Fellows transitioning from a master’s program to a career in healthcare apply graduate study principles to a fully integrated healthcare delivery system.
Lauren Bline, MHA, and Karan Shah, MHA, the two fellows selected for the 2020-2021 program year, found the fellowship to be a priceless tool in furthering their professional development and skills as they managed projects and navigated the Carle Health system.
“Our preceptors had high expectations of us, which pushed us in a good way to meet those. Having senior level expectations for us in our first year was great in understanding the deliverables,” Bline said.
People unfamiliar with an administrative fellowship may assume that the program is simply a type of postgraduate internship; however, Shah explained this isn’t the case.
“A lot of graduate students complete internships between their first and second year. With that, they may get experience in one specific area, but with a fellowship, you have a one-year, bird’s-eye experience of being able to not only take on different requests, but also work with different leaders. And you get exposure by shadowing them and conversing with them. With a fellowship, you can really find out where your interests lie,” Shah said.
The preceptors encouraged the fellows to manage projects that interest them in a variety of areas. Shah’s involvement on the BEST program enabled him to speak with every department lead and watch how each department’s project affected the organization. Bline’s work on both the provider and payor side of Carle Health gave her a deeper understanding of the complexities of healthcare. While they worked on different efforts, both agreed communication was a key ingredient to their success.
“We had a variety of projects where we had to change our thinking going from one meeting to another. With different projects, you have different leads, different outcomes and different communication needs. It was important to set expectations in the beginning and have a running relationship where you go through each project’s requirements, next steps and communicate progress,” Shah said.
“We had to adjust for each project,” Bline said. “Leaders and team members had to be communicated with and held accountable in different ways. Managing up was important; communication was key.”
If their fellowship were a soup, then the broth that gives the dish its flavor would be the remarkable mentoring they received.
“Our preceptors offered positive feedback as well as opportunities because we’re always learning and improving. And every time I met with April (Vogelsang), she asked, ‘Is there anything I can do better? What can I do for you? Do you have any feedback for me?’ That’s just one example of how they taught us and is also a leadership trait in itself,” Bline said.
Not only did their mentors and other executives lead and support the fellows, but Shah noted how across the organization, folks were eager to assist in their development.
“A number of project leads reached out to offer us guidance throughout our fellowship. They even offered to mentor us post-fellowship. The formal mentors we had were great in guiding us, but also having those informal mentors help us along our journey was great because that was something we didn’t expect. We not only grew from our preceptors, but from everyone we worked with,” he said.
Just as the fellowship helps Bline and Shah become successful leaders in their careers, Carle Health recognizes the value the fellows bring to the organization with their fresh perspectives and innovative ideas.
“We’re always looking to bring talented individuals to our organization. With this program, we’ve retained many incredible fellows who decided to continue on their career path at Carle Health,” RaeAnn Ronk, vice president of Human Resources said. “Moreover, we’re able to share our culture of gratitude and instill best practices in these professionals who will carry this with them out into the world.”
And that culture made quite an impression on the fellows.
“Lauren and I noticed when we first came here just how very comfortable and warm the culture of Carle is. And after the first couple of weeks, talking to and shadowing different leaders really solidified for us the accessibility and collaborative nature. Everyone in the organization has everyone else’s best interests in mind,” Shah said.
For those considering Carle Health’s administrative fellowship, Bline has some advice.
“We’re trying to become the best leaders we can be. Getting this experience and exposure to all the leaders at Carle, and the ability to work across departments so you can get a sense for what you love to do and what you’re passionate about – this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” she said.
The Carle Health Administration Fellowship is accepting applications for the 2022 program. For more information, visit https://carle.org/Careers/Administrative-Fellowship.
*Photo from June, 2021.