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Weed ACH officer becomes ACHE fellow

Military personnel responding to an email Army Maj. Kathryn Buckland, the chief of the resource management division for Weed Army Community Hospital responds to emails May 5 at the Dr. Mary E. Walker Center on Fort Irwin, California. Buckland became a fellow of the American College for Healthcare Executives in March 2021 (Photo by: Kimberly Hackbarth, Weed Army Community Hospital).

Army Maj. Kathryn Buckland, the chief of the resource management division for Weed Army Community Hospital at Fort Irwin, California is the type of person who accomplishes whatever goals she sets.

From being high school valedictorian to placing first in the female category in a triathlon on Fort Irwin to becoming a fellow of the American College for Healthcare Executives, she, knows how to push herself without burning out and credits her determination and the military for giving her the necessary skills to achieve her goals.

According to Buckland, ACHE is a professional society for healthcare administrators, managers, and executives who lead hospitals whether in the private sector, nonprofit, or Department of Defense.

"It's on par with other professional requirements and board certifications that we're used to seeing doctors and other clinical professionals obtain," she explained.

Some of the requirements to become an ACHE Fellow include earning a master's degree, having five years of healthcare management experience to include holding an executive healthcare management position, completing at least 36 continuing education hours with 12 of those being face-to-face education, four volunteer activities, obtaining two references from current fellows, and passing the Board of Governors Exam in Healthcare Management.

One of Buckland's references came from Maj. Nathan Kiser, the deputy commander for administration for Weed ACH, who passed the Board of Governors Exam in Healthcare Management to become a fellow in 2018.

"She is a strong healthcare executive already," said Kiser. "Endorsing her...wasn't a question, it was really more of a privilege to do that for her just knowing her background, what she'd already done and then what she'll continue to do for both the college and for the Army and healthcare as a whole."

By completing the process to become a fellow, individuals learn not only how to run a health care organization in a safe, equitable, efficient, patient-centered manner, but also earn a prestigious distinction, according to Kiser.

"It's also a signal to other healthcare executives that this individual has gone above and beyond understanding their craft," he said. "Rather than just working there, you've achieved a level of excellence that...a very small amount of people in the healthcare executive world ever really achieve."

Buckland said she took on the challenge not just to benefit herself, but also her organization.

Military health personnel posing for a picture after running a triathlon
Army Maj. Kathryn Buckland, the chief of the resource management division for Weed Army Community Hospital, poses for a photo April 3, 2021, after placing first in the female category in a triathlon on Fort Irwin, California. Buckland trained for the triathlon while pursuing a fellowship with the American College for Healthcare Executives, which she earned in March 2021 (Photo by: Army PFR Gower Liu, Weed Army Community Hospital).

"I think it displays your commitment to the healthcare management field, demonstrating that you've got the knowledge and skills that will benefit your organization as a whole," she said. "It also increases your marketability when you start to transition [out of the military]."

Achieving fellow status did not come easily for Buckland, but the Army helped her better prioritize her time and not wear herself out, she said.

Buckland spent many early mornings and late night studying for the exam, but acknowledged that studying was only one of her multiple jobs on top of being a military officer, the chief of resource management, and a mom, she said.

"Even though I would stay up late, I couldn't stay up all night because I had two little guys waiting for me the next morning," she said.

Kiser praised Buckland's ability to take on so many tasks responsibly.

"It's a testament to her skill in being able to manage time, manage an organization's budget, while also taking care of kids and also doing everything else that was going on in her life at the time," he said.

Becoming a fellow isn't the end of the journey for Buckland.

In order to maintain fellow status, individuals must recertify every three years by completing a minimum of 36 continuing education hours or retaking the exam.

"There's a lot of additional continuing education credits, so you're really on the cutting edge of what's going on not just in DOD, but in the healthcare industry to bring back to your unit," Buckland said.

Looking back on the last three years, Buckland said the process to become a fellow was an investment in herself.

"It was definitely worth all the early morning studying, late night studying, and staying the course the last three years to get to this final end state," she said.

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