His start date is March 4, when he will replace retiring CEO Ron Hytoff.
Burkhart, 58, has been with Shands Jacksonville since 2001, when he served as a consultant before becoming the organization's president and administrator in 2003. He became president and CEO in 2010.
Burkhart said in a Wednesday interview that the opportunity to lead Tampa General — about twice the size of Shands Jacksonville in terms of beds and employees — was an opportunity he did not foresee, but one he could not pass up. He said he is familiar with Tampa General and the organization is similar to Shands, as both are member institutions of Safety Net Alliance of Florida, which provide service to low-income and uninsured patients.
"I have been here 11, almost 12 years," he said. "The timing is never perfect, as they say, but when these opportunities come, they come."
According to a news release about the hire, Tampa General has more than 6,400 employees compared to more than 3,800 employees at Shands Jacksonville. Tampa General is a 1,018-bed academic medical center, according to the release.
Burkhart said one difference is the blend of doctors at each facility, as doctors at Shands Jacksonville are mostly from the academic field while Tampa General is a mix of academic and community doctors.
Burkhart said Hytoff has been a longtime friend and approached him about the possibility when he was deciding when to retire. Burkhart said he was not actively looking for another job, but would talk.
According to the release, 200 people showed interest in the position.
Burkhart said he interviewed in November and then again in mid-December before being offered the position and he accepted. He said he kept Shands Jacksonville staff and the board of directors chairman informed throughout and would "leave Shands in the best position possible."
He said that included continued resolution of Shands Jacksonville's Northside expansion for construction of a 100-bed inpatient facility. The Agency for Health Care Administration issued preliminary approval in 2011 for the project. A state administrative law judge ruled that a certificate of need should be rejected, after Memorial Hospital filed a challenge.
"We think that's a bad ruling. We don't think that the rationale there is what ought to have been used," he said.
Burkhart said Shands Jacksonville's rebuttal to the ruling is due in mid-January and likely will be followed by a rebuttal from Memorial. A timeline for the issue being resolved could be around March, he said.
In addition, Burkhart said he will prepare for staff and others information for issues for the upcoming legislative session, particularly those regarding Medicaid.
Burkhart is the second Jacksonville executive to leave for a similar Tampa job in the past several weeks.
Former Jacksonville Port Authority CEO Paul Anderson resigned Dec. 19 to take a position as CEO of the Tampa Port Authority.
Shands Jacksonville President and CEO Jim Burkhart is leaving Jacksonville to take the same position with Tampa General Hospital.