09:23 AM

Hospital CEO lauds networking opportunities in MHA program

When Cris Daskevich was in the midst of a doctoral program in clinical neuropsychology, she realized it wasn't for her. By chance, she learned that University of Houston-Clear Lake had a joint Healthcare Administration MHA/MBA, which was her opportunity to gain the necessary business skills while staying in healthcare.

"It was the perfect opportunity," said Daskevich, who completed her degree in 1997 and began a 22-year career at Texas Children's Hospital. Her progressive senior leadership roles at TCH led her to became CEO of The Children's Hospital in San Antonio and senior vice president of Maternal Services for CHRISTUS Health in 2018.

"The dual master's program has been important to me throughout my career because it provided both the business and healthcare administration perspectives and exposed me to business and healthcare leaders across Houston and beyond," she said. "That was my primary reason to come to UH-Clear Lake. It significantly influenced me — it wasn't just about what I learned in my classes, but the exposure I gained to leaders from world-class healthcare organizations across the Texas Medical Center."

Daskevich said it was an exceptional program because of the community that comes together to help teach. "Professors and guest lecturers reflected on current issues in business and healthcare and they had diverse backgrounds from not-for-profits, academics, for-profit systems, public health institutions, payers, government officials, and suppliers," she said. "Many of our visiting professors who helped teach the programs are icons in their fields. They were a huge influence in helping guide and direct me with my fellowship and throughout my career. They freely give time back to the program and to upcoming students."

She said that now, in her current leadership role, she also feels that it was part of her obligation to pay it forward. "We believe it's critical to encourage and support up-and-comers, and to ensure the future of healthcare remains bright," she said. "Teaching, leading and opening doors for early careerists is an important piece of the UHCL program, and it's why it continues to do so well."

The program's location in the Texas Medical Center is another unique benefit to students in the program. "You're in the center of the top medical center in the world," Daskevich said. "You're exposed to nationally recognized leaders, unparalleled care, cutting edge technology, research, education and state-of-the-art facilities. The program is in the middle of all that, along with access to incredible clinical and administrative leaders working on real-world projects. It all makes a huge difference because what you are learning is reality, not hypotheticals and you are exposed to some of the greatest minds in medicine."

Decades into her career, Daskevich says she is still using what she learned in her coursework at UHCL. "It's so important to network," she said. "They really focused on that at UHCL. My classmates were close and many of us are still good friends. The program develops and produces strong leaders who are CEOs, COOs, CNOs running large healthcare organizations across the country. I have enjoyed supporting the program and the students. They should be excited about their future in a career that allows them to serve others and make a difference in the world."

The UHCL Alumni Association granted Daskevich the Early Achievement Award in 2005 and she was recognized as a Distinguished Alumna by the university in 2012.

For more information about UHCL's MHA/MBA program, go online.