Leonard Achan ’99: Changing the Future of Healthcare

News, Alumni, Feature

Leonard Achan, Hospital for Special Surgery


September 25, 2017

Leonard Achan ’99: Changing the Future of Healthcare

by Charity Shumway

Leonard Achan ’99, now the chief innovation officer for the Hospital for Special Surgery, didn’t plan a career as a healthcare executive; he set out to become a clinician.

The child of Guyanese immigrants of Indian descent and raised in Queens, Achan was the first in his family to go to college. He knew he loved people and the concepts around health and science, so nursing seemed like a perfect fit. He found his way to Adelphi because, he said, “I wanted to be challenged, and I knew Adelphi was tough.”

He commuted to Garden City from Queens, working in Manhattan as a doorman nights and summers throughout college. “I bought an extra set of nursing books and left them in my locker at work,” Achan said. “Many, many years later I was in boardrooms with some of the people I used to take down in the elevator every morning.”

Achan appreciated Adelphi for its accessibility and rigor, but also for its diversity. “I was with a melting pot of people from different cultures,” he said. “It was almost a feeling of being in some international realm.”

When it came time for his senior practicum, Achan aimed high. “Everyone was scared to write down the city hospitals because they thought there was no chance of getting in,” Achan said. But he boldly picked Mt. Sinai in Manhattan for his first choice and was delighted to land it.

He went above and beyond, exceeding the hours of clinical work required, and at the completion of his practicum his supervisor offered him a position in Mt. Sinai’s adult acute care unit.

Only a year and a half later, Achan received a prestigious award for clinical excellence, which brought him to the attention of hospital administrators. Shortly thereafter, he took his first leadership position as an off-shift administrator.

“You have hundreds of leaders at a hospital, but at 5:00 p.m. it goes to four people,” Achan said. “I credit a lot of my managerial ability and crisis management thinking to having been in that role in the off-shift. You have to be innovative and roll up your sleeves.”

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Adelphi University, New York, is a highly awarded, nationally ranked, powerfully connected doctoral research university dedicated to transforming students’ lives through small classes with world-class faculty, hands-on learning and innovative ways to support academic and career success. Adelphi offers exceptional liberal arts and sciences programs and professional training, with particular strength in our Core Four—Arts and Humanities, STEM and Social Sciences, the Business and Education Professions, and Health and Wellness.

Recognized as a Best College by U.S. News & World Report, Adelphi is Long Island’s oldest private coeducational university. It serves more than 8,100 students at its beautiful main campus in Garden City, New York—just 23 miles from New York City’s cultural and internship opportunities—and at dynamic learning hubs in Manhattan, the Hudson Valley and Suffolk County, as well as online.

More than 115,000 Adelphi graduates have gained the skills to thrive professionally as active, engaged citizens, making their mark on the University, their communities and the world.

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