a behavioral health company, he said his career took off, and he gained extensive leadership experience in for-profit and not-for-profit settings.
While in Texas, Collins first joined ACHE in 2015. Since that time, he has started a mentorship program, served on multiple committees, and participated on panel speaker events.
After Collins returned to Alabama, he saw an opportunity to further some of the organization’s ideals, like coaching, mentorship and professional development. That’s when he created a mentorship program for the state chapter that would connect early- to mid-career leaders with seasoned executives.
“The goal was to create an opportunity for both new health administrators to be partnered with someone experienced to help build their personal brand, network and leadership toolkit,” he said. “Over the course of nine months, the mentors and mentees engaged in various forms of contact to include on-the-job shadowing, networking, and one-on-one journal club to exchange knowledge.”
In 2018, a personal challenge called the Fairhope native and his wife back to the Gulf Coast. When his mother was diagnosed with cancer, they made the decision to return home while she went through treatment at the USA Health Mitchell Cancer Institute.
“We are grateful for the oncologists and staff at MCI who made this experience a good one despite the circumstances,” he said. “I am happy to report my mother is four years in remission and doing well.”
Professionally, Collins and other executives are tasked with facing numerous challenges within today’s healthcare system. Among them, according to Collins, are staffing shortages and burnout, health equity, diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace, and financial hardships stemming from COVID. But ACHE pledges its support in multiple ways to help equip leaders with the resources needed to address them.
“ACHE has leveraged their relationships with corporate partners, consulting companies, executive search firms, and physician partners to address these challenges at some level,” he said. “Administrators have access to relevant information through timely publications, tools, speaker events, conference sessions and collaboratives. ACHE provides an opportunity to engage fellow healthcare leaders to work through issues or advance initiatives to address these challenges as well.”
Collins has participated in ACHE’s diversity, equity and inclusion as a Thomas C. Dolan Executive Diversity Program Scholar. The six-month program includes formal leadership education, senior-level career assessments, specialized learning experiences, virtual learning and networking, and more.
“It was a profound experience partnering with leaders across the world to tackle challenges minority groups face in the workplace,” he said.
According to ACHE, studies suggest that diversity and inclusion training in healthcare leadership results in more equitable healthcare outcomes.
While Collins’ experience and accomplishments speak for themselves, he credits his military experience with much of his success in the healthcare industry.
“Healthcare is a highly regulated, complex environment in a constant state of change. When I think about my experience in the military, it was essentially the same work environment,” he said. “The military emphasizes attention to detail, operating in a highly matrixed organization, teamwork and communication. These are all factors that are important to the success of a healthcare organization and have primed me to be able to function efficiently within the system.”
Collins served in the U.S. Army as an intelligence section sergeant, a position that demands awareness, precision and quick thinking.
“In this role I was responsible for a team of highly skilled individuals that collected, analyzed and disseminated information related to threats in a region or from around the world,” he said. “It was my responsibility to brief Army officers on threats in the battlefield so they could make mission-critical decisions.”
Collins received his Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from Faulkner University and his Master of Science degree in health administration from Louisiana State University-Shreveport.
He has been featured in the 2022 Becker’s Hospital Review’s 75 Black Healthcare Leaders to Know and 2022 Mobile Bay Magazine 40 Under 40. He was also the 2021 recipient of the ACHE of Alabama State Regent Early Careerist Award, which recognizes demonstration of leadership ability and innovative and creative management.
His heart for service is evident in his community activities as well. They include the Birmingham Regional Chapter of the National Association of Health Services Executives, ACHE of Alabama, Leadership Mobile, Mobile Chamber of Commerce, vice president of the DREAM Foundation, vice president of the board for the Child Day Care Association, treasurer for Salty Kidz, treasurer for Whale of Hope, Inc., Ronald McDonald House and Fairhope Youth Sports programs.