Tim Bowen, who grew up in Mena with his cattle farmer dad and schoolteacher mom, said his job of vice president and administrator at Baptist Health Medical Center-Conway has been his dream since he was a boy.

"College was never not an option being a teacher’s kid," he said.

Because his mother taught business, he said he always had an interest in that subject in addition to health care.

He received his Bachelor of Science degree in nuclear medical technology from the University of Central Arkansas — his mother’s alma mater — in 2006. He said he fell in love with the community as well as the program.

"I was drawn to health care because I have a servant’s heart and also I was fascinated by the technology of the field," he said.

His first experience in health care was when he did clinicals at Baptist Health in Little Rock in 2005 as part of his undergraduate requirements, which he called "an eye-opening experience."

"I had no idea how complex a hospital was," he said. "By the end of clinicals, I had already made up my mind that that’s where I wanted to be, and a goal that I had for myself was to progress and to move into hospital administration."

His first job after college was running the nuclear medicine department, a branch of radiology, at Mena Regional Health System (MRHS). During that time, he was also attending night school three times a week in Fort Smith to get his Master of Business Administration.

After completing his MBA in 2010, he moved into administration being named the CEO of MRHS. He was 27 years old at the time.

"It was my first opportunity and I was very grateful for it," he said of being able to combine his two favorite fields — health care and business.

In 2011, the Arkansas Hospital Association named him Young Administrator of the Year.

He served in that role for three and a half years before being hired as the president of Integris Grove Hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which was larger than MRHS. The job landed him recognition from Becker’s Health Care as one of the Top 25 Health Care Leaders Under 40 in 2015.

But the goal was always to get a job in hospital administration in Arkansas, which he achieved at age 33 with the position at Baptist.

"Ultimately, everybody has that town or that job that is kind of the pinnacle — it’s where they want to be and what they want to do — for us, central Arkansas was that. All the moves that I’ve made have been to get back to this area and to this job," he said.

Finding the balance between his two favorite fields hasn’t always been easy.

"At times I miss the clinical side," he said. "My comfort is not being behind this desk; it’s being out in the clinical area. I’m extremely visible in the hospital. If you’re having a bad day, you go do patient rounds. Interacting with the patients is the best part of the job I have."

His said he is fascinated with the technology at Baptist Health-Conway, which opened in September.

"There’s things in this building that honestly, [I] didn’t even know the technology existed or things that you’ve heard about at conferences and got to see it and think ‘Boy, that would be nice but we’ve got other capital needs like a new roof,’" he said. "Every innovative thing you could put into a facility to improve the patient’s experience and the care and make our staff’s lives a little easier, was installed here.

"Those are things that the staff would have to do if you didn’t have that technology, it allows them to spend more of that one-on-one direct care with the patient."

Bowen and his wife of 13 years, Natalie, are in the process of building a house in Conway near the hospital. They’re adding on to their family as well. Their 7-year-old son, Brody, is expecting a baby sister, Bella Kate, in the next few weeks.

"We went for the trifecta," he laughed. "A new job and a baby on the way, let’s build a house too. We wanted to put down roots."