Learn more about the Saint Mary's Hospital Administrative Fellowship Program from prior Fellows Monica Wohlberg, MHA, and Chris Miller, MHA. Currently, Monica is a Business Development Consultant at SSM Health, and Chris is a Director at Regional Healthcare Associates, LLC. Here is what they had to say about our program.
Please tell us about some of your activities since your completion from the program (include job title and location, if applicable)
Monica: I was lucky enough to be offered the vacant Strategic Planning position at SMH toward the end of my fellowship program for which I am forever thankful. I remained in that role for about three and a half years, at which time I moved back to St. Louis with my growing family to be closer to the rest of our family. In St. Louis, I continued to progress my career in hospital/health system Strategic Planning roles and I am currently in a Strategy and Business Development role with SSM Health. As you can see below, my current title is Business Development Consultant.
Chris: Regional Healthcare Associates, Director and Franklin Medical Group, Business Manager
Tell us about one memory you have from your time in the program.
Monica: I have so many memories… As a fellow, I was quickly embraced as a member of leadership and as a part of the SMH family. One of the main memories from my fellowship was the Board Planning Advance in Newport, RI. It was a fun experience and as a Fellow, it was an excellent introduction to the Strategic Planning process, the challenges, and aspirations of the health system. It was great exposure to Board members and the senior leadership team.
Chris: The Administrative Fellowship program hosted by Saint Mary’s Hospital was an amazing opportunity to learn from a multidisciplinary team in a patient centered environment. The fellowship program introduced me to every aspect of hospital administration. Each phase of the learning process was supported by real world projects. The fellowship experience set me up for success when taking my first position.
What advice would you give a new student just starting the program?
Monica: Don’t stop learning. It’s so critical at this time to realize that you learn much more on the job than you do in the classroom. Jot down topics during meetings that you don’t fully understand or of which you have little knowledge. After the meeting, return to your computer and research and read about the topics so that you can understand the full context of what you just heard and are ready to contribute in the future. I can’t express how helpful this was for me.
Stretch yourself. Take on challenging opportunities/projects – especially those that are completely outside of your comfort zone and for which you have now knowledge. You will grow so much personally and will be recognized by leadership for doing so. When I was in my fellowship, the VP of Operations at the time gave me the task to solicit and coordinate an RFP process with vendors for a traffic study around the hospital campus and to prepare a recommendation – all while he was on vacation. I had no idea where to start, but pulled it off and am thankful to him to recognize the challenge and present it to me. The same thing happened when the previous President, Bob Ritz, asked me to figure out the Community Benefit guidelines and what we needed to do with them… that led into an enormous project, as you might imagine, and I progressively built and became responsible for the management of the Community Benefit program… again, another example of being presented with something for which I had no knowledge or skillset, but learned as much as I could and went with it.
Get to know as many of the leaders as possible, as soon as possible. Schedule face-to-face meetings with key directors and managers (clinical and non-clinical) to let them know who you are, your background, your interests, and what you hope to accomplish. Ask them to think of you if they need anything. Be confident, but know you still have a lot to learn. Ask questions
Express an interest to be involved in areas that interest you; don’t assume those experiences will come to you. Have fun, embrace SMH and be involved – enjoy every moment of your experience and the people you will meet. SMH is a special place.
Chris: Make every opportunity count and blossom where you are planted. Each role or project allows the student to learn a new core task.