On October 4, 2019, Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School students and faculty learned about non-clinical career opportunities in healthcare from industry leaders during the 2019 Healthcare Forum.

The day-long event featured presentations by top executives from different healthcare enterprises, including a hospital system, an insurance company, a health information technology company, and an occupational health company.

The forum underscored the business school’s commitment to preparing students to work on the business side of healthcare. “Mays realizes how important healthcare is to our nation’s and the world’s future prosperity,” said Dean Eli Jones ’82. “To that point, we have designated healthcare as one of three Grand Challenges in our Strategic Plan. This challenge was selected because of our faculty’s expertise, our focus on developing transformational leaders in this area, and the significant support provided by Mays partners.”

The Healthcare Forum gives students a chance to interact with and learn from top industry executives. “This annual event exposes business school students to the many non-clinical career paths available in healthcare and offers career advice as well,” said Dr. Leonard L. Berry, who is a University Distinguished Professor of Marketing at Mays and a senior fellow of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. “Most students don’t come to business school thinking about a healthcare career even though healthcare organizations have personnel needs in all of the functional areas studied in business school such as finance, marketing, human resources, and, of course, general management.”

The forum helped to expose Mays students to the possibilities of working in the healthcare industry. “Healthcare is such a broad field in general, and there’s so much you can do with it,” said Christopher Jabbour, ’21, a public health major. Jabbour attended the forum as part of a Mays course focused on healthcare.

 

A major industry

The forum’s speakers stressed that healthcare is an integral part of the U.S. landscape, both in terms of personal well-being and economic viability. “Healthcare is a crucial service that every person needs at various times in life,” Berry said. “It represents nearly one-fifth of the U.S. economy and is our fastest-growing labor market. Business school students can play a much bigger role in helping improve the quality and lower the cost of healthcare.”

The healthcare sector is a larger part of the nation’s economy than the oil and gas, banking and finance, and real estate industries. In her presentation, Shara McClure ’90, the divisional senior vice president of Texas Healthcare Delivery at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas, noted that in 2018, the healthcare sector was a $3.65 trillion industry; by 2025, this sector is projected to break $5 trillion.

 

Healthcare’s cost to society and to many households is unsustainably high with five percent of insured individuals driving 50 percent of the costs. The average cost of health insurance for a family of four is $22,000 annually.

The speakers stressed that they see tremendous opportunities for innovation ahead. “I don’t know where the future of healthcare leads, but I think there’s going to be tremendous opportunities,” said Heath Rushing ‘99, senior vice president and CEO of Memorial Hermann hospitals in Katy and Cypress. “The opportunities will just look different tomorrow than they do today as health systems work to deliver value to the consumer. I feel fortunate to work for a system that’s willing to challenge the status quo and create a structure that drives value to our patients. Having that consumer focus will help improve the health of the communities we serve.”

The healthcare executives who participated in the Mays forum were pleased with participants’ interest in this growing industry. “The students’ enthusiasm around opportunities in healthcare was incredible,” said Ben Melson ’82, senior vice president and chief financial officer at The University of Texas MD Anderson Center. “When I was attending Texas A&M in the 70s and 80s, there was no healthcare discussion. In today’s healthcare, we need young talent in all business fields – accounting, finance, marketing, industrial distribution, supply chain. Healthcare is ripe for this young talent, so it’s great to be here to show students what is available out there.”

The Mays students also expressed their interest in applying their knowledge of innovation and transformational leadership to help the healthcare sector evolve. “I think that the healthcare industry is currently faced with some major challenges that affect the overall success of this country. Our generation has the opportunity to do something about it,” said Eva Paalma ’18, who is earning a master’s degree in marketing and will graduate in December. “The vision of Mays has always been about building a better future, and it just seems like a very logical step for our business school to be part of the transformation in healthcare.”