He’s been a CEO, a president and the chairman of many boards. He’s overseen operations of and managed multiple community hospitals in Central Florida. But now, he’s taken on a new challenge – teaching students within the Department of Health Management and Informatics at UCF.

After close to two decades of working for Orlando Health, Shannon Elswick has joined the HMI faculty as a lecturer and an executive in residence. In this new role, Elswick will not only teach the future leaders of the health care industry; he will develop strategic partnerships between the department and the local health care community.

Elswick’s relationship with the HMI department originally began before he retired from Orlando Health a few years ago, when he started teaching as an adjunct instructor. Although he was serving as the senior vice president of acute care services for Leading Edge Healthcare in Orlando, he was interested in finding an opportunity to further leverage his knowledge and years of experience. So when he heard about the open executive in residence position, he jumped at the opportunity.

“I feel very fortunate to have been given the chance to join this team and offer what I can to enhance this terrific program,” Elswick said in an email. “I go to work now with talented and creative individuals who are focused on the opportunities we have to enrich the educational experiences for our students.”

As the department’s executive in residence, Elswick will develop programs and enhance partnership connections between the department and local businesses and health care providers. He said that the goal of building these connections is to create meaningful fellowship and leadership opportunities for students.

The other goal of Elswick’s work is to help students “learn how to learn.” This semester, he teaches Issues and Trends for the Master of Science in Health Services Administration as well as Financial Accounting for Health Care Managers for the Executive Master of Science in Health Services Administration. He said that his teaching style tends to focus on building students’ oral and written communication skills with written assignments and classroom discussions as opposed to giving typical exams based on lectures.

“When going through the text, we are talking more about how the content relates to the world of health care leadership,” Elswick said. “In other words, I want our students to learn ‘what’ but, more importantly, understand ‘why.'”

While learning in the classroom is important, Elswick also encourages students to dive headfirst into the field, where they will gain essential hands-on experience.

“First, if they have never worked in health care, I encourage them to do anything they can to get behind the curtain. A part-time job, at any level, or even volunteering will provide some experiential learning and allow them to speak with some knowledge when they land their first interview.”

He also encourages students to connect with the HMI faculty and advisors when they need help with professional development, such as polishing a resume or preparing for a job interview.

When he’s not in the classroom, you can find him serving on a society board – but this board doesn’t have anything to do with health care. Elswick is the immediate past president of the Barbershop Harmony Society Board as well as the co-director and performance coach for Sisters of Sound, the Clermont Chapter of Harmony Incorporated. He is also a member of a barbershop quartet, a barbershop chorus and an a capella quartet.

Although music is an integral and rewarding part of Elswick’s life, working with students is now just as satisfying.

“I get incredibly energized when I get to work with the students who are hungry for knowledge,” he said. “There is a kind of feedback loop where the more they want to get the more I want to be able to give. This kind of relationship is a kind of luxury most senior executives in the field do not have time to fully explore.”