09:11 AM

MBA, PhD Alum Achieves New Chief Executive Role

Darin Tankersley_WithBlue

Bellevue University alumnus Darin Tankersley continues to climb in his healthcare management career, now in a new executive role.

Tankersley, 44, was recently named Chief of Medical Center Administration and Operations at the Permanente Medical Group, where he’s worked since 2008.

The Northern California native knew he was destined to work in healthcare, even though he’s followed a roundabout route. 

“It’s kind of in the blood,” says Tankersley, noting that his entire immediate family holds various roles in the healthcare industry.

After playing college football and earning a business degree, Tankersley took his chance to play professionally in the National Indoor Football League. His tenure included two-year stints in Bosie, Idaho, and Kearney, Nebraska.

Knowing his professional sports days were numbered, Tankersley studied for his radiology license on the side. 

As fate would have it, he was hired at a medical imaging company in Kearney that eventually opened a satellite office in Bellevue. He decided to make the move.

“I would drive past Bellevue University on my way to work every single day,” Tankersley says.

As he started considering next steps to further his education, the choice was clear. He enrolled in Bellevue University’s MBA program. Soon after, California called.

“I quickly became an online student,” says Tankersley, who was thrilled to head back to his home state with an opportunity to expand his healthcare career.

He took his first job at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Group as assistant director of imaging services, and he’s been invested there ever since.

Over the past 12 years, Tankersley has added responsibilities and accolades to his resume, including overseeing medical center operations and organizational strategy across multiple 24/7 departments and campuses.

A turning point for Tankersley came as he was transitioning into his first executive role. Around the same time, he noticed Bellevue University launched its first doctoral program, a Ph.D. in Human Capital Management.

“I was intrigued,” he says. “Human capital is definitely my wheelhouse and the topic I wanted to study.”

Despite his growing duties at work, Tankersley decided to jump into the online program with both feet. He was one of 20 students who proudly pioneered the inaugural cohort.

Aside from the rigorous coursework and many late nights, his classmates and professors are what he remembers most.

“The knowledge, the leadership, and the availability of the faculty and staff was unbelievable,” he says. “The smaller class sizes allowed me to get to know my peers and lean on them.”

An 18-credit hour dissertation caps the Ph.D. program. Tankersley focused his research on a topic near to his heart: avoiding workplace burnout.

“It’s so prevalent in the healthcare field, whether you're a physician, a nurse, a technologist, or an administrator,” he says.

Combining his coursework and research, Tankersley enjoyed instant gratification. He was able to apply what he was learning immediately to his role as an assistant medical group administrator managing hundreds of employees and a dozen departments.

Looking back on his education, Tankersley says having both an MBA and Ph.D. has unlocked doors and helped his career “tremendously.” 

In his current chief executive role, Tankersley now supports nearly 40,000 staff and 9,000 physicians. Every day, he’s focused on driving care delivery strategy that positively impacts the surrounding communities.

“That’s what’s so exciting about this position, being able to support the front-line physicians and staff who are taking care of sick patients and helping people to live healthier lives,” he says.

He also appreciates the variety that comes with his role, covering everything from clinical operations and human resources to employee wellness.

Working in a 24/7 healthcare environment, Tankersley often logs long and unconventional hours, which takes a toll physically and mentally. 

“I try my best to practice what I preach about burnout,” he says. “For me, it’s working out, getting some of that stress out, and unplugging when I can.”

For others considering a career in healthcare, Tankersley is a strong advocate -- as long there’s a sense of calling.

“What you want is something beyond a career,” he says. “You want that sense of, ‘This is what I’m here to do.’”

Employment trends look promising for medical and health services managers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, opportunities in this industry are expected to grow by 32 percent over the next decade.

With favorable job prospects and great pay, healthcare occupations remain an attractive option. Tankersley agrees, especially for those with a heart to help and calling to serve.

“I really wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. That’s why I gravitated toward healthcare. It’s a rare thing in my opinion when you get to say, ‘I helped save someone’s life today.’”