By Lois Thomson, South Florida Hospital News, for ACHE of South Florida
David Zambrana, PhD, DNP, MBA, RN, began his career as a nurse at Jackson Memorial Hospital, and through the years, has advanced to his current position as Jackson Health System’s executive vice president and chief operating officer. He said during that progression, “Many people along the way saw in me what I oftentimes may have not seen, and they certainly supported my growth.”
Part of that support came through advice Zambrana received from colleagues. “Early on, every one of my mentors said you’ve got to find a community of individuals along the way who are in similar roles to yourself.” He found that community at the American College of Healthcare Executives. A member for “at least a decade,” he considers ACHE to be an extension of his network – getting to routinely interact with colleagues and make new connections. “That’s what I sought early on, and that’s why I continue to maintain my membership. It’s also why I support others in joining.”
Zambrana said issues in health care are mostly universal, and while there is quite a bit of variability in hospitals, there is a strong sense of camaraderie among industry leaders. “I find great support in connecting with these individuals and sharing and learning from challenges and successes that others in my role or in this field have.”
He said his primary focus is Jackson Health System’s day-to-day operations, which encompasses numerous hospitals and medical centers, as well as the ambulatory division, consisting of six urgent care centers and five primary care centers.
However, Zambrana is quick to point out, “It’s all about our team. We have an incredible team of leaders and they take ownership of their respective pieces of the health system. It’s overwhelming to think of the size, but when you have a good team, that makes it very manageable.”
He urges others to become involved with ACHE, so they receive the same type of encouragement he has gotten throughout his career. Zambrana commented that while health care is large in its regional footprint, it’s actually a small network of individuals. “It’s remarkable how so many of us who have come up together have remained in this community; it’s fascinating to see how all of us have grown along our journey. That’s been an ongoing interest of mine and a benefit.”
Along with the personal benefits, Zambrana also considers ACHE an “opportunity to give back. The network of leaders who are up-and-coming certainly has been an area that I have been connected to, and I find it’s my way of helping mentor the next generation.” He said that any aspiring or ambitious leader who wants to grow needs to have an affiliation with organizations of the same interest.