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New Face: Kurt Houser

Mentoring future health care leaders is a priceless opportunity, according to this Community Health Sciences faculty member.

People  |  Dec 11, 2017  |  By Jorge Labrador
Portrait of Kurt Houser


Kurt J. Houser, School of Community Health Sciences (Josh Hawkins/UNLV Creative Services)




Kurt Houser’s health care career kicked off after completing his MBA and joining the Navy Medical Service Corps. It has brought him through large and small hospitals and medical systems and now he draws on his experience to teach and advise in the School of Community Health Sciences’ (SCHS) health care administration and policy department (HCA).


UNLV gave me the opportunity to use my 25 years of health care executive experience to better prepare future health care administration leaders for their careers. It's a mentoring experience that is remarkably rewarding; and priceless for this stage in my career/life.

What about UNLV strikes you as different from other places you have worked or where you went to school?

The ability to be independent, but still share in the collaborative process toward our school's goals. I've noticed in the SCHS a collegiality that allows for independent thought, while having a supportive peer group of educators to help in any situation. Dean (Shawn) Gerstenberger and Dr. (Christopher) Cochran are remarkably supportive of our team.

Where did you grow up and what was that like?

I grew up in Pittsburgh, PA. My father was a steel worker and my mother a secretary. My parents were blue-collar with a strong work ethic. It was a tough time as the steel industry in Pittsburgh shuttered and many, including my father, lost their jobs. Growing up not having much money makes it easier to be grateful for what you have, and to value relationships and experiences over material goods.

What is your current job title?

Visiting lecturer. I hope, as the intern coordinator for undergraduate and graduate HCA students, that I'm better preparing leaders in our industry.

What is the biggest challenge in your field?

Constant change. As a country, and within our industry, we continue to be uncertain as to the proper equilibrium among cost, quality, and access. Incentives, for both patients and providers to attain better heath, remain ill defined.

Tell us about a time in your life when you have been daring.

I accepted a Navy commission right out of graduate school, with no experience for what that would entail. Although the most daring, it was the best professional decision I ever made. I didn't think the Navy could give me a career, but it did. The leaders and mentors I served with made all the difference as it applied to my definition of career success.

What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?

I'm an introvert. Being a health care executive and an instructor requires me to work outside my comfort zone, therefore I've had to grow accustomed to and develop tools that allow me to be an extrovert when needed.

Any tips for success?

Only you can define your meaning of success. Find your passion and follow it. Many people chase money; but time is really our most valuable resource. For me, how I spend my time and who I spend it with determines if I'm living successfully.