By Lois Thomson, South Florida Hospital News, for ACHE of South Florida
Arianna Urquia knew from a very young age that she wanted a career in business, but she didn’t know healthcare was also going to be part of the equation. Currently Vice President/CFO of Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, Urquia provides executive oversight over all revenue cycle functions of the hospital, which include Patient Access, Health Information Management, Billing and Collections. She also supports the executive leadership team in strategic planning and profitability analysis, and manages budget performance.
Additionally, Urquia talked about the current challenges healthcare leaders face today – managing price compression together with unprecedented cost inflation, all while providing high-quality, best-in-class healthcare. Urquia said labor shortages and supply chain disruptions are just a few of the contributing factors to increased costs in the delivery of healthcare.
As to how Urquia got her start, she explained that she began as a patient access representative in the emergency department of her local hospital while in college pursuing a finance degree. “I needed a job that was flexible enough to accommodate school hours, and the emergency department being a 24/7 operation provided just that.” As she was finishing her degree, she began to explore opportunities within her field of study, she said. “During my search, an opportunity became available in the accounting department of that same hospital. I transitioned there, not thinking it would be a permanent move. I thought I was simply getting my foot in the door.”
However, growth and promotions came quickly in those areas, and she started to think more intently about her choices. “I found myself enjoying the work I was doing.” At some point it went from just being a job, to ‘I am going to be a hospital CFO one day.'”
That was almost two decades ago, and Urquia continues to combine the dual areas of her work. Two years ago, she took an additional step and became a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), because she felt it provided healthcare executive leaders with an opportunity to network with other healthcare leaders and learn from each other.
To further that, her intent was to become an ACHE fellow. “I wanted to attain fellowship status as a recognition of positive leadership and competency in all aspects of healthcare management.” To become a fellow, one must be a member of ACHE for 12 months, must attain 36 continuing education credits, provide community service, be in an executive leadership position, and pass the Board of Governors exam. Becoming an ACHE fellow is considered to be the gold standard for board certification in health management, and Urquia said, “I felt that it provided a distinction among healthcare leaders, and I definitely wanted to pursue it.” She attained that distinction this past summer.
In addition, she believes membership provides relevant content within the healthcare community on an array of topics, whether finance, clinical, IT, etc. – “it brings content that is relevant and that impacts us all.”
For these reasons, Urquia said she absolutely would encourage others to join ACHE. “It provides an opportunity for networking with like-minded individuals; it allows you to connect with those in your field to discuss relevant topics and gain insight into different perspectives on those topics.”