Alumni Spotlight on Chris Mudder
Chris Mudder graduated from Western Oregon University in 2017 with a B.S. in Community Health Education and a minor in Public Policy Administration. He currently works at Oregon Health & Science University as an Administrative Coordinator for the Knight Cancer Institute. Chris helps facilitate daily operations among the 14 different clinics within the Knight Cancer Institute.
Did you see yourself in your current position while you were at WOU?
I imagined running my own healthcare facility while I attended WOU, but I never thought I would be doing this at 22 years old. I didn’t see myself being in this role for another 8-10 years, so to have this opportunity at this stage of my life has been both challenging and rewarding. I’ve always felt a connection with the healthcare field, so that was never a question for me.
While attending WOU, I enjoyed the majority of my classes – so much that I graduated with my undergrad in 3 years. Since I accelerated getting my degree, I was able to enter into the healthcare field a year earlier, and I couldn’t have asked for better timing.
What does a typical day at work look like?
A typical day starts with a daily morning huddle that I lead for all of the clinics here at our facility in Beaverton. I lead this huddle to understand our state of readiness and see what needs to be addressed or escalated to make the facility run. For the rest of the morning, I will work on operation projects and/or solving conflicting staffing issues for our facility. Typical afternoons consist of facility meetings, community outreach planning, and building rounds. No matter how busy I get, I always make sure to connect with every department at some point during the day.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
What I enjoy most about my job is the fact that we are bringing healthcare out into the community. I think healthcare should start in community clinics, such as this, so people are able to act on preventative health measures and routine check-ups. Being able to grow this facility from the 5 original departments to the 14 departments that we have today has been a great learning experience because it has given the community a safe and reliable place for everyone to access their healthcare needs.
My facility is usually described as a “pilot center” or an “innovation center” because of the work that we are doing here. Having the opportunity to be a part of something to this magnitude has been an incredible experience for both my personal growth and my professional career.
What experiences helped prepare you for your professional life?
While attending WOU, I volunteered at the District Attorney’s office in Polk County, working under the Victims of Crimes Department. My main project was creating a policy and procedures manual to help their department run more effectively and efficiently. Even though I was in school and working a part time job, this experience was important because it gave me with a real-world situation where I was responsible for organizing and communicating within a large organization.
In addition to this experience, the biggest thing that helped prepare me for this job/professional life was my internship that I initially got with OHSU. The internship was my foot in the door, and from there, I was able to show my passion for wanting to help others. I was able to network and make lasting connections with individuals who believed in me. This ultimately gave me the confidence (and the means) to pursue healthcare further.
What advice do you have for students?
Do not diminish the education you are receiving from WOU. Even though WOU isn’t an Ivy League school, a private university, or a largely attending research university, WOU has something that none of these other schools are able to offer. They are able to provide students of all backgrounds with a quality education for a realistic price. The degree that students obtain from WOU is a key for unlocking opportunities.
After graduation, the responsibility lies with the students to go out in the world and use what they’ve learned to better themselves and their communities. I firmly believe that ambition and effort go a long way if someone is willing to put in the work. Above all else, do something that you are passionate in. I followed my calling and I know it’s just the beginning of my long career helping people obtain access for all their healthcare needs.