Don Avery, FACHE
Executive MBA in Healthcare Prepares Students for Next Step
Don Avery began his career as a U.S. Air Force pilot, ultimately serving for 6 years. While in the Air Force, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and the experience shaped his future, inspiring him to return to school and pursue a path in healthcare administration. Today, he’s the CEO of Fairview Park Hospital in Dublin, Georgia, and he’s also a professor within Creighton University’s Executive Healthcare MBA program.
Avery teaches Introduction to Healthcare Management, a course that serves as a launching point for the EMBA program. It gives an overview of how a healthcare system operates from a business perspective, setting the stage for later courses that cover the various topics in more depth.
A Healthcare MBA for What’s Next
Avery notes that the program is designed for adult learners, so most of the students are established in their careers, which creates a unique learning environment. Each cohort of students is filled with individuals who are eager to broaden their skills and who bring in a wide variety of life and career experiences. Avery says, “This program helps students begin to look at their careers from a broader perspective, a higher viewpoint than just their area.” That perspective can make all the difference. “I believe this program uniquely prepares students, in 18 months, to take that next step in their career.”
The program’s residencies—there are four total—also offer valuable face-to-face time where he can get to know students, and they can get acquainted with each other. In that way, the program serves as a networking opportunity, where students naturally discuss careers, offer advice and encourage one another.
He says he sees students build on those relationships and come to depend on each other through group projects and discussions. That support helps buoy students throughout the program.
Learning is a Two-Way Street
As much as the students learn from him, and from each other, Avery says he also learns from them, noting, “I read their projects and listen to their comments, and that has influenced my own work that I participate in every day.” Students are working professionals, and he treats them almost as colleagues or mentees, offering advice outside of class and listening closely to their perspectives.
He says his favorite part about teaching is the student interaction. It brings him joy. He gets to know students on a personal level, and he says, “that motivates me to make sure that I give them the same time that they’re expected to give to the program.”
As personal as that is to him, he knows it’s not unique within the EMBA program. He notes, “I’ve met virtually all the other instructors, and they’re very engaged in what they do at Creighton and also in their careers. That perspective makes the teaching so much better.”