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Sunday, August 30, 2009

The demand for talented leaders in health care is only going to go up

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Midcareer managers and other workers have been migrating to health care jobs for years, of course. Now, with the recession, the lure is even stronger. Hospitals, which employ more than four million people, added 135,000 jobs last year and 19,400 more in the first half of 2009, even as millions of American workers wound up unemployed.

“The demand for talented leaders in health care is only going to go up,” predicted Jane Groves, a senior vice president at Integrated Healthcare Strategies, an executive search and consulting firm in Kansas City, Mo. “All that demand can’t and shouldn’t be filled by people already working in health care.”

Frank Pinkowsky worked as a manager at DuPont for 24 years before taking a position as senior vice president for human resources at the Guthrie Clinic in Sayre, Pa. “Don’t underestimate the value of what you learned working for someone else,” he advised.

Colin Ward, a 37-year-old Baltimore hospital executive, also successfully switched careers, leaving ESPN after eight years of producing sports broadcasts. “I felt like I wanted to be contributing in some other way,” he said.

After 11 months of graduate classes in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and a year as a paid apprentice at a Baltimore hospital, he had a master’s degree in health science and management.

Mr. Ward stayed at the hospital, Lifebridge Health, for three more years and in 2007 moved to his current post at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center in Towson, Md., as director of corporate strategy. Still a big sports fan, he produces Ravens football games for WBAL radio on weekends.

The Hopkins school, which also offers a three-year master’s of public health degree, is the largest of dozens of accredited graduate and undergraduate programs in hospital management. Many managers with experience in fields like human resources, finance and marketing find a welcome in health care, with a little studying up. Online courses, books, journals and professional magazines provide material.

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