Amid the daily hustle and bustle of one of Birmingham’s biggest healthcare hubs is Erin Snow Yarbrough, making sure resources are in place and projects are moving forward. As the Senior Director of Hospital Medicine for UAB Medicine, Erin stays busy. And she’s no stranger to the unique demands of working in a hospital. This organizational guru comes from a long line of UAB employees who have had long careers in healthcare. She firmly believes in UAB’s mission and knew she wanted to follow in her family members’ footsteps one day. When she’s not juggling her hospital duties, you’ll find this Birmingham native soaking in the Magic City. She’s also a mother of one little girl and is expecting a second in July! We loved sitting down with Erin to learn more about her role at UAB and her life outside of work. Meet our newest FACE of Birmingham.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Vestavia Hills. I moved to Nashville for my undergraduate degree, and then I moved back to Birmingham to get my MBA at UAB. I never expected to stay here, but Birmingham looks a lot different than it did when I was growing up. It is a beautiful city and has so much to offer — art, food and outdoor space. Magic City Art Connection is one of our favorite events (coming up soon!), and it seems like new restaurants open weekly. We live in The Preserve at Moss Rock and love all the outdoor spaces in our neighborhood.
Why did you choose the career path you did?
Both my mom and my stepmom spent most of their careers at UAB, so healthcare was a field I was used to hearing about. But I was never drawn to practicing medicine or nursing, actually providing care. I got my undergraduate degree in something called human and organizational development, which is essentially business management with a human relations emphasis. As I was finishing college, my step-sister started her masters in health services administration. It was the first time I’d heard of the field, and it was intriguing to me because it enabled me to use my interests in business to contribute to something I felt was meaningful. I got my MBA, but always felt drawn to working for UAB. I still feel thankful to come to work here, and I really believe in the missions UAB serves.
Describe your role at UAB. What does a typical day look like for you?
UAB Medicine is a big place with many different entities — the hospital, the School of Medicine, the Health Services Foundation. My role is focused on hospital operations and physician practice management, so I spend a good portion of my time working with the clinical departments, where most of our physicians are primarily employed, ensuring resources are in place and operational improvements are happening. My days are filled with a lot of friendly negotiation and project management … meetings on meetings!
What’s your favorite part about your job?
Healthcare is changing, both in the way we practice medicine and the ways we get paid for caring for patients. These changes are requiring all healthcare organizations to rethink the way they deliver care, but the most complex healthcare organizations are academic medical centers, like UAB. The biggest challenges to transforming healthcare delivery at UAB are resource scarcity and competing priorities. UAB has a tripartite mission — clinical care, education and research — and sometimes those missions compete. Working with other smart people to move big projects forward amid the constraints and many priorities is a daily challenge, but it is so worthwhile.
Who is someone you admire and why?
Pick any prominent woman or man — in business, politics, entertainment — who is juggling a family and a career. It is hard work and deserves to be highlighted. I love seeing women in these prominent roles get celebrated, but I also love seeing men be vocal about active involvement in their families while also keeping their careers moving forward. Globally, we don’t do enough to support either men or women when our children are young, and it is so critical to be fully present in their lives. The more we talk about it, the more acceptable it becomes to be honest about having to re-prioritize when our kids get sick or have a school play.
Favorite Birmingham restaurant?
My husband and I lived in Cahaba Heights when we were first married, and we loved to go to Satterfield’s. It is still one of our favorite special occasion restaurants.
What’s the best risk you’ve ever taken?
When we were expecting our first daughter, my husband quit his job to start a company. While it was, at face value, a risk for him, we made the decision together, because it meant we would be dropping down to one income source right before I was going to go on maternity leave, and we weren’t sure if it would pay off. Around four years later, it has turned out to be a great decision. I’m proud of what he’s accomplished and the small part I got to play in his achievement.
If you could trade shoes with anyone for one day, who would it be and why?
I would love to learn more about the process composers go through when writing film scores. I know absolutely nothing about it, but I am sure it is much more complicated than we give it credit for.
What’s something most people don’t know about you?
I love to sing in choirs — big concert choirs or small a capella groups. I sang with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra for a while a few years ago and loved it. I’m looking forward to getting back into it when our kiddos get a little older.
Favorite book, podcast or TV show?
My favorite podcast is “Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend.” My favorite show is “The Great British Baking Show.” And I listen to a lot of audiobooks from Audible. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah is my favorite recent listen.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
I wouldn’t say this is a piece of advice, but I’ve had a lot of great role models who demonstrate the importance of hard work and a positive attitude. I try to bring that same work ethic and positive spirit to work every day, despite the daily challenges and stressors. I try to make every interaction one that leaves someone feeling better than before — like we are moving things forward together.
What are three things you absolutely can’t live without?
“The Daily” podcast from The New York Times, being outside in the sunshine and pasta
Thank you for speaking with us, Erin, and thank you to Eric & Jamie Photography for the beautiful photos of Erin.
Explore more amazing FACES of Birmingham HERE!