Getting a checkup on the opportunities in healthcare for business students

Justin Krueger talks to students

by Jay Murdock, University Communications and Marketing

The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics states that between 2020 and 2030, employment in the healthcare industry is expected to grow by 16% -- more than 2.6 million jobs. Add in retirement of existing workers, and it becomes pretty apparent that there’s a lot of opportunities to be had, even for students who haven’t considered a career in the field so far.

“It took me a little bit to know I wanted to get into medical sales. First I was thinking criminology, maybe become a police officer. And then I knew I wanted to be in sales. And then after going through college, medical sales became more and more of an opportunity,” Stryker full line sales representative Kevin Hopkins said. “I shadowed a general surgeon who was doing a hernia repair. Being able to go in there, stand over his shoulder, see a patient cut open, see blood running out and not passing out, that's the first step, knowing that you're OK in the operating room,” he noted.

Hopkins joined orthopedic surgeon Brett McCoy and Bon Secours Mercy Health Fairfield Hospital & North Market president Justin Krueger in talking with students about the ever-changing healthcare ecosystem.

“My undergraduate degree was actually in food science and human nutrition. I was definitely one of those students that thought for sure I was going to go to either medical or dental school. So I chose that degree thinking I would knock some prerequisites out,” Krueger said. “I really had a change of heart around the latter part of my junior year and my senior year, and I decided to pursue healthcare administration. I didn't even know that was really an industry up until not much longer before that.”

McCoy noted that a lot of the coming growth in the healthcare space will be in the creation and operation of technology to help the patient and doctor experience  – but only if there’s value in doing it. “In the old days, somebody could say, ‘Hey, try this or do that,’ or, ‘This is really nice,’ and no one asked any questions. Things have to deliver value now.” He said. “I think it's only going to explode if we're proving that it saves money and improves outcomes, because the days of technology just for the sake of technology are done.”

The very nature of healthcare and hospitals is unique, Krueger said, and presents unique challenges. “We need to be a place where patients want to come and receive care and where physicians want to come and do their work. Healthcare is an interesting industry and a difficult one in that very few individuals actually want to be customers. That took me a little while to fully appreciate that. So we have to be delivering a level of service and clinical excellence that stands head and shoulders above the competition,” he said. “We have to make sure that we're delivering an exceptional patient experience as well as the physician experience, because the only people that can admit patients to hospitals are physicians.”

Hopkins said that medical supply firms like Stryker work to be a lot like anyone’s local supermarket. “Stryker wants to be like Kroger. You go down the cereal aisle, you see all cereal. In the hospital, we want all those boxes to say Stryker.” He noted that Stryker recently invested $5 billion to acquire another medical company. “We're now able to specialize in multiple orthopedic divisions, essentially plates, screws, nails, shoulder replacement, hip replacement, knee replacement, and have a hospital go just to us and have all those labels on the shelf be just us, while being able to provide the same value that we did before.”

Krueger said it’s going to be important in the future for health systems to consider newer and broader partnerships with universities like Miami.

“We've really just started to gain some traction at Miami with the potential future academic partnerships and in the simplest form, this is a good example of that exercise today -- Just being able to come in and talk about, ‘Hey, here's where we think the industry is headed. Here are things that we really need to prepare for the workforce of the future,’ because it's changing rapidly,” he said. “We've had a lot of preliminary meetings talking about how Miami University and Bon Secours Mercy Health can partner to come up with some of this curriculum. What are the next jobs in the future? Can we do capstone projects? Can I go to groups such as this and pitch real problems that are affecting hospitals today?”

So what should students do now if they’re thinking of a career in medicine? McCoy said that he wished that he’d take more Spanish classes, and that he’d learned more business at Miami. “I went to school here for four years. I've walked by a few times, but I’ve literally have never been in this business school. And so I think if you're training somebody to be a clinical physician or PA or therapist or whatever, there should be some required business curriculum too. It's kind of crazy that it's not,” he said. “It'd be hard to remember that all those years later, so you’d almost need some of refresher after four years of med school and five years of residency. But at least you understand the language and it sounds a little bit familiar when you come back to it.”

“I think change management and leadership are two very important classes, and if we can tie those into healthcare, it would make them even better, more well-rounded students,” Hopkins said. “If you come in and you want to work hard and you want to grind, and you want to be successful, a lot of times you can see that just from sitting across from somebody.”

“Learn about healthcare finance, have at least a foundational understanding of what that is, organizational behavior, and in particular, leadership,” Krueger said. “Just make sure that you’re passionate about what we do.”