University of Arkansas

Walton College

The Sam M. Walton College of Business

An Interview with Dr. Eric Spann (Walton MBA ’23, LSU M.D. ’91)

Dr. Eric Spann (Walton MBA '23, LSU M.D. '91)
January 30, 2023  |  By Ariel Sibley

Share this via:

Dr. Eric Spann  sat down with Walton MBA Insider to discuss his experience as a healthcare consultant, how his time in the Walton MBA program has empowered him to further pursue his passions, and what steps he takes to ‘do it all’. 

Focusing on wellness, accountable care, and physician leadership, Spann is inspirational in his pursuit of personal integrity in both his professional and personal life. He is committed to demonstrating the principles of continued health and wellness that he teaches his patients, through his continued activism on the Physician Advisory Council, training for the latest Ironman Triathlon, and prioritizing quality time with his family. 

MBA Insider: What are your responsibilities as a healthcare consultant with Transformation Health? 

I am beginning healthcare consulting as a sideline to complement and transition from my full-time practice, medical directorship, and health system physician leadership responsibilities with Baxter Health System. In addition to taking care of patients of all ages, I do mission work in the developing world in the South Pacific. As medical director, I am responsible for medical policy, implementation, and leadership for a medical group of 20 providers and their practices. In physician leadership, I advise the CEO and clinic senior leadership on opportunities and pitfalls of rural outpatient medical services in a rapidly emerging market.

Dr. Spann volunteering as a missionary

Why did you decide to pursue an MBA?

I’ve been in leadership for 15 years, and have always had an entrepreneurial spirit. I want to keep growing as I mature into the last half of life. An MBA seemed to be the next obvious step to help me develop some new mental muscles and learn the science of industry. Health care is the biggest industry in the United States, and I want to help shape medical care into health care. There isn’t enough money in the world to pay for the healthcare needs of the generations that will retire between 2020 and 2080, and I want to be part of the solution, in whatever way that I can.

Also, I wanted a real education, not an online simile and a piece of paper. I loved Sam Walton and all that he stood for in business. I’m no mathematician, but 2 + 2 still equals 4. Bingo! Sam M. Walton College of Business.

What has been the most transformative part of the program for you?  

Corporate finance, hands down. It was like an entire new world of reality opened up to me in the first class with Dr. Jandik. For me, in healthcare leadership, it was analogous to that moment when Einstein understood that time, space, and matter were all interwoven. After that class, 70% of all that I had formerly been ignorant to regarding the way the world and business connect made a lot more sense.

How has the program elevated your skill set and/or enhanced your leadership abilities? 

Networking and appreciating the input of others in teamwork has elevated my skill set. I’m the old guy in most of my classes, but I learn something new from the next generation(s) every time. Hopefully, I motivate the youngsters, too. I have enjoyed the push to study, read, and memorize, which has opened up old neurological channels that might have started to rust otherwise.

As an active participant in Ironman triathlons, how have you been able to balance work, school, family, and training? 

You don’t get time for the things that matter, you MAKE time. If you wait to find time for those things they’ll always be just out of reach. Balance is that very difficult thing of getting all your priorities for today and the future lined up in harmony, while learning to say “no” to the things that don’t matter. Committing to big things gets you to clarify your priorities rather than decide upon them.

Margin in my calendar has not been easy to come by, but my wife never stops helping me reign it in. We all get 24 hours a day, 168 hours a week. Thirty-two of those hours are disposable—and that’s a lot of time.  

I made a choice on March 9, 2020, that whatever came during the pandemic, I was going to get fitter, lose a few nagging pounds, be stronger than before, and improve my mind and ability to serve. So I started an MBA, a YouTube channel, a podcast, and leveled my head. I’ve never regretted one minute of my exercise, study, or disciplined choices. But you have to make them daily, day-after-day, for years to get the results that only hard daily choices bring.

Dr. Spann cycling in the Iron Man Triathlon

The triathlon was the outgrowth of being a doctor that focuses on health and longevity and trying to live what I preach. When I was 33, I lost 30 pounds and decided to stop being a hypocritical doctor with my diet and exercise. “Physician, heal thyself.” I found four things that I could do for the rest of my life that were scientifically proven to increase the quality and quantity of life. They went together as swim/bike/run. Boom. Triathlon (plus sensible resistance training). 

My wife and I spend tons of time together and I get more sleep than is necessary. There is enough time to do all the things that you are supposed to do—with grace and margin.

What are your favorite topics to explore?

Leadership and resilience are my favorite study hobbies. When performance is on the line, everything descends from leadership, and performance is determined by resilience and habit. I love the works of John Maxwell, Jim Collins and Steven Covey because they put into words the difference in the company well led, and the life well-lived--according to principles. The podcasts and audiobooks I listen to are mostly from Chuck Swindoll and Adrian Rogers. I try to use those 32 disposable hours a week wisely by avoiding social media (except LinkedIn). We all should read about 10 times more and pick up those LED-lit masters of ours about 10 times less. 

Ariel SibleyAriel Sibley is the marketing and communications coordinator for the Sam M. Walton College of Business MBA programs. She received her undergraduate degree in marketing management from the University of Arkansas and completed the Walton Executive MBA program in 2015 with a focus on entrepreneurship. Sibley worked as a merchandise financial planner and buyer in apparel at Walmart before joining the MBA programs at the University of Arkansas.

Walton College

Walton College of Business

Since its founding at the University of Arkansas in 1926, the Sam M. Walton College of Business has grown to become the state's premier college of business – as well as a nationally competitive business school. Learn more...

The Walton MBA

Welcome to Walton MBA Insider! Join us here or subscribe to our monthly newsletter for regular student, alumni, faculty, corporate partner and community features. We would love to hear from you! Visit our website or contact us directly at (479) 575-2851 to learn more about the Full-Time and Executive MBA programs at Walton College.

Walton MBA Walton Executive MBA

Subscribe to the MBA Insider

Subscribe to the MBA Insider Newsletter

Recent Posts

Grace Crain (Walton MBA '23 and Homecoming Queen '21)

Walton MBA Student Grace Crain Hands Off Her Homecoming Crown

2021 Homecoming Queen Grace Crain (Walton MBA ‘23) handed off her crown to fellow Little Rock native Karlie Barnett at the Arkansas vs. Liberty Homecoming football game this year. Grace sat down with Walton MBA Insider to discuss her homecoming experience and what it means to be a leader, a role model and a Razorback.

December 5, 2022 | By Ariel Sibley

Raleigh Woods posing with SpaceX sign

MBA Graduate Reaches New Heights at SpaceX

Raleigh Woods (MBA ’22) secured a full-time position with SpaceX after graduating from the Walton MBA program. She will be working as a sourcing specialist supporting Starlink in the Seattle, WA area.

September 1, 2022 | By Lori Speer