A career to remember

A career to remember

Judy Walch retires after 18 years as department administrator, decades at UF

By Christine Van Wyk 

Judy Walch

Change is constant, and throughout her more than 40 years of work, Judy Walch has seen her share of it.

Sitting in her office, surrounded by annual reports, coding manuals, family pictures and motivational posters, she reflected on some of these changes, particularly in the careers of the people she’s worked with over the years. Regardless of her job, her work has always come down to helping people; it’s what matters most to her.

“I like seeing people grow, moving on to something bigger,” said Walch, who recently retired from her position as director of medical/health administration in the College of Medicine department of community health and family medicine after 18 years in the role.

Walch began her foray into the administrative side of medicine in June 1969 when she took a position as a fiscal assistant for the college’s department of anesthesiology.

“I liked the medical side of things, and I was given more responsibility over time,” she said.

That extra responsibility seemed to suit Walch perfectly.

In less than three years, she was promoted to staff assistant and later to assistant director of administrative services, positions that allowed her to work with the dean of the College of Medicine and department administrators to manage more than 20 salary budgets.

After almost 17 years with UF, Walch and her family moved to Ohio. Her coworkers gave her a notebook full of thank-you letters from people across the college, a memento she keeps to this day.

After moving to Ohio, Walch spent nine months trying to embrace life as a stay-at-home mom, but eventually she decided she missed her work too much. With the help of a former colleague, a new position was created for her at Case Western Reserve University, where she coordinated physician salaries and the appointments of professional staff.

In 1987, she took on her biggest challenge yet and became an administrator for the Division of Ophthalmology at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation.

“They told me no administrator stayed longer than a year or two,” she said with a smile. “I was there for seven.”

Walch finally returned home to Gainesville in 1994 to become the department administrator for community health and family medicine with the UF College of Medicine. For someone who always wanted to be involved and learn more, the new position was a good fit.

During her tenure as department administrator, she increased funding for the Shands at Alachua General Hospital Family Medicine Residency Program; she served as president of the Association of Family Practice Administrators; and she independently began work on a new web-based orientation manual for administrators. Today, she is the vice president of the North Central Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Professional Coders.

But one of her biggest accomplishments was overseeing the construction of the new Family Medicine at Main practice.

“It took 18 years of saying, ‘We need a new building, we need a new building,’” Walch said.

Finally, the new practice opened in July, replacing Family Medicine at Fourth. Like the four other practices Walch oversees, Family Medicine at Main will accept more than 24,000 visits annually and is home to the Family Medicine Residency Program. It is a fitting close to a career dedicated to helping others.

“I loved my job,” she said.