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Sarah Pavelka

Program Director

College of Management and Human Potential

Degree Program Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA)

Sarah Pavelka, PhD, MHA, OTR/L, CPHQ, FNAHQ has over 20 years of experience leading, consulting, and coaching in leadership, organizational performance, and continuous improvement in business, industry, education, and healthcare. Sarah, is the new Program Director for the MHA and the Tempo (Competency) Based MHA programs at Walden University. Dr. Pavelka has professional and academic experiences are as a 13-year faculty member for the Masters in Healthcare Administration program at Des Moines University and an Improvement Faculty for the Iowa Healthcare Collaborative.

Sarah holds degrees in Biology and Psychology from Luther College; an Occupational Therapy degree from Concordia University-Wisconsin; MHA from Des Moines University, and a Ph.D. from Walden University. She is a Fellow for the National Association for Healthcare Quality (FNAHQ); a Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality (CPHQ); and has credentials in Occupational Therapy, Ergonomics, Lean, and Six Sigma Black Belt.


PhD, Walden University - Minneapolis, MN United States

Master of Healthcare Adminstration, Des Moines University - Des Moines, IA United States

Occupational Therapy, Concordia University, Wisconsin - Mequon, WI United States

Public Service

National Association for Healthcare Quality, Board Member - Chicago, IL United States

Iowa Hospital Association and National Association, Board Member - Des Moines

Baldrige Performance Excellence - Examiner (NIST), Volunteer

Awards / Honors

Lean Champion of the Year, Iowa Lean Consortium, 2018

Faculty of the Year, Des Moines University, 2018

Faculty of the Year, Des Moines University, 2015

Faculty of the Year, Des Moines University, 2009


Pavelka, S. The Relationship Between Hospital Leadership Activities and Clinical Quality Outcomes in Iowa.


Pavelka, S. (2018). Lean Application Series. WI Healthcare Collaborative.

Pavelka, S. (2018). Lean Certification Class. Iowa Hospital Association.

Pavelka, S. (2018). Relationship between Healthcare Leadership and Quality Outcomes. NAHQ.

Pavelka, S. (2018). Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality. National Association for Healthcare Quality.

Pavelka, S. (2018). Leadership and Patient Centered Care. Iowa Hospital Association.

Pavelka, S. (2018). Transformation Leadership and Lean. South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations.

Pavelka, S. (2018). Systems, Quality and Improvements. Alleganey Medical System.

Pavelka, S. (2018). Transformational Leadership. Iowa Health Information Management.

Pavelka, S. (2018). Quality and Healthcare Operations. Iowa Physician Assistant Association.

Pavelka, S. (2018). Lean and PDSA Improvements. South Dakota Community Health Centers.