Alumni Spotlight: Ashley Emans, UF MHA Class of 2011

By Sara A. Mayo

Ashley C. Emans, UF MHA Class of 2011

Ashley C. Emans, MHA, LSSBB, FACHE, recognizes that most successes start with well led beginnings.

As the Radiology Business Manager at UF Health Jacksonville, Ashley Emans covers the administrative functions for sixteen diagnostic and interventional departments, including revenue cycles, supply chain management, capital equipment, contracting, patient access and referrals, data analysis and reporting, and employee supervision.

She is also President-Elect of the North Florida Association for Healthcare Quality.

Emans has helmed several key capital projects, such as the additions of CT suites, several MR suites, and a biplane, accomplishments for which she holds an immense amount of pride.

“It starts as nothing more than an idea and some papers. A few months later, we have a room full of professionals doing high-stakes work on a patient, and it’s satisfying to know I made that happen,” says Emans.

An area of her leadership role she most enjoys, however, is the opportunity to onboard and integrate new employees and mentees.

Ensuring new hires and mentees succeed in their roles is an area she chooses to put a lot of time and effort into, she states. “I do this because I can honestly say that the successes I have had in my career are a direct result of being led well at the beginning. Now, I get to do that for other people.”

One such invaluable piece of advice she continues to pass along, she learned during her time in residency.

“I was told to stay at the ‘top of the funnel’ for as long as you can; seek out roles with wide scopes that would make you a generalist, rather than a specialist … My first two roles after residency were system-level roles in quality and then IT, and now I am in clinical operations. I have a lot of different things on my resume, and that gives me more possibilities now.”

During her time as a UF MHA student, Emans found that the site visits, lectures from guest speakers, and rigorous curriculum helped her to consider the multiple career paths she could take with her degree. Frequently practicing public speaking throughout the program has also proven to be a significant asset for Emans’ career. “Now working with other MHAs, I realize not every program is as experiential [as the UF MHA program]”.

With an undergraduate degree in English from the University of Florida, Emans had first planned to attend law school, and completed two summer internships in Washington, DC. A volunteer experience at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, however, ultimately changed her career trajectory.

She appreciates that her exposure to the liberal arts in her earlier years allows her to organically integrate these aspects into her professional life. She enjoys writing about health care policy and is even learning screenwriting to keep her mind well-rounded.

“I believe we are all creatives, whether we identify as such or not. You create experiences for employees or patients, you co-create conversations, you create a home and a workspace, you created an outfit this morning after waking up. The sturdier your identity, the less chance you are going to be thrown off course by an external crisis. Chekhov was perhaps the greatest playwright of all time, and he was also a physician. Why do one thing?”

Left: Emans as a first year UF MHA student attending ACHE Congress in Chicago. Right: Fourteen years later, Emans accomplishes her goal of earning the FACHE designation. (Taken from LinkedIn)

Likewise, she reminds aspiring healthcare leaders that the physical demands of executive roles are also not to be underestimated and can be surprisingly fast paced.

“Some days, I walk three to four miles moving among buildings,” Emans explains. “Pilates and running give me the endurance needed. I have seen some people’s careers be limited because they cannot or will not do what it takes to keep up with the physical demands of the bigger jobs.”

“You will notice many top executives are very disciplined in their diets, fitness, and health routines… they need this to consistently perform their job duties. We are sort of like athletes,” she explains.

Further, Emans recommends those in leadership roles take time to know themselves honestly. Studying attachment styles and trauma responses within themselves will help leaders to recognize when these forces come into play amongst others on their team.

“Taking on more leadership invites more scrutiny. Really tend to your own mental health and resilience first, so you can hold space for others. The higher up you move, the more weight your words have. Get clear on why you make the decisions you do, and work to reconcile your subconscious motivations with your conscious mind, because there is no hiding at the top… Know that people will hang on your every word as a leader, so you need to be exact.”

Most of all, Emans believes the integrity behind a leadership position should be upheld through actions of resilience, honesty, and determination.

Well-led at the beginning from her own father, she cautions, “a great piece of advice I got from my dad growing up is, ‘If you always tell the truth, you never have to remember what you said.’ “