Health care may be a costly drag on the economy, but it’s still a great place to find a job.
Midcareer managers and other workers have been migrating to health care jobs for years, of course. Now, with the recession, the lure is even stronger.
The article suggested managing health care organizations does not require knowing much about health care.
'The demand for talented leaders in health care is only going to go up,' predicted Jane Groves, a senior vice president at Integrated Healthcare Strategies, an executive search and consulting firm in Kansas City, Mo. 'All that demand can’t and shouldn’t be filled by people already working in health care.'
The article supplied success stories of health care managers who came from unrelated fields, without any actual experience giving care, or knowledge of biomedicine. For example,
Frank Pinkowsky worked as a manager at DuPont for 24 years before taking a position as senior vice president for human resources at the Guthrie Clinic in Sayre, Pa. 'Don’t underestimate the value of what you learned working for someone else,' he advised.
'We just recently recruited a vice president for human resources from the supermarket industry,' said Mike A. Helm, a senior executive at Sutter Health, a hospital chain with 45,000 employees in Northern California. Sutter hires 20 to 30 executives a year.
At most, becoming a top healthcare executive only requires some course-work on health care management, perhaps on-line rather than in a classroom. Again, no real experience giving care, or knowledge of medicine or biology is required. For example,
Colin Ward, a 37-year-old Baltimore hospital executive, also successfully switched careers, leaving ESPN after eight years of producing sports broadcasts. 'I felt like I wanted to be contributing in some other way,' he said.
After 11 months of graduate classes in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and a year as a paid apprentice at a Baltimore hospital, he had a master’s degree in health science and management.
Mr. Ward stayed at the hospital, Lifebridge Health, for three more years and in 2007 moved to his current post at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center in Towson, Md., as director of corporate strategy.
Many managers with experience in fields like human resources, finance and marketing find a welcome in health care, with a little studying up. Online courses, books, journals and professional magazines provide material.
The article argued that managing health care information technology also does not require any real knowledge of actual health care.
The Obama administration’s $19 billion 10-year campaign to promote electronic medical records opens another huge opportunity, said Dr. Blackford Middleton, a technology research expert at Partners Healthcare in Boston. An estimated 40,000 to 160,000 additional health information professionals could be needed, he said.
The industry trade association, known as Himss [sic] for the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, offers an array of online courses that can help technology workers move into health care.
The article did allow
Health care does, of course, have its own jargon and a host of complex challenges. Managers have to know how to deal with doctors, nurses and professional groups, as well as with regulators.
But perish the thought that health care executives who have to deal with lesser species like doctors, nurses and other professionals have to understand much about what these lowly folks actually do.
Somehow, the lessons from the bankrupt automobile companies led by executives with business degrees but no real knowledge of or interest in automobiles and how they are made, and from failed finance companies which sold complex financial derivatives that their executives did not understand do not seem to obtain.
It does all have a certain degenerate, bubble about to burst odor. The notion is the health care boom is so intense that anyone can run a health care organization.
We did find out that anyone can run an automobile company or finance firm too. The results just may not be so pretty.
Is it any wonder that in this climate, people with no understanding of the health care mission are running health care organizations, and soon the organizations are run in conflict with that mission?
As we have said before, to really reform health care, we need health care leaders who actually understand health care, and support its values. But the bubble may have to burst before many people learn that lesson. For now, there is too much money to be made.