Published: September 17, 2019
What do public health, healthcare, academics and a Six Sigma Green Belt have in common?
They all share synergies for learning, progress, quality improvement and collaboration, says Arthur M. Mora, PhD, new UNTHSC School of Public Health Chair of Health Behavior and Health Systems.
Dr. Mora, who joined UNT Health Science Center this fall, chairs a department that trains future healthcare and public health leaders through the MHA program, the MPH-Maternal and Child Health concentration, the MPH in Public Health Practice and the MS/PhD in Health Behavior Research, along with a new MHA Online degree program soon to be launched.
Achieving Six Sigma leadership certification involves people, performance, perseverance and passion.
The tools and techniques for process improvement that are central to the program were first introduced by a Motorola engineer in 1980 and made famous by author and General Electric Chairman and CEO Jack Welch in the 1990s.
Early in his career, Dr. Mora was confronted with tough management challenges that taught some important leadership lessons he still relies on today.
As an academic medical center manager overseeing 185 full-time employees in departments critical to care delivery and the overall patient experience, he found himself in a turbulent time.
A majority stake of the organization had been sold to a for-profit company, with major consequences. The organization suffered from multiple layoffs and management changes, and within the span of just three years, he ended up working for five different bosses.
“Through it all, my charge was to calm fears and keep employees focused on their roles,” he said. “This really demonstrated the necessity and importance of clear expectations, frequent and earnest communication, and the benefit of providing for team members’ professional development.”
This experience ultimately led Dr. Mora into healthcare consulting for a pharmaceutical corporation, leading a team of nurses and pharmacists helping hospitals develop protocols to decrease avoidable deaths across their systems.
Achieving Six Sigma Green Belt status along the way reflects only part of his desire to learn and do more; pursuing a PhD in Health Services Research followed, which later took Dr. Mora to the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, where he served as Clinical Associate Professor of Health Policy and Management and MHA Program Director before joining UNTHSC.
“Through it all, I gained perspective on how teams composed of members from different backgrounds can have an impact on service and quality, and as I found myself drawn more and more to teaching, I saw how the concepts relate to the academic environment as well,” Dr. Mora said.
UNT Health Science Center’s mission to create solutions for healthier communities and its commitment to quality improvement helped attract Dr. Mora to Fort Worth.
“I first visited UNTHSC in 2017 as a site reviewer for the SPH CAHME (Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education) re-accreditation visit and was impressed by the faculty, staff, leadership and students I met,” he said.
“Quality improvement never rests. It is always about incorporating small changes to make things better and pushing the envelope. For all of us at UNTHSC, that translates in the long run to people and communities that are healthier because of the work we do,” Dr. Mora said.