Get to Know Daniel Huggins, Chief Operating Officer
Urology Austin is excited to welcome Daniel Huggins, our new COO, who joined the UA team on August 7.
How did you become interested in healthcare administration?
I landed in healthcare after earning my degree in psychology. I didn’t know much about healthcare at that time. I was 23, and I started working as the assistant director in housekeeping for Anderson Regional Health System in Meridian, Mississippi, which is where I was from.
In that job, I saw it all, and I learned so much. I managed a team, but also scrubbed floors and even helped with cleaning up a room after a C-Section, which was one of the worst things ever. But these experiences started to teach me firsthand how important support services are, and the employees who staff them.
Housekeeping is essential in so many ways. If infection rates get high, it can drive costs. Being able to provide clean rooms is vital so surgeons can stay on schedule. This job opened my eyes to how incredibly valuable and essential each person is to the organization. That translated into treating everyone equally. From nurses and doctors to housekeeping, everyone’s job matters.
From there, my career eventually took me to Nashville, where Dr. Joesph Webb (CEO of Nashville General Hospital) and Dr. Mark Brown (COO of Nashville General Hospital) mentored me. They nudged me to pursue my Master of Health Administration, and I started to see my niche. I directed the support services operations in Nashville, and with the encouragement of my mentors, I advanced my career with experience as COO at Children’s Medical Group in Mobile, Alabama, and most recently as vice president of physician practice operations at Christus Health in Alexandria, Louisiana.
In addition to my work, I place great value on constant learning. I am currently pursuing my Executive Doctor of Science in healthcare leadership at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
What attracted you to the chief operating officer position at Urology Austin?
I want to continue to take on new challenges and find ways I can make a difference. As soon as I had the chance to interact with the administration team, this felt like a great fit. Mr. Craig (Urology Austin President Craig Ortego) was very open and transparent in telling me that he wanted someone who was ready to get to work, and if you’re not willing to work, don’t come. I understood that. I loved seeing his commitment and how he truly cares for the patients. For example, there are times he is doing personal follow up with patients because he is committed to them. He is leading by example.
Secondly, the environment here feels very warm and welcoming, a supportive, almost family-like environment.
And third, while we treat both women and men, we do a great deal with men’s health. I know I wanted the opportunity to better understand how to promote processes to help in this area. I know this is a great opportunity, and I am excited to get to work.
What is your favorite part of working in the field of healthcare?
I think healthcare is an area where people can truly make a difference for others.
There are so many different components, but creating access to affordable care is so important, and that drives me. There is also a component of educating patients so they can better understand how to access care.
While I work with processes, all the work I do ultimately comes back to how we support the patients. Putting people first and seeing all people as important and valued – that’s what I try to do.
What is your approach to leadership?
I truly care about people as a leader. Qualities I try to emphasize are first, a sense of trust, to know that all people are valued. Second, is being a person of integrity and doing what is right by people consistently. Exhibiting integrity means showing up in big moments, but also showing up for people in small moments where no one may be watching because that is what shapes consistency. Third is compassion, which is how I exhibit to my people that I truly care for them.
I try to be an encourager. I had an employee in Nashville who was in her 60s or 70s, whom I encouraged to go back to get her GED, and she did! I was so proud of her. Ultimately, I try to be a leader who makes a difference not just for an organization, but for individual people. Because each person matters.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I played four years of basketball in college, and I still enjoy working out. I also love the Dallas Cowboys. Really anything sports-related interests me. I also enjoy traveling.
My family is important to me. My dad currently serves as a bishop at First Apostolic Church in Meridian, where my mother also is the pastor. Both my parents have honorary doctorates in divinity. One thing that guides me is my favorite scripture, Proverbs 4:7. It reads, “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore, get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” To me, learning, listening and understanding, all those things lead to wisdom, which is the most important thing.
In addition to my parents, I have four sisters, and I had a brother who passed away. I love spending time with my nephew Zion, and my beautiful niece, Taliyah – they are my pride and joy.