On Thursdays, we will highlight an oral history featuring health care leaders who shaped the past and laid the foundation for the future. Since 1978, the AHA has conducted more than 100 interviews as part of this project and transcripts are available in the oral history collection on the AHA’s Resource Center webpage. The following oral history with John W. Bluford III comes from an interview conducted in 2017.

John W. Bluford III, an epidemiologist, administrator, hospital CEO and founder of the Bluford Healthcare Leadership Institute, demonstrated throughout his career that a strong work ethic and commitment to serve can lead to life-fulfilling opportunities. Bluford, bound for medical school, took an unexpected turn in his academic and professional career after being recruited to obtain his master’s in hospital administration on a full ride to Northwestern University. While earning his degree, Bluford worked as an evening and night administrator at Cook County Hospital – two years he remembers as the foundation of his learning to run a hospital through outstanding leaders that served as mentors.

In his interview, Bluford reminisces about lessons learned at each step along his career path, including his time as president and CEO of Truman Medical Centers He shares thoughts on governance, leadership style and shaping corporate culture. He also describes the importance of participation on governing boards, such as the United Way, and talks about his service as the chairman of the AHA Board of Trustees. In addition, he shares information about his current passion – the Bluford Healthcare Leadership Institute. 

To watch a video interview, click here. To read the full oral history transcript, click here.