Alumni Profile: Ronald W. Holder, Jr. MHA Class of 1998

July 09, 2019

Ronald W. Holder, Jr.
Vice-President of the Temple Region for Baylor Scott & White Health


Ron Holder, an alumnus of the Master of Health Administration program, was recently named to the Board of Directors of the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME), the national accrediting body for healthcare management programs. A past chair of the Medical Group Management Association Board of Directors, and a Fellow in both the American College of Healthcare Executives and the American College of Medical Practice Executives, his career has exemplified leadership through service. But how did he get his start in health administration? And what advice does he have for future health leaders?


A native of Glasgow, Ky., Holder realized during his undergraduate education at UK that he was interested in working in health care. Seeking a professional future that would combine his analytical abilities with a natural inclination toward leadership, Holder chose the Master of Health Administration program as preparation for a career in health administration.


“I knew I liked healthcare, and I started around the beginning of my senior year of college to seek ways I could work in healthcare that would leverage my analytical skills. I’ve always enjoyed the concept of continuous improvement whether it be processes or mentoring and coaching people.”


Today, Holder leads more than 700 people at Baylor Scott & White Health in Texas. He is currently responsible for executive leadership of the practices of more than 230 physicians, 90 advanced practice professionals, and multiple hospital functions. He is also the cardiovascular service line administrator for the Central Texas Division of Baylor Scott & White Health. As an executive, Holder has an eye on the bottom line, but also spends much of his time nurturing the human component of health systems.


“I spend at least half my day interacting, managing, coaching or working with people and nurturing relationships,” said Holder, who credits his MHA training for his ability to work with and manage teams of professionals.


“Working in teams is incredibly important in management and executive leadership. The benefit of a team-based project during the MHA program is not the finished product, but learning how to hold peers and colleagues accountable even when you don’t have direct authority. In healthcare, influence is a far better tool to have than authority if you want a positive culture.”


“Some people skills are things you have to learn on the job,” Holder continues, “but I had all the other building blocks from my time in the MHA program…finance, economics, health law, and policy.”


“Professors in the MHA program were really interested in making sure that the students got what they needed. The quality of the teaching, the program, and the professors were top-notch.”


Throughout his career, even Holder’s hobbies have involved leadership—as a coach for Upward Basketball and as a Boy Scout leader.


“I tend to do my best mentoring and coaching one-on-one or in small huddles,” said Holder. “I enjoy pulling information out of people that they didn’t know they had to get to solutions. While solving problems that arise in healthcare is satisfying, it’s even more enjoyable helping people learn how to problem solve.”


On his way to his current post at Baylor Scott & White Health, Holder also spent five years as the administrator of the University of Louisville Department of Anesthesiology and more than four years in progressive roles with the University of Kentucky Department of Surgery. In fact, he took on the role with UK HealthCare while completing his MHA. That is how, at only 25, he found himself serving as interim administrator of a department.


So, what is Holder’s advice to current and future students?


“Find a combination of what brings you joy and what you’re good at. Try stuff! Little failures aren’t the end of the world; they’re learning experiences you can build on. Do it, learn it, master it–worry about the money later,” said Holder.


“Surround yourself with great people, help them grow, and pay it forward. Most of all, help build the next generation of leaders once you’re out there, because someone helped you get where you are.”