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Taylor Foster

Director of Cardiovascular Programs at Atrium Health, MBA 2019

What made you choose a career path in healthcare?
I’ve always had a desire to help people. I chose a career where I could impact care delivery at a more macro level (as opposed to individual care), which is why I chose the route of healthcare administration. I absolutely love partnering with clinicians to approach healthcare challenges innovatively and improve care at the population- and patient-level.

What was the biggest challenge while getting your MBA at UNC Kenan-Flagler? Biggest reward?
The same answer for both! Forcing myself to learn skills outside of my passions and interest. For me, that was finance. It’s easy to become proficient in your comfort zone, but it is challenging, rewarding, and necessary to improve your understanding of areas outside of it. The time spent in those spaces helped me grow both professionally and personally.

What is the most important skill you have developed in your career?
What I call “professional empathy” – the ability to understand the competing forces at play in any given situation. Oftentimes, we all want to do the right thing, and many times the “right” thing is the same for multiple parties. It’s the “how we get there” that gets tricky. We lived in a world of limited resources (time, money, people, etc.). Taking the time to try and understand why someone may be forced to say “no” to a proposal based on the professional forces, restrictions, metrics, etc. they face has helped me better develop solutions acceptable to both parties – even if that solution wasn’t always my first choice. Most of the times, there is a “win-win” outcome possible, it just takes creativity and professional empathy to arrive at it.

What advice would you give current students or recent graduates interested in pursuing a career in your professional field?
Partnering with clinicians and seeking to understand their world is critical to success. Regardless of the healthcare sector, you will be much more effective if you can partner with clinicians and leverage their expertise to help solve business problems.

How do you define success?
From a business perspective, better patient outcomes – clinical outcomes, patient experience, efficiency, etc. – the definition of success changes based on the problem at hand, but patients must stay at the forefront of what we do. From a personal perspective, I feel successful if I am challenged and growing. I strive to always be learning new skills, tackling new problems, taking on new opportunities. If I am bored, I’m doing something wrong!

Who inspires you?
I am inspired daily by the nurses I work with.

What is something about you that not many people know?
There’s not much people don’t know about me! But my proudest (and most fun) accomplishment to date is being a mom to my 5-month-old son, Hayes.