Three recent events reminded me how grateful I am to be a professor teaching health care management. First, at our recent program advisory board, we discussed the need to establish a scholarship to support the tuition for the summer internship. The advisory board saw the need and donated more than enough to establish the scholarship. Second, at Homecoming two weeks ago, I saw a former student I had not seen in ten years. She told me that something I said in the introduction to health care management class had stuck with her all these years and shaped her professional development. What I said that made such a profound impact was that in health care we have to be the best of the best because our rejects go six feet under. She is a proud health care manager striving to make a positive difference every day. I have seen multiple times where our alums go on and lead productive and fulfilling lives. It is satisfying to know that, in a very small way, I helped influence their lives. The third event was when our first health care management student applied to the McNair Scholars Program. I remember the first time I advised this student during summer orientation before she started her freshman year. She was a shy, first-generation college student, not sure if college was the right choice for her. I watched her blossom into a confident scholar with her sights set on becoming a professor in health care management.
I am also grateful for the Winthrop Health Care Management Program being a member of AUPHA. As I write this blog, I am reminded all the “benefits” I have received from our AUPHA membership. First, and foremost, are the incredible colleagues and friendships I have established at programs throughout the US and Canada. I may see many of these friends only at AUPHA Annual Meeting or Undergraduate Workshop but I know if I need their expertise or advice, they are just an email or phone call away. Second, certification is at times arduous and aggravating, but overwhelmingly beneficial. Certification helps our program focus on improving, thereby being better able to prepare our students for the next level after graduation. Therefore, I am thankful for colleagues who conduct a peer review and help improve our program. Third, the knowledge and best practices shared by colleagues makes me a better professor. Through the AUPHA meetings, the Journal of Health Administration Education, and the AUPHA Network, I continually update my knowledge base and skills. Fourth, I am thankful for those who have mentored me during my career. Although there are many I could name, I especially want to thank Peter Fitzpatrick at Clayton State. Early in my involvement with AUPHA, Peter took me under his wing and guided my participation in AUPHA. Realizing my passion for undergraduate education, Peter encouraged me to volunteer to be a certification reviewer. Later, he suggested I continue to serve and volunteer to work as a member of the Undergraduate Program Committee. Finally, I have the chance to work with committed board members who put AUPHA first and a dedicated and talented AUPHA staff who carry out the day-to-day operations.
As we enter the end of semester crunch, I hope you take a brief pause and reflect on the joys of being a health care management professor. At this time of year the many meetings, having numerous papers and projects to grade, and general fatigue take its toll. Taking a break from grading papers to write this blog was a very pleasant and useful way to refocus. I am ready to get back and plow though this electronic stack of papers. Best wishes for surviving the next few weeks and I hope everyone has a relaxing holiday break.