Interview with Nancy Borkowski, DBA, FACHE, CPA, Professor in the Department of Health Services Administration, University of Alabama at Birmingham

By Kash | Journal of Healthcare Management, January/February 2016 | Go to article overview

Interview with Nancy Borkowski, DBA, FACHE, CPA, Professor in the Department of Health Services Administration, University of Alabama at Birmingham


Kash, Journal of Healthcare Management


Nancy Borkowski, DBA, FACHE, CPA, FHFMA is a professor in the Department of Health Services Administration at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). Dr. Borkowski has more than 20 years of experience in the healthcare field and is the author of several textbooks that are used both nationally and internationally in graduate and undergraduate administration and nursing programs. Her research has been published in numerous prominent journals in health services administration, management, and organizational behavior.

Dr. Borkowski is the recipient of several awards, including ACHE's Exemplary Service Award and Distinguished Service Award. She also is a two-time recipient of the ACHE Southern Florida Regent's Senior Career Healthcare Executive Award, which recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to the advancement of healthcare management excellence.

Dr. Kash: You began your career as a certified public accountant. What attracted you to the healthcare field and to academia specifically?

Dr. Borkowski: After 10 years of working in public accounting at national and regional firms, as well as in my own practice, I decided to transition into the private sector. The question was, in which industry did I want to focus my energies? Of all my clients, the ones I most enjoyed working with were connected in some way to the healthcare field-hospital executives, physicians managing large practices, and administrators of long-term care facilities. I decided to focus my attention on healthcare and returned to school to obtain a master's degree in health services administration. Over the next decade, I served in various leadership roles with large physician practices and managed care organizations.

In 1995, I entered into a partnership with a physician colleague to own and operate what were referred to at that time as partial-risk primary care provider (PCP) clinics. This was the point at which I found my way into academia. As the administrator for our PCP clinics, I became increasingly aware that the entry-level and midlevel staffwe were hiring lacked the knowledge and skill sets necessary for them (and, in turn, the clinics) to be successful. To remedy the situation, I approached a local university that offered undergraduate and graduate degrees in health services administration. The program director asked if I would be interested in teaching to share my knowledge of and experience in the healthcare field. Like many other people, I usually avoided situations requiring public speaking, but I was always up for a challenge. I accepted the adjunct faculty position and spent the next few months developing lectures, performing research, and writing notes in preparation for my first day of class. When I walked into the classroom for the first time and began to engage the students in discussions of healthcare delivery challenges, I knew that teaching was my life's calling. Fast-forward 20 years, and I still experience that same feeling every time I walk into the classroom. I am blessed and thankful to be able to teach others, conduct research, and provide service in an area that I am passionate about-healthcare-and, more specifically, the efficient and effective delivery of health services. That is how I found my way from public accounting to the healthcare field and finally into academia.

Dr. Kash: Many healthcare management education programs are moving toward competency-based curriculum and training. What are the pros and cons of competency-based education for healthcare management?

Dr. Borkowski: Given what I experienced during my practitioner years, I am a strong supporter of competency-based education. Although somewhat new to healthcare management, competency-based education is ingrained in other healthcare fields, such as nursing and medicine. If we think about the definition of competency-based education-development of the behaviors, knowledge, skill sets, and abilities needed to be successful not just in healthcare but in life-it is difficult to find any negatives. …

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