The hallmark of a great leader is not only encouraging staff to perform to the best of their abilities, but it begins with one’s own ability to inspire trust in others, according to Steven Foster, Edinburg Regional Medical Center’s newest Chief Operations Officer.
Leadership is an art rather than a science, and requires skills you can’t get in a classroom, says Foster, 34, who began his position as COO in July.
“A leader will quickly find out he or she cannot do it alone. His successes are dependent upon everyone else being successful in their roles,” Foster said. “You have to be efficient and effective, and that’s where a true operations officer comes to merit. It’s making sure you have the right cost controls in place. It’s thinking ‘I have 350,000 square feet of hospital that has to be ready for patients, physicians and families’. That is a typical daily routine.”
Foster says it’s equal parts talent, as well as modeling the three core values emphasized by South Texas Health System, which includes treating everyone from patients to family and visitors as guests; showing how teamwork can be displayed in a variety of settings; and showing professionalism in all aspects of the job.
“It’s important to stress these values with all staff so we live up to our commitment to our community to provide outstanding health care and achieve patient satisfaction,” Foster said. “Patient satisfaction is the cornerstone of a hospitals success. That’s why we’re here, to serve and support our communities.”
The desire to succeed was instilled at an early age by his mother, who taught him family values and challenged him in all aspects of his life, according to Foster, who explained the formula for his success.
“Once you have the family values that form the working DNA, then you have to pair it with mentors along the way, and model your own management persona based on attributes that made them successful,” Foster said. “I had several (mentors) in my career starting at MD Anderson, and, in each progressive position, I picked a role model I hoped to be like.”
Foster was born in Mexico City, and raised in Houston. He holds a master’s in Healthcare Administration and a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Houston and a BS in Biology and Chemistry from Sam Houston State University.
Foster’s professional background includes a progressive career at University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, including Joint Commission Specialist from 2000 to 2004, Chemical Safety Officer from 2004 to 2006, Administrative Fellow, and Clinical Business Manager from 2006 to 2007.
He worked for International Hospital Corporation and served as chief executive officer of CIMA Hospital in Hermosillo, Mexico and chief operating officer of CIMA San Jose, Costa Rica before arriving in the Valley.
His major accomplishments while abroad, include receiving Joint Commission International accreditation for both hospitals.
Foster began his tenure at McAllen Medical Center as Associate Administrator, prior to his capacity as COO at Edinburg Regional Hospital. He is a Green Belt in Six Sigma and a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives.
“You have to love what you’re doing to be successful in any role. For example, I come to work every day with physicians and clinicians that challenge me. That type of environment motivates me to be the very best I can be professionally,” Foster said. “My advice to young professionals is to follow your passion and make sure that what you achieved yesterday forms the stepping stone to what you can achieve in the future.
“Finally, it’s important to recognize that past success does not necessarily mean future success, so you have to challenge yourself every day,” Foster said.