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Decades Interview with Bonnie Weikel '77

Bonnie Weikel 

bonnieweikel [at] yahoo.com 

City and State: Colleyville, Texas 

Education: Master's of Science in Health Care Administration 1977, BS in Political Science and Sociology from Howard Payne University 1975

Please tell us a bit about your career path. What is your current job title and employer? How long have you held this position and what does it entail? 

I accepted a position with Bellaire General Hospital in Houston following graduation where my husband and I lived for two years until he was transferred to El Paso. Once there, I secured a position as the Assistant Administrator for Clinical Services before becoming Senior Vice President of Providence Hospital. There had never been a female in administration—ever! I was so excited I couldn’t stand it!

I worked with excellent physicians and wonderful patients. Three years later The Hunter Group was brought in and I was let go after 13 years on staff. I decided to stay home with my children but by the end of the year took a job managing hospital construction of a children’s hospital in Juarez, Mexico. That project ran out of money which temporarily ended construction. I secured a position as the Executive Director of the medical society in El Paso, partially through networking with a Trinity alumnus.

Three years later, we moved to Fort Worth where I worked as Chief Operating Officer of the Dallas County Medical Society for 11 years until retiring in 2008.

Why did you select Trinity's HCAD program? 

My last semester at Howard Payne, I worked at the community hospital alongside Assistant Administrator Charley Trimble who was also a Trinity graduate. Although I was planning to attend law school, Charley encouraged me to look into health care administration at Trinity.

I knew Trinity was one of the top three programs in the country and that was important to me. Plus, my mother, who had also attended Trinity while working on her master’s degree, agreed to help care for my young son—critical because I was a single parent at that time.

Did Health Care Administration end up being what you thought it would be when you were a graduate student? 

Yes, it did. It matched my expectations and, although almost all of my classmates gravitated to hospitals at that time, I eventually discovered there was a broad range of positions available in clinics, physician service organizations and medical societies.    

What benefits and opportunities have you experienced in your career as a graduate of the HCAD program? 

It provided the groundwork to go into hospital work and not feel lost. I felt very fortunate to obtain my residency at the Robert B. Greene county hospital, where there was an ER trauma unit, among other things. When the administrator, who was also a Trinity HCAD student, decided to complete the program, he left me in charge during his four-week sabbatical! I couldn’t believe what was happening but it turned out to be a great experience in management.

In terms of your career, what are the accomplishments you are most proud of? 

Two things, actually: I helped establish 14 children’s chronic disease clinics in El Paso and as a result spoke at a program in Houston sponsored by then Surgeon General C. Everett Koop. It was an exciting time for me!

This is a very demanding profession. How did you stay motivated during the toughest times of your career? 

Working to create better health care for the citizens in our area was highly motivating for me. I believe that we worked to obtain a higher quality of patient care, along with accessibility. This career is highly challenging and demanding. There are long hours and a lot of time away from family. However, each time I met a challenge, it was motivation to continue.

How has the industry changed from when you first entered the health care administration field until now? 

Oh, gosh! It’s changed big time. It’s extremely interesting with insurance companies taking on more control. I was not upset to be leaving hospitals when I did. It had become contentious between hospitals and insurance companies. Costs were rising and profits dropping.

From your perspective, how different is health care going to look in 15 years? 

That is a real concern. I believe we’re going to see many more physician service organizations. Patient care will continue to be less personal with much of it delivered by hospitalists and ancillary health professionals. 

What advice would you share with individuals considering pursuing a master's in health care administration in Trinity's HCAD program? 

Go for it, 100%. That's what I told my daughter, Stephanie, who just finished the program a year ago. She works at Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth. 

What advice would you share with current HCAD students and residents? 

It is an exciting time to be in health care. If I were 25 years old, I would go through it again! 

What book(s) or other resources have you found most helpful in the development of your career as a health care administrator? 

I read anything by Peter Drucker, because his method of management by objectives had a huge effect on me. Continuing education opportunities and networking with my peers and other health care professionals is also important. 

And lastly, tell us briefly about what you enjoy outside of work. 

Right now, I do a lot of community volunteer work. Also, I love to travel with my friends and am visiting the country of Georgia this month. Spending time with my family is at the top of the list. My son, Mike, is 44 and manages a restaurant in Austin. Our daughter, Kristi, is 32 and wants to be a mediator, and Stephanie is 31. And, my husband, Allen, and I spend time together. He was in the health care program at the same time I was! 

 

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