University Students Explore Careers in Health-care Administration

Adventist Health is preparing a generation to make sound mission-driven decisions.

Kim Strobel, Adventist Health, and Adventist Review
<strong> University Students Explore Careers in Health-care Administration</strong>
Adventist Health is taking steps to train the next generation of mission-driven health care business leaders. [Photo: Adventist Health]

You are on a team assessing whether to acquire a new community hospital for Adventist Health. What questions, conversations, and topics are relevant? How would you decide if acquiring a hospital is a good decision?

Adventist Health, based in Roseville, California, United States, is taking steps to ensure the next generation of health-care business leaders can answer these and other important questions within the context of mission-driven, history-rich Adventist health care.

Through a variety of opportunities offered by Adventist Health — including student internships, a leadership residency program, and a college course in health-care administration — the West Coast-based health-care system is helping prepare young Adventists for careers in health-care administration.

The Introduction to Healthcare Administration class is offered at La Sierra University, Pacific Union College (both in California), and Walla Walla University in Washington State. The class provides opportunities for students to soak up personal career insights from Adventist Health leaders and engage in conversation on a variety of health-care subjects. Each class features a presentation by a different health-care executive and time for students to ask questions of the presenter. The class is formative and informational, and it can also be used as a job interview.

“Adventist Health is looking for bright, young, mission-driven students to come work for us,” Alex Bryan, chief mission officer for Adventist Health and co-instructor for the class, said. “The Introduction to Healthcare Administration class is an opportunity for students to put their name forward and to step up and say, ‘I want to make a difference in the world. I want to use my particular skills to love people who are hurting, to heal people who are sick, and to bring hope to people who find they have no hope.’”

Building a pipeline of future health-care leaders who are aligned with Adventist values is an important strategy for Adventist Health. This class provides students at Adventist colleges and universities on the West Coast with the opportunity to learn about the business side of health care and the significance of being a leader for a faith-based health-care organization.

Topics covered in the class include finance, operations, human resources, marketing, communication, Adventist Health mission, spiritual care in a health-care setting, and more. Twenty-five Adventist Health executives and leaders from across the organization have presented for the class during the past two years.

The interactive class format is supplemented with readings from books and current news articles about health-care finance, public health policy, issues in human resources, and much more. The class also provides an overview of the history of Adventist Health, its roots in the Adventist Church, and the unique mission of the company. The course model allows students to gain a better understanding of health-care administration straight from executive presenters who provide real-world examples.

Bryan and Brendan Collins, co-designer and co-instructor for the class, have planned course content to provide insight, inspiration, and opportunity for mission-driven students who know they want to work in health-care administration, those pursuing the clinical side of health care but want to learn about the business of health care, and for students simply exploring their options and wanting to learn about the foundations of health care in the United States.

“The class gives students an inside look into Adventist Health and the American health-care system as a whole. Students have opportunities to receive career and leadership advice that will last a lifetime,” Collins said.

More than 100 students have taken the course during the past two years, with many students receiving internships and residencies at Adventist Health after taking the class.

“My favorite part about the class was getting to interact with the executives. Being able to ask them personal firsthand questions is something that is so valuable to my future,” one student said.

Another student said, “This class has given me the opportunity to look into the health-care administration career field and taught me so much about the structure, variety of jobs available, culture, and ministry of Adventist Health.”

Still another student said that she especially found interest in the Adventist Health executive officers with a legal background. “It helped me to realize that there is no singular path, and that the future doesn’t necessarily hinge entirely on what a diploma says,” she explained.

John Thomas, dean of the Zapara School of Business at La Sierra University, said, “The class provides a great opportunity for business students to get to know the business of health care from the inside while getting acquainted with working health-care executives. The class is important for our business majors because of how substantial health care is in the modern U.S. economy, the longstanding Adventist connection with health care, and the role of health care as an expression of Adventist values.”

Collins agreed, and added, “With health care comprising almost 20 percent of the American economy, there is no shortage of roles and career opportunities within the industry. Our goal is to give every student who takes the course an inside look into our organization and to help them realize there are endless opportunities for careers not just in the clinical space but in health-care administration as well. More importantly, we want students to recognize that working at Adventist Health is an opportunity to be part of something more than just a day job. It is a calling to the transformational, healing ministry Jesus brought to this earth 2,000 years ago by inspiring health, wholeness, and hope for those in need.”

The original version of this story was posted on the North Pacific Union Conference news site.

Kim Strobel, Adventist Health, and Adventist Review