Lessons for tomorrow's health care leaders: Guest view
The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics predicts that health care occupations will grow at least 18 percent between 2016 and 2026. The term “occupation” covers jobs ranging from physician’s assistants to podiatrists, radiation therapists to registered nurses, and dozens of others.
That, of course, is just the beginning. Job growth has been predicted to be even greater on the administrative side of health care, with a 23 percent growth expected between 2012 and 2022.
Honestly, I’m not surprised. When I chose to pursue a career in health care more than 30 years ago, it was because I knew there would never be a shortage of people in need of health care. The respect I had for the people near me who were in the field also influenced this decision.
Now, years later, I can say with confidence that health care is a great career path, in part because there are so many different paths. There’s the hands-on work done by nurses, therapists and physicians and the administrative work done in hospitals, physicians’ practices and assisted-living facilities.
No matter which side, hands-on or administrative, every career revolves around making sure patients, in one way or another, are at the top of the priority list.
My focus has been administrative, which doesn’t get as much attention as the hands-on work. However, it is just as vital and has tons of upside. A career in health care administration can take you anywhere you want to go. There are public and private entities that need good people, jobs that allow for (or require) travel and it’s always possible that you can start your own company, as I did.
What does it take to get from “I think I want to pursue a career in health care administration” to becoming CEO of your own business?
It takes a person who is multi-talented. Administrators must have good people skills and an analytical side. They must also be a bit visionary, have the ability to anticipate challenges and obstacles and deal with issues proactively. It’s like being a great football player: don’t wait for the ball to hit the ground — move to the ball.
Effective communication skills are also key. On any given day, administrators interact with many different types of people in all sorts of stressful situations. There are doctors, nurses and other staff members, as well as patients and families. It is vital to learn how to communicate effectively with each person based on their unique needs.
A passion for helping people and compassion for people facing health problems (and their families) will also go a long way toward having a fulfilling and effective career in health care administration.
When you’re new and young in your career, it is easy to make mistakes. My biggest piece of advice here is to be careful who you choose as your role models. There are far too many people who have their own best interests at heart. Make sure you do business with people who are truly willing to help you in your career, and not take advantage of you for personal gain.
That said, in order to achieve in any aspect of life, it’s important to be resilient. Early on in my career, I found myself in a position where those on the outside looking in did not see me in the most favorable light. It was really tough, but I didn’t let it stop me from getting back in the game. If you believe in yourself when others don’t, adversity won’t keep you down.
It’s a privilege to have had such a robust career in post-acute care. To work in the same space and stay relevant, keep going strong and to continue to make a difference is incredibly fulfilling.
I come from humble roots. I was raised in Altoona. When I was in eighth grade in Catholic school, the principal told my mother that I’d be lucky to finish the year. Looking back, it amuses me to think that anyone would believe that lack of adolescent scholarly achievement would dictate my life.
Emotional intelligence, belief in yourself and a great balance of people skills and analytical skills will set you up for success in the world of health care — a field like no other.