Ophthalmologist Finds Vision for Leadership: 'Love is the Key'

Ophthalmologist Finds Vision for Leadership: ‘Love is the Key’

By Blake Ursch

Donny Suh, MD, MBA’19, made a promise to his mother. When he was a boy growing up in South Korea, Suh’s mother suffered from an eye condition that the family couldn’t afford to treat. Suh told her that one day he would become a doctor and help heal other patients with similar conditions.

Following what Suh considers to be several “miracles” and meeting “angels,” he fulfilled his promise. Today, Suh is a pediatric ophthalmologist and adult strabismologist at Omaha’s Children’s Hospital & Medical Center and professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Even though he achieved his childhood dream, he hasn’t stopped setting goals. In May, Suh graduated with an Executive Healthcare MBA from Creighton’s Heider College of Business.

“I’ve been practicing medicine for 20 years, and I’ve truly enjoyed taking care of patients and teaching medical students and residents, but as I was moving up in the ranks, I realized I needed to sharpen my leadership skills,” says Suh, who is currently serving as interim surgeon-in-chief at Children’s. “I needed to learn how to interact with patients, other colleagues and leadership in the hospital, and I also needed to understand finance and how to resolve conflict.”

The Executive Healthcare MBA program is designed for doctors like Suh, who are looking to learn organizational leadership skills and advanced business concepts. The program has a robust and credible curriculum, designed around two of the most well-respected professional associations in the health care industry: the American College of Healthcare Executives and the American Association for Physician Leadership. Suh, who also teaches as a clinical associate professor in Creighton’s School of Medicine, says he chose Creighton because he admires the culture of the University and the work ethic of its students.

During the program, Suh and his classmates heard from professors, as well as speakers from across the country, who presented on what it means to be a “servant leader,” and how to embrace their own vulnerabilities, strengths and weaknesses to effectively manage a team. The students and the professors worked together throughout the program to encourage growth in each other.

“They focused on their core values of heart, mind and soul,” Suh says. “They wanted to make sure that I learned to be a good person and that I could truly turn around and help other people. They wanted to make sure I could reach a person’s soul and mind, and provide hope. That was something very unique and for which I have tremendous respect.”

Suh says the skills he cultivated in the MBA program have influenced his day-to-day work. He’s learned he doesn’t have to be perfect to be an effective leader. He’s learned how to recognize his own weaknesses and blind spots and surround himself with people who complement them. The experience, he says, has helped him become a better communicator and a better doctor.

“There is a big difference between listening and hearing. Now I feel I truly listen to my patients and, because I know myself better, I can help people better,” he says. “The one key ingredient that all leaders should have is to truly love the people you are working for. Without love, you don’t have a chance. That’s what I learned. Love is the key ingredient.”

Visit business.creighton.edu/healthcaremba for more information about the Executive Healthcare MBA program in the Heider College of Business.