Magazine Feature / People

Retired surgeon leads new health care program

Allan Kortz (MHS ’99) isn’t good at retirement. The general and chest surgeon stopped practicing clinical medicine after more than 35 years in 1994 but he says not working made him “almost feel guilty.”

“I thought, ‘there’s so much I can contribute. I don’t want to waste it,’” Kortz says.

A year into retirement, he took a course at DU’s University College called Vertically Integrated Healthcare Systems and liked it so much he decided to go for his master’s in the now defunct health care organization and systems program.

“I learned a lot about the business side of health care [that] a lot of physicians [like myself] didn’t know much about.”

And the self-described “lifetime learner” is now encouraging others. He has helped develop the master’s program in health care leadership at University College, which starts this fall.

The program he went through himself in the 1990s “resembled an MBA,” Kortz explains. “There was a lot of finance involved. It was focused more on business and the structural side of health care.”

“This [new degree plan] is going to have more to do with current health care,” Kortz says. The program is marketed to nurses, physicians, other health care professions and those outside the industry,” he explains.

There are three concentrations within the program: health care policy, law and ethics; medical and health care information technologies; and strategic management of health care systems.

Because of his efforts, Kortz, has been named the program’s director, a position he arrived at by taking an “unusual route.”

Kortz is part of a group of health care executives that has met monthly for the past ten years. The group, by chance, ran into some people associated with University College in one of their meetings. “I introduced myself as an alumnus of University College,” he says. He talked with some people that were entertaining the idea of a health care program and said he’d think of some suggestions himself.

“I spoke with [University College Dean] Jim Davis and made some suggestions and he basically said, ‘Why don’t you develop the program?’”

He says he’s excited about the new program, which will start in September 2009.

“It’s a great program and very timely,” he says. “With the economy the way it is, the health care field is quite attractive. Health care itself is dynamic, however, a career in health care is stable.”

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