by Phoebe Smith
from SPPD Community Connections, Winter 2005
Tim Collins learned a great deal about being a first-responder when he was just a teenager out of high school. As a lifeguard in Laguna Beach, he served on the frontlines of clinical care, rescuing beleaguered swimmers.
The summer job was his introduction to the healthcare industry.
“As a lifeguard, you’re the first responder and the first person to provide any kind of treatment,” he says. “But then I thought about the setting beyond, where people received more comprehensive care.”
At summer’s end, Collins was enrolled at USC and eventually earned a bachelor’s degree in business. To pursue his interests in both business and healthcare, he left a management training program at Pioneer Electronics and began work at SCAN Healthcare. After working in the healthcare industry for a period, he returned to USC to earn a master’s degree in health administration.
“I wanted to blend both business and the delivery of healthcare services,” says Collins.
Fortified with an SPPD education, Collins went to work for KPMG and later for Ernst & Young. In April 2003, he joined Providence Health System, a not-for-profit health organization, as regional executive director for supply chain management. In this capacity, he also serves as regional integrity officer and oversees compliance with the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
Collins’s commitment to healthcare reaches beyond the boardroom and into the classroom. As a member of SPPD’s MHA advisory board and an adjunct faculty member, he has taught several courses in healthcare finance over the past three years-the same courses in which he was a student just a few years ago.
Of all his teaching activities, he says he especially enjoys leading students through case study and group projects. For these projects, students work one-on-one with industry practitioners, most of whom are healthcare executives. Each student then presents his or her work to a board that comprises all of these industry practitioners, who in turn provide students with invaluable feedback.
“These projects are important because they give students exposure at the executive level to healthcare’s biggest issues,” says Collins. “Students also learn how to present in front of peers and in front of executives.”
Collins believes that it is SPPD’s emphasis on the management aspects of healthcare that will give its new Executive MHA program the edge over similar programs.
“The new Executive MHA builds on a comprehensive, management-focused healthcare administrative program versus one that is more epidemiology based,” he says. “It offers a combination of tailored electives and flexible intensives that are taught by subject-matter professionals, who also serve as contacts in the industry.”
Collins has found that working in healthcare management is personally gratifying as well. His current employer, Providence Health System, is a Catholic network that serves communities in four Western states.
“Working within Catholic healthcare is important to me,” he says. “The ministries that we cover work to ensure a safety net for the poor and vulnerable. Through Providence, I’m able to give back to the Catholic communities it serves.”
Collins also gives back to his alma mater as a member of the SPPD Alumni Association Board’s executive committee.
“I’m excited that the school is investing in an alumni association that is multidisciplinary and that integrates all of our programs,” he says. “The association builds upon the efforts of each program to stay connected to its alumni long after graduation.”
In addition to being an SPPD alumnus and teacher, Collins has a familial connection to the school. His father, Tom Collins, is an adjunct faculty member of the school and also a graduate of USC.
“I have never met a more well-rounded leader, nor one who is a better role model,” says Collins of his father.
“He is a teacher and a coach at heart, and always will be,” he says. “He’s a humble man who wants to be in the background while he watches others succeed. He is a leader in the true sense of the word.”
Qualities, it appears, that have manifested in the younger Collins as well.