Learning, Leading, and Enriching Lives
Cachet R. Colvard, MHSA ’17, MBA ’20
Department Administrator, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi
September 4, 2020, Alumni, Health Management and Policy, MHSA, Coronavirus, Detroit, Entrepreneurship, Global Public Health, Health Care Management, Leadership, Professional Development
Helping people live healthier lives is a long-standing passion of mine. However, as an adolescent, I did not know what that would mean for me. This has transpired to living halfway around the world (for the third time), working as a global health care leader. As I write this from Abu Dhabi, I am proud of what I've learned and have been able to contribute to our organization and the people of this country.
Growing up in Detroit, my educational foundation began at Bates Academy, a Detroit public school. It was at the Roeper School where I became interested in health care—particularly after my student exchange experience. The semester I spent in Shanghai was the same year as the H1N1 pandemic. I also had a health episode while there that sparked further interest in health care as a career.
During my junior year at the University of Michigan, I was a research student in the Minority Health International Research Training (MHIRT) program. I spent four months in Accra, Ghana, researching the psycho-social factors affecting birth outcomes in urban Ghanaian women. I worked with public health officials and community leaders, specifically in health systems, the government, and insurance companies.
What mattered most—to them and me—was taking the time to listen.
In those four months, I saw how impactful public health interventions could be on a community's health through the enhanced well-being of mothers and infants. In collaboration with local community partners, the interventions we developed changed people's lives. However, what mattered most—to them and me—was taking the time to listen.
I remember speaking with a group of women on a maternity ward for hours. We laughed and cried and discussed the challenges they faced. I am so grateful they shared their stories and invited me into their lives.
The most beneficial aspect of my time at Michigan was the practical preparation I received to succeed in the health care industry.
Instantly, my passion had revealed itself. As soon as I returned to Michigan, I applied to the School of Public Health.
The most beneficial aspect of my time at Michigan was the practical preparation I received to succeed in the health care industry. The School of Public Health provided not only excellent coursework but opportunities to learn through case competitions, student organization involvement, courses with visiting professors practicing in the field, and relationships with our (very engaged) network of alumni.
My Michigan education certainly prepared me to be an effective health care administrator. More importantly, it prepared me to be someone who contributes to making the world a healthier place. With this foundation, I am carrying my passion for health care forward into a successful career that began as soon as I graduated.
Today, I am an Administrator at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, an extension of Cleveland Clinic, based in the United Arab Emirates. Cleveland Clinic locations worldwide share the same mission, vision, and goals of putting patients first, providing quality health care, and educating the next generation of health care professionals.
The management skills and creative approaches I learned at Michigan have helped us create real change.
My work in Abu Dhabi is focused on aligning operations and clinical services for the best possible patient experience. The management skills and creative approaches I learned at Michigan have helped us create real change, which has driven growth and quality of care while also being fiscally responsible with our resources.
Most recently, I spearheaded our department's COVID-19 response by introducing telemedicine options and organizing caregiver deployment to support the local community. I'm incredibly proud of how quickly we were able to innovate under duress. Health care was already intense before the pandemic—now, of course, things are more complex and more demanding. We have found new ways to take care of critically sick patients with limited resources while maintaining safety, essential services, and access to care throughout the organization.
These innovations are here to stay and will be models for improving health care delivery in the Middle East and beyond.
As an emerging health care leader with a world-class Michigan education, I’ve led numerous strategic initiatives and improvement projects throughout our health system. In conjunction with this experience, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to help other young professionals navigate the complexities of health care leadership.
The world needs these rising stars to continue the improvement of quality and accessible health care.
This work of giving back through supporting young professionals is something that drives me forward every day. Over the last five years, I've spent time with over 100 emerging leaders, assisting with goal-setting, cover letters, interview preparation, graduate school applications, and other essential preparations for health care careers. I feel so honored to be a part of their journeys—the world needs these rising stars to continue the improvement of quality and accessible health care.
I’ve also channeled this passion into a nonprofit I built with my mother called Ordinary Women Doing extraOrdinary Things (OWDOT). OWDOT empowers women to be exceptional leaders individually, professionally, and within their communities.
Everyone has a story that ignites us to be creative and bold. But no one incident or story defines my reasoning for being an OWDOT. Rather, it is the whole shape of my life and experiences that have led me to this place and these opportunities for giving back.
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