Up & Comers - 2013
VP, Policy and Advocacy, America's Essential Hospitals
Maybe Beth Feldpush's training in ballet is where she developed the poise that people say is one of her best traits as a healthcare leader.
Feldpush, 37, is currently on maternity leave (she and her husband, Rajiv Verma, are parents to daughter Dahlia, 3½, and newborn son Declan) from her position as senior vice president of policy and advocacy at America's Essential Hospitals, which represents the nation's safety net providers.
Dr. Bruce Siegel, AEH's president and CEO, served as chairman of the dissertation committee when Feldpush was a doctoral candidate at George Washington University, where she earned a doctorate of public health in health policy four years ago. Siegel says Feldpush impressed him then for being poised and assertive in a positive way. “She is a triple threat,” says Siegel, who nominated Feldpush to become a 2013 Modern Healthcare Up & Comer. “She knows healthcare finance. She knows healthcare quality. And she is a crack communicator. It's a very potent combination.”
Feldpush, an only child and a native of the southeastern Pennsylvania town of Thornton, went to high school in nearby Wilmington, Del., where her interest in healthcare began. Her school required students to shadow a local professional, and Feldpush chose to spend time with her friend's mother, who worked in the policy department at Planned Parenthood in Delaware. Later, she had aspirations to attend medical school, but soon realized she had a greater interest in public health.
After earning a bachelor's degree summa cum laude in women's health from the University of Richmond in 1998, Feldpush spent two years in government affairs and public relations at the American Medical Women's Association in Reston, Va. She says she was drawn by the association's purpose. “The advocacy mission was very much public health-focused,” Feldpush says. “Once I was there, that was it. I was hooked on the policy work.”
She soon developed her skills and interests into what has become an extensive public policy career in a relatively short amount of time. After the AMWA, Feldpush worked for six years at the Government Accountability Office, first as a healthcare analyst and later as a senior healthcare analyst.
“Everyone getting a master's degree in public health needs to be at the GAO for a year or two,” says Feldpush, who earned a master's degree from the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health in May 2001. “Particularly when you're younger in your career, it's a great environment for teaching you how to think, how to write, how to analyze information quantitatively and qualitatively,” she adds.
One of the best examples of Feldpush's leadership skills came recently when America's Essential Hospitals underwent a rebranding after years as the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems. According to Siegel, Feldpush encouraged her colleagues to look ahead and realize that after the Affordable Care Act's provisions are well in place, people will ask why the country still needs a safety net. He says the law won't change the need for the essential services that the organization's members provide—such as training the next generation of physicians and caring for the chronically ill—and Feldpush was instrumental in crafting that message.