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Fate, personal experiences inspire executive's career in health care

Chuck Spicer, chief executive of OU Medical System, comes to his job in health care via a serendipitous summer in college and a heart-rending experience as a father.
by Paula Burkes Modified: February 16, 2014 at 10:00 am •  Published: February 15, 2014

When he speaks at employee orientations, Chuck Spicer, chief executive of OU Medical System, urges every class of new hires not to forget why they chose to work in health care.

“The industry has become such a business — with a lot of money at stake — that it’s easy to get lost in why you’re in it,” he said.

Spicer needs only to look to his son as a reminder. For the first seven years of his life, his son was in five different hospitals, Spicer, who chooses not share details, said. Today, he’s thriving and playing on his junior high golf team, he said.

“But all those experiences as a patient, or parent of a patient, made me realize why I got into health care,” Spicer said.

The minute he chose the path in college, he knew he wanted to be a hospital CEO, he said, and after his son’s birth, he specifically aspired to head a children’s hospital, he said.

A native Texan, Spicer reached that goal in July 2007, when he became chief executive of Children’s Hospital in Oklahoma City.

Then, in January 2013, he was named chief executive of OU Medical System. In his new role, he serves as CEO of OU Medical Center and oversees the chief executives of Children’s Hospital and OU Medical Center Edmond.

Spicer, 43, sat down with The Oklahoman on Monday to talk about his professional and personal life. This is an edited transcript:

Q: Tell us about your roots.

A: I grew up in Abilene, Texas, where my parents, who are retired, still live. I have three sisters, who are five, seven and eight years older, and also live in Texas. Our father worked as a senior partner in a large accounting firm and our mother, after I graduated high school, worked as a college English professor. My dad is very, very analytical, organized and deliberate, and mom is very social and going all the time. I feel like I have a good blend of their personalities.

Q: What did you like to do as a kid?

A: Sports. Throughout school, I played about all of them. I had moments of glory as the quarterback on my junior high football team. But by high school, tennis was the only sport in which I was competitive. Today, I try to get out on the golf course at least twice a month. My college roommate, who was a scratch golfer, taught me the game.

Q: Where did you go to college? Did you pursue a career in health from the get-go?

A. Baylor. I’d planned to go to the University of Texas — have been a lifelong fan. But my high school girlfriend was dead-set on Baylor. We broke up in January of my senior year, but by then I was committed. I pledged Phi Delta Theta and served as the fraternity rush chairman for two years and another year as secretary or treasurer. I initially planned to go to law school and maybe into politics.

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by Paula Burkes
A 1981 journalism graduate of Oklahoma State University, Paula Burkes has more than 30 years experience writing and editing award-winning material for newspapers and healthcare, educational and telecommunications institutions in Tulsa, Oklahoma...
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Chuck Spicer

•Position: OU Medical Systems, chief executive.

•Birth date and birthplace: June 26, 1970; Abilene, Texas.

•Family: Amy, an oil and gas contractor and wife of three and half years; son, Hamilton, 15, a freshman at Bishop McGuinness High School; daughter, Mallary, 13, a seventh-grader at Classen School of Advanced Studies; and two female blonde labs, Butterscotch and Cloud.

•Education: Baylor University, bachelor’s in business with a minor in political science; Trinity University, master’s in health administration.

•Latest reads: “Presidential Anecdotes” by Paul F. Boller and spy thrillers by novelist Vince Flynn.

•Travel: Annual guys’ golf trip to Reno, Nev., and California beaches and wine country with wife, Amy.


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