Angela Mattie: Leading the Next Generation of Healthcare Providers
Quinnipiac University (QU) Professor and East Haven resident Angela Mattie was “completely surprised” when she learned she was the recipient of the Regent Senior Leader Award from the American College of Healthcare Executives. But she was also “humbled” and “honored” by the accolade as well.
Things have come full circle in a way for Angela. Before being on the boards of multiple organizations during her career and serving as a health policy fellow for the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, she graduated summa cum laude from QU. She is currently a professor in both the School of Business and the Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine, and her daughter received both her undergraduate and master’s degree from QU.
“Quinnipiac holds a special place in my heart,” says Angela. “It’s really rewarding to be able to pay forward all the opportunities I’ve had and the wonderful mentors I’ve had in my life to our future generation of healthcare leaders. So it means everything.”
Looking to educate the “future generation of healthcare leaders” from both managerial and healthcare angles came together with having been the founding chair of the university’s Department of Healthcare Management and Organizational Leadership. She is also the co-coordinator of the medical school health management/leadership concentration. Angela says she is “passionate about fostering commitment in the next generation of healthcare leaders to improve the healthcare system,” a tremendous part of American society of which she sees many issues that need mending through effective leadership.
“We don’t have the best health care system now. We spend about 18 to 20% of gross domestic product on healthcare-related [matters], but we still have significant patient safety issues and events, and we have a very costly system,” says Angela. “We really need to increase the value and lower the costs and increase the quality and safety for our healthcare system.”
“One of the major things…is that you always have to remember it’s about the patient,” says Angela. It’s not about “looking at a spreadsheet about operating margins,” nor “how fast you get patients through,” but rather understanding that patients are human beings like everyone else, a big part of establishing a sound healthcare culture.
“We’re all going to be patients, and we’re all going to know patients; we’re going to know people we love, you know, we’re going to have parents or grandparents and siblings and spouses and significant others cycled through the healthcare system,” says Angela. “We’re taking care of actual people and patients at the most vulnerable. There’s a lot of transferable leadership qualities that go into improving the healthcare system, but I do think healthcare is unique in that we’re not paid individually; we’re paid from a third party. We have a unique vocabulary; we have a unique set of economics.”
Angela recognizes that East Haven and North Haven residents are not alone in experiencing the same healthcare-related issues, such as high costs and waiting periods associated with being uninsured. The recently proposed expansion of Tweed Airport remains an important health issue for East Haven residents.
“We’re in an environmental justice town. I think we need to pay attention to what the airport is doing to the environment here and the conditions that will precipitate.”
Upon returning to teaching this fall, Angela will teach “healthcare quality and safety.” This includes not just the technical aspects of healthcare but fostering a better culture and safer system. Her position at QU also allows MBA students to take her courses as well.
“Quinnipiac is unique in that MBA students have the option of taking the quality safety course. You might say, ‘Well, why?’ Because employers are the biggest purchasers of healthcare services, but they don’t necessarily have the tools, the techniques, or the training to even ask the right questions. So the more we begin to teach employers and students in business about health care quality and safety, the more sophisticated the consumer becomes who’s paying for the service.”
For those considering taking a leadership role in healthcare, Angela has a message of encouragement for them.
“There’s lots of other professions that may pay better. There’s lots of other professions that are easier. Healthcare is highly regulated; it’s complicated. I think you have to feel it in your heart. It has to be a profession and a calling. My mother was a nurse, and she felt it in her heart…I feel it in my heart every day. I feel honored and privileged to be able, at this point in my career, to pay it forward. There’s lots of opportunity for improvement in our system.”