“I was just going to catch babies,” says Amber H. Price, president/CEO of Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center (SWRMC). “I didn’t set out to lead.”
Holland native Price lost her mother to breast cancer when she was 16. “At the time, I knew I was going to do something in women’s health,” she says. With her brother, Joeren, she moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, where their father worked. At 19, she married Joe Price and moved overseas to follow his military career.
Price earned a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from Old Dominion University (ODU), a Bachelor of Science degree in behavioral science from University of Maryland, a Master in Nurse Midwifery degree, a Post Master’s degree in graduate certification in women’s health from The University of Cincinnati and an Executive Doctorate degree in Nursing at The Johns Hopkins Institute. She is also a board Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM).
“I went into nurse midwifery because I wanted to make sure I was directly providing great care to an underserved population in the Northern Neck,” she says. She continued in midwifery, working on the hospital side until she became an administrator in 2019. As Virginia Commonwealth’s director of midwifery, she helped develop its midwifery program.
Price’s career propelled her from chief operating officer (COO) to CEO at Hospital Corporation of America, where she led the building of two hospitals. She moved to its TriStar Centennial Medical Center in Nashville as COO, where she ran its women’s and children’s hospital. Today Price’s days are full at Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center where she also heads its diversity council.
“Amber uses her positional power to really advance the work for equity,” says Dana Beckton, Sentara’s chief diversity officer. “She’s comfortable in those uncomfortable spaces.”
“I’m passionate about equity in healthcare — for our employees and patients,” Price says. “I’m heavily focused on intentionally breaking through barriers that cause inequity in healthcare outcomes.”
Price strives to create individualized, safe spaces where women can receive phenomenal healthcare. Many women never access healthcare due to lack of proximity, financial means, fear, etc.,” she says. “When you take good care of young women and help them engage, they learn how to navigate great healthcare and stay healthy for theirs and their family members’ lives.”
Price is passionate about women’s leadership and mentoring them to be senior leaders through ODU’s Women’s Initiative Network. “Women make 80 percent of healthcare decisions so we should be at the table in healthcare,” she says. “I learned how to lead and influence through feedback, coaches, self-development and trial and error.
SWRMC’s emergency room boasts the highest rating in the Sentara system and one of the highest scores with patient experience in the system. Price works daily, attending fundraisers, community and grant events. Her schedule includes approximately 50 speaking engagements annually as well as podcasts and film spots. She has also authored chapters in many books.
“Amber doesn’t mind having those hard conversations; sitting and listening to the consumer; and doing something about it,” says Ti’Juana Gholson, author, business owner, speaker, real estate investor and life coach. “I would put her against anybody.”
Price is a recipient of the 2023 Change Maker Award given by Inner Peace Coalition, Inc. She has two careers: one as a healthcare administrator and the other speaking and writing about everything related to women’s health. She was recently named The Global Authority on Women’s Health by the BBC.
“If you are in a leadership position, you have to be really clear on why you lead,” Price says. “For me, it’s making sure I impact community or patient care daily.”
In her leisure time, Amber meets Joe (who works for The Pentagon) at their home in Northern Neck to enjoy fishing and nature. They have two daughters: Saskia, a high school English teacher in Richmond; and Schulyer, an archeology graduate student in Leiden, Holland (Price’s hometown). And, in her time off, she is a solo hiker who goes off the grid. “I find a waterfall and go alone,” she says. “My latest big weeklong trip was hiking into deep, dark Kentucky; I disappear. It sharpens your senses and acuity. I need to be alert and really focus on everything around me.”
“Price’s personal story creates a unique and profound connection to the community she serves,” says Kapua Conley, SVP and regional president, central. “That connection makes her such a passionate and inspiring healthcare leader.”
“As I look back on my career, the highlights are the ability to influence the care in our community and making sure people receive the respectful care they needed and have access to that care,” Price says.
TO THE POINT:
Amber H. Price, DNP, CNM, MSN, RN
Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center
Address: 100 Sentara Circle, Williamsburg, VA 23188