An Acute Journey
PROVO, Utah – Jun 04, 2018 – Almost every employee has a commute—whether it’s a short drive through neighborhood streets or battling the 101 in Los Angeles. For Phil Harrop, his one-hour-and-45-minute drive takes him along the Snake River, through rural countryside, across a state border, and into a different time zone.
Harrop lives in Nampa, Idaho, and was promoted to president and CEO of Saint Alphonsus Medical Center in Baker City, Oregon, earlier this year after working for five years as executive director and COO for Saint Alphonsus in Nampa.
“When we moved to Idaho, our oldest was going into fifth grade. This fall we will have two teenagers in high school, and we decided it would be best to not uproot them,” explains Harrop, who usually spends Monday and Thursday nights in Baker City, going back to Idaho midweek for system meetings. “When I worked in Washington, DC, earlier in my career, I had a one-way commute that was just as long as my Baker commute,” he says, “only there’s much less traffic in eastern Oregon.”
Harrop’s journey to his current position started as a finance undergrad at BYU. But that was just the first step. He then earned a master of health administration and an MBA from the Ohio State University in 2004. In 2012 he returned to school to earn an MS in public health and a PhD in health services management and policy, also from the OSU.
“My BYU Marriott experience prepared me exceptionally well for graduate school,” he says. “I sensed most of my graduate school peers weren’t challenged as much academically by their undergraduate programs as I was. From a career-application standpoint, BYU Marriott helped me appreciate the importance of accomplishing work in teams and seeking feedback from stakeholders.”
Earning a PhD isn’t a requirement for hospital administration, but it was a goal that was always in the back of Harrop’s mind. “My parents emphasized the importance of education, as did the prophet of my youth, President Gordon B. Hinckley,” he says. “On my mission in Siberia, I had a three-by-five card I kept in my journal. On it I wrote various life goals and objectives. One of those was to obtain a PhD or terminal degree in whatever field I pursued.”
Harrop, who says that his interest in helping others began when he was a teenager working as a lifeguard at a South Carolina lake, now spends his days doing a variety of things, primarily involving communication and decision-making.
“There are many different stakeholders in healthcare: patients and their loved ones, colleagues and vendors, physicians and other providers, board members, and community members and leaders,” he explains. “Balancing our mission of providing care and services with the need to be good stewards of our financial resources is the classic tension, and our hospital and clinics are no different. We are constantly evaluating how to best meet community healthcare needs while staying within budget constraints.”
When Harrop took his new position in Baker City, the hospital was not meeting budget expectations. Within a few months, he was able to get it back on track. “The thing I enjoy most is feeling like I’m making a difference for someone—whether it’s a staff member who needs support, a patient or visitor who I can assist in some small way, or a leader I am coaching,” he says. “Helping people and feeling like value is being added is what brings me the most satisfaction.”
Harrop has also worked as director of the Goshen Center for Cancer Care; executive director of the John Stoddard Cancer Center; and research associate and administrative associate at the OSU’s Wexner Medical Center. As enjoyable as his work is, Harrop says his family is his proudest accomplishment. He often speaks Russian at home, communicating exclusively in his mission language with his two youngest children. Harrop and his wife, Heidi Roberts Harrop, who earned her finance degree from BYU a year before her husband, have six children.
“She was a great tutor!” he says. “We now talk about our family finances, investments, and managing life with six children more than we talk about work. When it comes to stressful decisions or big career discussions, Heidi is the best counselor and sounding board.”
Media Contact: Jordan Christiansen (801) 422-8938
Writer: Emily Edmonds