2019 Provider Seat Candidate

Karen MorlanKaren Morlan, CMRP
Vice President, Supply Chain Operations
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Nashville, TN

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Describe why you are a good candidate for this leadership role.

My career has been focused on learning, leadership and relationships within Supply Chain. In order to improve as an individual and advance my career, I have worked my way through several roles which have increased my knowledge of health care and heightened my interest in learning more. Every role I have filled has taken a different aspect of leadership and refined my skills as a leader and teacher.

My first role in health care was as a Department Secretary for the Director of Supply Chain. She taught me the importance of thinking outside the box and pushing the limits of supply chain operations. Throughout my employment at that particular organization, I filled the following roles, Clinical Supply Tech, OR Supply Coordinator, Contract Bid Analyst and ended my stent as the Purchasing Director. Each role taught me the importance of leadership and teamwork.

I was asked to develop the Value Analysis program which would incorporate input from physicians, clinicians, finance and supply chain. Also, while working at this organization, we implemented a new ERP system which allowed me to participate in project management and make decisions that would impact the future of the organization. With this experience in hand, I was able to search for other opportunities at another organization. When I started working at Vanderbilt University Medical Center I was hired to work on the Medical Economics Outcomes Committee, which is a clinician-driven process that standardizes and utilizes evidence-based, clinically sound, financially responsible methodologies for introduction or consolidation of new supplies, devices and technology within Vanderbilt University Medical Center to provide the highest quality medical care.

Shortly after beginning at VUMC I was asked to move to Supply Chain Operations, and take over the role as Director of Supply Chain. This role allowed me to work directly with nurses and develop relationships that are in still in place today. I took the opportunity of this role to truly embed myself within the organization. I did this by joining committees such as Crisis Management, Safety Committee, Environmental of Care, Nursing Education, Medication Management, to name a few. I joined these committees to serve as a liaison between Supply Chain and the organization. Educating the medical center on the roles and responsibilities of Supply Chain has been an experience that has brought many rewards, but has also bridged the gap and laid a foundation for future leaders in Supply Chain. Supply Chain is now a piece of a strategic plan of the organization rather than an afterthought. I also strive to be known as in our organization as a person who helps the people instead of by my title.

Describe where you see health care evolving, and what you see supply chain’s role being in those future models.

I see health care evolving into an industry of products and services focused on patient outcomes. The role of Supply Chain is to ensure the patient receives the goods and services at the lowest cost. However, the role of Supply Chain is more than delivering goods to the patient, the role of Supply Chain is to expand beyond the four walls of the organization and understand the needs of the patient and guide the organization into understanding the total cost of care.

Supply Chain can look at cost from an overall outcome rather than the cost of an individual item. The search for the best cost involves contracting, financial overview of entire patient stays, and review of quality outcomes. To sustain in the future, the current focus on lowest cost must evolve to an overall focus on complete cost to include cost of inventory, cost of operations, and tracing outcomes.

The Supply Chain must keep itself educated on current topics affecting medical supplies and services, networking with other organizations, and focus on operational excellence. Supply Chain must also participate in clinical integration which provides a framework to work together rather than Supply Chain leading their own charge to always use the lowest cost item without seeing the whole picture. 

How will your leadership and vision strengthen AHRMM?

I would be honored to have the opportunity to serve on the AHRMM Board and further the mission of providing education, leadership and networking to current and future supply chain leaders.

My years of experience in Supply Chain has given me the opportunity to work with all levels of staff. I believe each member plays an integral part of fulfilling the goal of providing the best outcomes to each patient who enters any health care facility. I have strived throughout my career to uplift and demonstrate the value of supply chain in health care. A member of my team and myself were nominated as “Friends of Nursing” which is an award given to individuals that exemplify the relationship between nursing and supply chain.

One of our roles as leaders in AHRMM is the development of current staff members through education, sharing knowledge, and engaging them in decisions that affect their day to day operations. Supply Chain members also need to be guided to share experiences with other departments and organizations to strengthen relationships and encourage collaboration. With my current involvement in Tennessee Association Healthcare Resource & Materials Management I have had the opportunity to share such collaboration with my own team and teams from other organizations. Recently I had the opportunity to participate in a presentation made by future MD’s who were seeking advice from Supply Chain related to a finals project. I was honored to share my advice and encourage involvement in Supply Chain.

I am also supportive of the expansion of CQO with the adoption of and promotion of a clinically integrated supply chain. I utilized the CI post to present at the TAHRMM annual meeting. The initiative was well received as each facility could take this foundation and adapt to their current strategic plan. The future of supply chain is held within clinical integration and involving supply chain in the strategic vision of the organization. It would be a privilege to serve on the AHRMM board and participate in the shaping of the future of Supply Chain professionals. 


Total number of years as AHRMM Member: 6 years
Years in health care: 22 years
Years worked in the health care supply chain profession: 22 years
Years worked in current position: 1 year
Number of direct reports: 13
Number of employees in your department: 189
Type of Organization you are employed by: Integrated Delivery Network (IDN)

Describe your current position and responsibilities:

As Vice President of Logistics & Operations, I oversee and guide the essential operational, managerial, professional and corporate duties in support of major business activities, responsibilities and goals for the Supply Chain. Responsibilities include oversite of all Supply Chain operational functions for the entire clinical enterprise, offsite case cart center, medical equipment, linen services, fleet management, managed print, and retail operations.


List service to local chapter and to AHRMM national, including all committee/task force involvement, and whether you served as a member or as chair, within the past 5 years.

  • Annual AHRMM Education Committee Member 2018
  • Annual AHRMM Education Committee Member 2019
  • TAHRMM Board Member: Representative Western Region TN

List Annual Conferences, Leadership Training Conferences, and Thought Leader Summits attended, including dates and locations, within the past 5 years:

  • AHRMM Conference: 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
  • UDI Conference: 2017 and registered for 2019
  • ISM Chapter Meetings: Nashville Chapter

Service to professional associations or community organizations to which you belong, including all committees, whether you served as a member or as chair, the year(s) of service, any elected offices held and the year(s) held:

  • AHRMM Member 2014-present
  • Vizient: Clinical and Supply Chain Council 2018-Present
  • ARHMM Education Committee
  • AHRMM Annual Conference Committee