Educator has mentored roughly 2,000 healthcare execs
Ken White didn't plan to come out as gay at his inaugural meeting as a board member of the American College of Healthcare Executives. But nerves got the best of him at that 2004 gathering and, introducing himself to the group, he inadvertently said “he” while describing his partner.
The reaction wasn't what he expected. Colleagues praised his courage, and the blunder ultimately strengthened his resolve to bring change to the organization from the inside. Twelve years later, he founded ACHE's LGBT Forum.
“I think they needed to be shaken up a little bit,” said White, associate dean for strategic partnerships and innovation at the University of Virginia's School of Nursing.
The ACHE has bestowed upon White its 2019 Gold Medal Award for advancing the profession through his leadership as a researcher, author and clinician.
White views his biggest contribution to ACHE as helping providers improve performance and quality. He teaches ACHE continuing education classes, has served on several task forces and has mentored roughly 2,000 people who now serve in senior leadership roles. White said he works to instill in health systems a culture of transformation and responsiveness to stakeholders.
“From the housekeeper and the cleaning person all the way up to the medical staff and the nurse practitioners, they should all be able to identify opportunities for improvement,” he said.
He also preaches the importance of using metrics to gauge quality and safety and protecting frontline caregivers against burnout.
White is currently doing research focused on palliative and end-of-life care.