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Bringing Valuable Experience to the Job

May 1, 2017

Kevin Mitchell, PhD is the newest faculty member in Health Services Administration and brings extensive and impressive experience from academia and many areas of health administration. Mitchell graduated from Temple University with a degree in public health and went on to receive two advance degrees, an MBA from Eastern University, and a PhD in public health from Walden University. Those degrees helped him build a career combining corporate, academic and public experience, something he hopes will help him achieve his one goal at the College of Nursing and Health Professions — connecting students to the right organizations having the right competencies.
For the son of a third grade teacher and a University of Pennsylvania-educated engineer who worked for the Department of Defense, arriving at a career in healthcare administration was unexpected. “I always thought I had to do what my dad did. My sister studied engineering and is now a computer scientist, but it just wasn’t right for me,” Mitchell stated. “I gravitated toward my passion — health.” As it turns out, something very particular within healthcare administration grabbed his attention. “I’m keen on making sure there’s evidence and outcomes,” he explained.  “If there are resources being allocated to a program, I want to make sure they are being spent the right way, and if not, I want to figure out what models work for patients and organizations.” This all boils down to accountability; why does a program exist, what is it supposed to do and for whom? Is it working?
With every job Mitchell’s had, it seems that those questions remain top of mind, though manifested in various forms. He started at St. Mary’s Villa for Children as the director of health where he worked with therapists to help create health and recreation programs for the children as part of the whole treatment plan. He implemented and evaluated injury prevention programs when he worked for the Montgomery County Health Department. “I was the director of a residential treatment facility, assistant health administrator, then health services administrator, working with clinical and non-clinical teams making sure that we were leading and treating patients and getting good outcomes,” Mitchell related.
He also worked for Astra Zeneca in sales and marketing of gastrointestinal and cardiovascular medications. “That’s when I fell in love with clinical pharmacology — that is really my area of research interest.” Here too, responsibility is important to him. “My love deals more with medication adherence and pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of medications,” he said. In thinking about patients, initially he wonders when a person is prescribed a medication, are they taking it. But what he really wants to know is if the patient adheres to the prescription because he or she has an interest in understanding what happens once he or she takes the medication — how is it metabolizing in the body, do they care about the scientific part of it or is she or he only taking the medication because it was prescribed. “I believe public health and healthcare administration programs need to do a better job of accountability.”
Despite the political climate, Mitchell is a “quantitative guy,” so his focus will always be setting up health systems that are addressing the needs of the most vulnerable populations. “It’s not just implementing programs, but measuring them and making sure they are effective,” he explained. Having taken part in a required needs assessment at the hospital where he currently works, he looked at the collected data and even then asked if the right population was assessed and if they could see an improvement in health. Mitchell stated that the business aspects of administration, like accounting, marketing and sales, human resources and legal, are important and have to be considered in the creation of programs. In his mind, it is critical to partner with everyone when in healthcare administration. That includes clinicians, specialists, quality assurance people and other administrators who all need to be on the same page, united for the same purpose. That way, the patient reaps the benefit of having the knowledge base of everyone on the team — doctor, nurse, therapist, etc.
Healthcare administration is so broad, fits in to so many areas and has very transferable skills and competencies, so it comes down to which area of the industry students want to go in to. “There’s a lot of opportunity and not just because I say so,” Mitchell pointed out. “It’s a growing industry, the largest sector in Philadelphia and we have to make sure we connect the student with the right opportunity.” As a professor, he wants to learn what interests students have so he is better able to assist in finding the right Co-ops
Because of another expertise Mitchell has, working with healthcare accrediting agencies, licensing and compliance, he can make sure students understand how those relate to future jobs as administrators. “It’s important to position the students to have the right qualifications to serve in a desired community — behavioral health, nutrition, a hospital, outpatient. There are so many different areas and Drexel is positioned well because of the Co-op program,” he said. 
Assuring students understand the accrediting standards and what the requirements are and assessing their qualifications are also part of what he considers his responsibility as an educator. “I see my job as making sure each student is prepared for whatever path he or she wants to follow be it licensure, developing skills and competencies or becoming qualified to do whatever is required by the healthcare setting they want to pursue.

Written by Roberta S. Perry