"Allow your eyes and ears to be open to new opportunities."
MHA Spotlight: Brad Gant
Interview Conducted by Holly Wells
Tell me about your childhood.
I was born and raised in Evansville, Indiana. Both my parents and my extended family lived in Evansville at that time and most of them still do. So, we were definitely an Evansville-based family. I have one sister, who is 18 months younger than me. I grew up playing baseball and soccer, which were my two childhood activities. I chose soccer to be the sport that was best suited for me and played throughout high school.
Why did you decide to pursue your Master of Health Administration?
My undergraduate degree is a physical therapist assistant and is in sports medicine. My first healthcare experience was in an outpatient hospital therapy department - which was St. Mary’s at that time and is now St. Vincent.
I really enjoyed that position and that role of helping, learning, and teaching patients. I also had the chance to interact with pediatric patients, which was a fun thing for me to do. I had two supervisors in the therapy department who had gone through the MHA program. One day I had one of them come up to me and we were talking about how I loved therapy, but I also would love to know what else I could do. This supervisor has now become a mentor of mine. I didn’t know if I would do direct patient care for the next 50 years. I didn’t see myself in that role and at some point, would like to have more opportunities.
It were those two supervisors, and especially the one who was my direct supervisor, who encouraged me to pursue the program and to advance my career.
What was an early leadership lesson for you?
I think an early leadership lesson is something that you should know and it is something that you do know. Until you are faced with the situation, it is hard to know how you’ll deal with it. That is knowing that, as a leader and a manager, you are going to be called on to make decisions that are not popular with everyone that you’re working with. The lesson was that you have to make the decision that you know is right. In many cases, this may not go over well with some or all your coworkers.
You do not want to upset people that you might consider friends or close colleagues; however, you have to know ultimately that your decision was right for your department, facility, clinic, or even your patients: By explaining my reasoning for making this decision and recognizing that it may not be a popular decision, but the importance of it is what matters the most.
How did you get to where you are now? What steps did you take to become a practice manager at St. Vincent Center for Children?
I feel like there are some individuals who have a specific plan of how they are going to get to the next spot, place, or career ladder. That was not my style. My style was to do a really good job at what I was doing and allow my eyes and ears to be open to new opportunities that might arise.
When I was in therapy as a full-time therapist, I had actually graduated from the program and was still in a full-time therapy position, and I was fine with that. I had no immediate need to rush out and search for new job opportunities. Not too many months after graduation, my supervisor came to me and stated, “My career is going to advance, and I’m going to take a new role with the organization. My position is going to become open, and I think you should really look at applying.”
As the coordinator of two outpatient facilities, I worked hard at effectively coordinating the people that reported to me, while developing professional relationships with others within the organization. Later on, I became a manager in our medical group in adult primary care. I was someone who was able to adapt to change and also learn from others fairly well. It is somewhat of the same story from my transition from adult primary care to the Center for Children.
How else has your leadership style evolved over time?
With time and experience, one of the biggest things that has changed is feeling more confident to speak up and to share my thoughts, whether I am in agreement or respectively in disagreement with others that might be at the table. I learned is it is really important to connect with your staff, be approachable to your staff, and to get along with your staff; however, don’t cross the line of becoming their friend.
This makes challenging decisions way more challenging. It starts to cross the line of professional work life into personal home life. I learned to be close to my staff, understand my staff, and to know and care about them as people.
How do you hire?
At St. Vincent Center for Children, we get applications/resumes for various job openings. The reality is I only have a few minutes to look at the resumes that come through, so I am really just looking to see does it look professional, are there experiences on that piece of paper that are related to this role and are suitable for the Center for Children.
When I interview, my style is to make people feel comfortable and welcomed. I also don’t choose any questions that are very challenging or throw people for a loop. In most cases, I do try to have a supervisor or person in a managerial role present during the interview, so I can receive their feedback on the interview as well. A lot of my interview is asking you about what either I see on your resume that you can explain and/or talk about, how that experience might be helpful in the job we are hiring for, or something that sounds intriguing to me that you mentioned.
Occasionally, I’ll ask you to give an example and ask what you did during that time to allow the patient to have a good experience. Lastly, if the interview goes well, we’ll often have that candidate shadow our staff. This gives the candidate a few hours to see what the job is like in the real environment and even gives the staff a good idea as to if the candidate would be a good fit.