I was fascinated by study of the brain. I majored in psychobiology, with a special focus on the biological basis of behavior, while an undergraduate at Wellesley College. However, when it came time to conduct brain surgery on a rat, I realized I wasn't meant to work in a lab or practice medicine.
Even worse than opening up the scalp and implanting an electrode was the uncomfortable feeling when administering an injection for anesthesia while the rat was aware and wide awake. After this experience, I decided to pursue my career on the business side of healthcare. When asked what advice I have for others interested in a pursuing a career in healthcare, here is what I offer.
Be open and curious
Healthcare is a broad industry. I've gained knowledge and experience in healthcare technology, global marketing, health insurance, and pharmaceutical manufacturing. I've held roles in product development and marketing as well as consulting. Being open and curious allowed me to find new opportunities, apply my knowledge, learn new skills, and innovate—all the while staying within this one field.
Network with energy and enthusiasm
I received my master's in health finance and management from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. After graduate school, I participated in a two-year fellowship in hospital administration at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.
I was intrigued by the work performed by management consultants. The CFO of the medical center invited me to lunch with a consulting partner from Arthur Andersen. I accepted the opportunity. This connection led to a job in the Washington, DC office of the consultancy practice.
I spent five years in management consulting. During the dot com era, I moved on to gain experience with internet-based companies. I worked in a variety of roles, including managing the AOL partnership at Medscape. From there, I joined a global marketing and advertising agency on Madison Avenue, helping pharmaceutical manufacturers market their services to managed care companies.
This is the journey that led me to NextGen Healthcare, where I lead the strategic initiative for patient engagement, including incorporation of telehealth into our suite of solutions for ambulatory practice. Networking with peers and colleagues enabled most of my career moves.
Because of my youthful appearance, well-intentioned male colleagues advised me to wear more make-up to look older. They also told me to wear my reading glasses more often because they made me look like a professor. This wasn’t me.
To enhance my professional presence, I wore dark suits and added scarves. This worked well until I had to go the airport and board a plane. I was often mistaken for a flight attendant. Even flight attendants thought I was a flight attendant.
I still like to wear scarves, but to this day, I won't wear a navy suit with a scarf on a plane. I learned that the best way to enhance your professional presence is to be your authentic self, which for me includes incorporating storytelling and humor.
Go for it
I advise anyone considering a career in healthcare to go for it. Be open and curious, network with energy and enthusiasm, and be authentic. There is the opportunity to help others, find success, and enjoy the rewards of a growing field. It's a no brainer.