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A Pipeline of Talent Prepared to Foster Professional Diversity

October 26, 2015

Students in the Health Administration Department are gaining a professional edge thanks to a curriculum that prepares them to become health care leaders that embrace diversity, both in the workforce and in the patient population.
Michelle Sahl, PhD, associate professor and associate director of student professional development in the Health Administration Department said, “We teach about diversity throughout our program for students who are going to become health care managers and leaders. Our students learn how to work with a diverse workforce, and to understand how different cultures within an organization require new ways of thinking, leading, and succeeding.”  Health Administration courses focus on diversity, world cultures and vulnerable populations that reflect today‘s patients and consumers who come from diverse backgrounds.  We see diversity as something to promote, but also as something that’s inherent to the entire health care sector.
As part of building this caliber of professionalism and an awareness of the impact of working successfully across a broad scope of people, health administration students are encouraged to join professional organizations that grow health care leaders of the future. Sahl points students in the direction of three primary organizations.  The Healthcare Leadership Network of the Delaware Valley (HLNDV), which is a health care management and administration organization operating under the umbrella of the American College of Health Care Executives (ACHE), and the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) are two. Both national organizations have local chapters that have strong working relationships with respective Drexel student organizations. 
The third organization that supports this goal of professional preparedness is the National Association of Health Services Executives (NAHSE) – with strong local and national chapters.  NAHSE supports the development of African American health care executives, though membership is not limited to just one group. “In fact,” said Sahl, “students that attend their programs do so from a wide range of backgrounds, including Asian, Indian and Hispanic students as well. One of the officers of the local chapter has taught several of our Health Administration courses and encourages students to get involved in networking and professional development activities.”
Finding role models who represent  ’real world‘ examples for their own potential career path is also critical to professional development.  Many students, not just those from diverse backgrounds, don’t have role models or mentors they can turn to. Linking students with organizations that can offer these models will allow them to imporve their ability to develop important professional skills – time management, organization, public speaking, and networking. Some students don’t have those role models in their own background to get a sense of how to present themselves in the workforce,” said Sahl.
Graduates of the Health Administration program go on to become savvy health care managers who can work with coworkers and treat patients with a keen sense of cultural awareness, sensitivity and understanding.