A conversation with Tammy Williams, M.H.A.
UF College of Medicine chief operating officer discusses her role and vision for the college
Dec. 16, 2022 — In 2021, Tammy Williams, M.H.A., was named the chief operating officer for the UF College of Medicine. Williams caught up with Dr. Gator to discuss her career, vision for the college and life outside of work.
Q: Tell us about your background and your career path.
A: I started my career at the University of Florida and have been in health and academic medicine since I was 18 years old. I wore many hats early in my career. I started in the mailroom and moved into insurance billing, then on to insurance follow-up, compliance work in the clinics, surgery scheduling and revenue cycle. I left UF in 1998 and moved to Dallas to work at the University of Texas Southwestern in compliance and spent almost two years there before moving to the University of South Florida, where I managed all of the specialty clinics.
I came back to Gainesville in 2006 and worked at UF Health Physicians as a reimbursement liaison before moving to the department of neurosurgery in 2009. I joined the College of Medicine Office of Finance and Administration in 2011 and was promoted to budget director in 2016. I held that position for five years before being named COO.
At each step along the way, going all the way back to when I was 18, I made sure I was taking what I was learning and using it in the next step of my career. I also had amazing mentors and co-workers who I learned from and collaborated with. It was having all these “building blocks” on both the clinical side and the financial budgeting side that got me to where I am today. From the beginning health care became more than a job to me, it became my home. It’s been a great journey!
Q: Could you tell us a little bit about your new role?
A: The chief operating officer is a new position within the College of Medicine. I work closely with Scott Sumner, the college’s chief financial officer. By nature, the two positions are intertwined — the operations division casts a very broad net and everything within finance has an operational component to it. We are united and have the same goals. Our offices are even next to each other, which is great because we truly collaborate between the finance and operations sides.
I see my job as being service-oriented, with a focus on helping both the organization and the dean meet their goals. My role also involves working with our regional programs and the hospital to make sure the whole enterprise is in alignment operationally and financially. Right now, Scott and I are working on a large-scale initiative to elevate the performance of all finance and administration services to be aligned with the dean’s strategic plan pillars and ensure success and future growth for the college.
Q: What is the most rewarding aspect of what you do?
A: There are so many things I love about my job, but at the highest level, it is the impact this role has in reaching across all our missions, whether in research, education, working with employees or assisting with the clinical component. I also get to see the growth from where we were 20 years ago and where we are now and the incredible things we have achieved. I get to make a difference by bringing my experience to the table to solve problems, be strategic and help influence the next generation.
My approach to work, and to life really, is all about building and maintaining good relationships. People remember how you make them feel. At the end of the day, I want people to feel that I listen to them and support them. As a leader, this approach is very important to me and also extremely rewarding because I have built wonderful relationships throughout the College of Medicine, UF and UF Health Shands communities.
Q: You have been part of the UF and UF Health family for 26 years. What has contributed to your longevity here?
A: I did leave UF for a period of eight years, and during that time I finished my master’s in health care administration from the University of Central Florida. I never thought I would have the opportunity to return to UF but when I was recruited for a position, my family was very excited to come back to Gainesville. My husband, Chris, and I met in Gainesville and had developed a great community of friends and found Gainesville to be a wonderful place to raise children.
But the biggest factor behind why I have been here so long is all that is happening with the College of Medicine. I love my job, I love the college and I am very excited by the changes Dean Koch is implementing. This career has kept me really engaged and I am personally invested in the strategic initiatives. I want to see us rise in the rankings. Having worked for other academic medical institutions, I couldn’t imagine working again for anyone besides the University of Florida.
Q: Tell us about your family and how you spend your free time.
A: My husband I have been married for 20 years, and we have two wonderful daughters here in Gainesville — Madelin, who is a freshman in college, and Greylin, who is a freshman in high school. We also have two cats and two border collies. As a family, we have found the University of Florida community to provide great opportunities outside of academics. Madelin was a competitive cheerleader for many years and used to attend cheer clinics at UF. She and my husband are huge Gators sports fans. Greylin is into drama and computer science, so there are a lot of opportunities in our community for those interests.
Outside of work, I love to paint, decorate interiors, remodel and refurbish furniture. When my family members need help decorating their houses, I am the first one they call. I have refurbished everything from cabinets and buffets to dining room tables. It is great to take something a little worn and make it your own, make it special and really see it come to life.