Iowa alumnus John Corbeil reflects on health care administration career

Published on January 11, 2021

portrait of John CorbeilJohn R. Corbeil (12MHA, 10BBA)
Chief Executive Officer, HCA Houston Healthcare Kingwood
Houston, Texas

Q: What attracted you to study health care administration?

A: Health care is a passion for my family. My dad, Steve, is a Master of Health Administration (MHA) alum from ’84 and my mom graduated from Iowa with a masters in speech language pathology. Growing up around the health care setting showed me the impact I could make in someone’s life, even if I wasn’t at the bedside. Coming into my freshman year as an undergrad at Iowa and while at the Tippie College of Business, I knew becoming a hospital CEO was exactly what I wanted to do. Being able to build teams and support our frontline caregivers in providing health care services to tens of thousands of people in my current role is a very rewarding responsibility, and I can’t see myself wanting to do anything else.

Q: What would you want a student considering a future career in health care administration to know about this field today and where it is headed in the future?

A: With an MHA or health management degree from the University of Iowa, the possibilities of where to make a lasting impact are endless. Many people only consider the hospital setting, but I have seen firsthand how many other opportunities are out there with the education you get from Iowa. My brother Mark (14MHA) and many of my peers from the program have roles in strategic planning, physician practice management, outpatient care settings (ambulatory surgery centers, etc.), business development, and many more. The alumni network at Iowa is bar none, and there are so many people not only at the college, but also in the field who are there to find the perfect fit post-graduation for every student.

Q: What attributes of the Iowa MHA program prepared you for success in your career?

A: While the curriculum was very comprehensive, the relationships and networking opportunities provided by the College of Public Health were extremely beneficial. No matter what path you decide to take, chances are there’s an Iowa alum who you can connect with to help guide and mentor you.

Q: What has been the greatest challenge facing HCA Houston Healthcare Kingwood in its response to COVID-19?

A: The Year of the Nurse, 2020, was an unprecedented year in health care and in society in general. Keeping our frontline care team safe while caring for our community has been my number one focus as CEO. The market demand for nursing, respiratory therapy, and many other roles has put pressure on the entire global health care system. While things have not been perfect, we have learned a ton. Heading in to 2021, we are focused on continuing our processes to keep our health care heroes safe and to address ongoing resource challenges. HCA Healthcare has done a phenomenal job leveraging our scale to reallocate support and resources across our 180+ hospitals in the US and abroad. Having this support is a tremendous asset, and I am appreciative for all of the help and guidance we get daily.

Q: What role will your health center play in distributing COVID vaccines and encouraging their widespread acceptance?

A: Beginning in December of 2020, we had the great responsibility of distributing the vaccine to our frontline care teams. As 2021 has begun, we have vaccinated more than 12,000 care givers in the Houston area and look forward to continuing to provide this highly valuable resource. My executive team, including myself, all received the vaccine after we were able to ensure our frontline workers had access, and we continue to encourage all to get vaccinated.

Q: How has your health center addressed other major challenges facing the Houston community, including natural disasters and health equity?

A: HCA Healthcare spans across Houston (4th largest metroplex in the country), South Texas, and Corpus Christi, areas that have been adversely impacted by natural disasters, like hurricanes and tropical storms. We stay at a state of constant preparedness and receive world-class support from our partners across the company.

When our colleagues need additional assistance, whether due to the COVID-19 pandemic, natural disasters, or other unplanned burdens, we take care of them through the HCA Hope Fund so they can refocus on caring for our community. In 2019 and 2020, our division raised over $1M for the fund, and I am proud that HCA Houston Healthcare Kingwood was the largest contributor.

In Texas, HCA cares for more patients and provides more uncompensated care than any other system. We exist to provide world-class health care to anyone in need. With a focus on widening our access points, outreach to outlying communities, education, and preventative medicine, our goal is providing increased access to all.

Q: Anything else you would like to add?

A:  I am a proud Hawkeye. The education that was provided to me by the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business and the College of Public Health is a key reason I have been able to achieve my career goals. I remain active on the College of Public Health’s Health Management and Policy Alumni Board, my family provides scholarship opportunities, and I have had the great opportunity to take on multiple Iowa MHA interns to educate them on “systems health care ” and HCA. I have no doubt that if health care administration is the path for you, that the University of Iowa is THE place to be. GO HAWKS!