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John Stark, MBA, MS

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John Stark, MBA, MS

University of Iowa Health Care

John Stark started with the University of Iowa Health Care in food procurement and purchasing, and moved on to directing the anesthesia department. After completing the MHCDS program, he’s now shadowing the COO...

Career Changer

Position before MHCDS: Chief Administrator, Anesthesia Department
Additional Position after MHCDS: Associate Director for Interventional Services
New Areas of Oversight: Operating Rooms, all Surgical Departments, the Neurosciences
Shift in Career Trajectory: Finance to Operations and Strategy
Career-Changing Experience: Exposure to entirely new ways of looking at the relationship between revenues, costs, and patient experiences.
New, Career-Broadening Skills: How to read and understand medical literature; how to collect critical data; how to think in the language of context and strategy. “The experience made me a better communicator and advocate — and a better leader.”
Telling Detail: Has been recruited to join a core group of innovative thinkers tasked with bridging and aligning the traditionally separated academic and hospital sides of the university medical system.
Favorite Lesson from MHCDS Program: “Gil Welch told us that this industry needs disruption, and that we need to be the disruptive ones. I’ve taken that to heart in my new position. I’m being productively disruptive.”

Moving Toward Something That Doesn’t Yet Exist

John Stark had 20 years with the University of Iowa Health Care before he was tapped to be part of the Iowa team joining the inaugural MHCDS class at Dartmouth. With a finance and business administration background, Stark had risen out of food production and procurement and food purchasing to a key job directing the system’s anesthesia department. “It was a challenging, significant area,” he recalls. “High levels of expenses, revenues, faculty positions, total personnel. Anesthesia touches everyone. It gave me a broad exposure to the institution.”

At the same time, recognizing the changing healthcare environment, the administration decided it needed to create a core group of resources to help approach new challenges in a very different way — and to do that it needed a group of managers and strategic thinkers who could work together beyond the daily, focused pressures and needs of individual departments. Stark was sent through the Dartmouth program not to learn how to better manage in today’s environment, he says, but to move that environment toward something more efficient that didn’t yet exist.

In the MHCDS program Stark was exposed to entirely new ways of looking at costs and revenues and patient experiences. He learned skills that added to his background in finance: how to read and understand medical literature, how to collect critical data, how to think in the language of context and strategy. The experience made him a better communicator and advocate — and a better leader. In April of 2013 he was promoted to a newly-created position of Associate Director for Interventional Services, where he oversees a cross-disciplinary area that includes anesthesia, the operating rooms, all surgical departments, and the neurosciences. Part of his new charge is to help restructure, bridge, and align the traditionally separated twin pillars of the system, the academic and hospital sides.