What will health systems prioritize once Gen Z is running them?

Generation Z is inheriting a troubled healthcare system: staffing shortages, caregiver burnout, pandemic aftershocks, financial woes. But these industry challenges are not scaring young people away from healthcare — they're motivating them to run toward it. 

Becker's asked 12 master's students enrolled in leading healthcare administration programs why they chose to enter the field and what they will prioritize once they stand at hospitals' helms. 

Their answers revealed that healthcare is deeply personal to the rising generation, a sentiment that hasn't necessarily changed over the years, but has gained steam. Medicine has always been a connection-based field, driven by leaders who wish to make a difference. However, COVID-19 illustrated the necessity of strong health systems on an unprecedented level — inspiring young people to take action and right the wrongs they lived through in 2020. 

One of those wrongs is healthcare disparity. Many students wish to improve racial equity and cultural competence within the healthcare system, having witnessed injustice themselves. Aspiring chief equity officers would have been rare finds 20 years ago. That's not the case in 20-somethings nowadays.

Healthcare administration students referred to themselves as "change agents," expressing a desire to transform and innovate within the industry. They want to push boundaries, from technological advancements, to improved care delivery models, to greater levels of cultural competence.

Here's what else the rising generation told Becker's about where they aim to take the industry — and why. 

1. Kayla Quinn, 23. University of Michigan (Ann Arbor). Aspiring senior strategist: I chose to pursue a career in healthcare administration due to the abundant cracks within the behavioral health sector that I witnessed as a caretaker and provider. I am continuously inspired by patients and their support system's ability to navigate the fragmented healthcare landscape. My classmates also inspire me daily by their capacity for change while also being grounded in critical analysis and feasibility. Primary care doctors who understand the intersectionality of diagnoses and treat their patients as individuals inspire me to look at creating change even at a granular level. These inspirations drive my primary goal in healthcare: to leverage emerging technologies to create a personalized patient experience that extends the continuity of care beyond hospital walls.

2. David Fuller Jr., 24. University of Michigan (Ann Arbor). Aspiring CEO: I chose healthcare administration for my career because I want to improve the health status of historically underserved and marginalized communities in my hometown of metro Detroit. As the healthcare industry evolves and transforms the future of healthcare delivery, my generation will be the next servant leaders, change agents and disruptors of the status quo in the healthcare system. At a time when health equity is a focus for many healthcare organizations, much collaboration is needed across sectors to address health disparities and health inequities. I am committed to advancing this work to provide innovative, equitable, high-quality, patient-centered care for vulnerable populations.

3. Kate Libit, 20. Johns Hopkins Carey Business School (Baltimore). Aspiring nonprofit hospital CEO: The words "healthcare equity" and "healthcare equality" are coming to the forefront more and more, but I believe that there is still work to be done within the healthcare industry. I was born in the Philippines, and last month (16 years after coming to America), I became a U.S. citizen. I believe that being an immigrant living in Baltimore is my inspiration behind my drive to ensure that the people in the most disenfranchised part of the city have the same access to healthcare as someone who lives in Locust Point. I aspire to be a leader, a CEO of a nonprofit that is devoted to healthcare equity by increasing access to quality healthcare and reducing the impact of the social determinants of health.

4. Brian Britt, 25. Virginia Commonwealth University (Richmond). Aspiring vice president of network integration: I am driven by my want to reduce healthcare disparities and advocacy to address needs that go beyond biomedical issues to manage all biopsychosocial factors to save and improve lives. The challenge to become a change agent impacting the health of society and the well-being of clinicians is why I chose healthcare administration. The pursuit of this goal amid the ever-changing political and financial environment makes the task all the more compelling.

5. Teffin Benedict, 24. Columbia University (New York City). Aspiring COO: My interest in healthcare administration developed during a comparative health systems study abroad program in London. Living in a country where everyone agreed that healthcare is a fundamental right opened my eyes to administration as a path to making an impact in healthcare. Within a year, we entered the pandemic and witnessed the consequences of limited investment in public health globally. The backdrop for the Gen Z coming-of-age story is full of widening disparities and inequality paired with incremental social progress, so entering the workforce inspires me to join the healthcare leaders working to fix the problems that impact our patients and staff and help accelerate the healthcare ecosystem to a more just and equitable state. I am particularly interested in improving outcomes for vulnerable populations, the digital transformation of health systems, and how our generation will help build a more age-friendly healthcare system.

6. Kaitlyn Apodaca, 25. George Washington University (Washington, D.C.). Aspiring CEO: Healthcare administration is the intersection of what I am passionate about: the health of the whole person and shaping systems that treat individuals. My experiences as both a caregiver and a patient spurred my initial desire to bring my perspectives to the medical field. However, throughout my time at Boston College getting my degree in biochemistry, I realized that while I enjoy the science behind medicine, hands-on patient care was not a good fit. My undergraduate experience developed both my skill set and my understanding of analytics and systems thinking, while my experiences working in the corporate realm developed my operational, analytical, financial, and leadership skills. While discerning which profession I would pursue, these underlying principles guided my search. I want to make a positive impact, whether for an individual or a broader group, and I want to work for an organization that makes a difference in its community.

In striving toward creating emotionally and physically safe spaces for all individuals who interact with the healthcare industry — patients, caregivers, providers and staff — it is incumbent upon administration to improve our support structures for every person who steps through our doors. A resilient healthcare system recognizes the value of collaboration among its members, with open communication at every level. For our patients and their families, processing their diagnoses and making medical decisions is a vulnerable and stressful experience. When designing clinical processes, these perspectives need to be considered. This will help ensure each patient and their family is afforded ample opportunity to fully participate in the medical decision-making process. For our providers and staff, this means addressing systems-level issues that contribute to burnout in a thoughtful manner. In such an intricate system, as we invest in ourselves, we improve patient and caregiver experiences and outcomes. 

7. Gauri Kashal, 26. Saint Louis University. Aspiring pediatric hospital president and CEO: The healthcare sector is a machine that contains many moving parts that must coordinate with each other in order to function smoothly, and healthcare administrators make up the frame of this machine that keeps these parts together. That is what I want to be, a frame of the healthcare system that works to maintain collaboration and unity in healthcare organizations across the nation. As I was raised in a rural community, I have experienced firsthand the lack of access to high-quality healthcare in these areas. It has become my mission to work alongside my peers and other professionals in the healthcare sector to bridge this gap, specifically in pediatrics, as an empathetic and humble servant leader.

8. Moustapha Mbaye, 25. Saint Louis University. Aspiring health system president and CEO: I believe quality healthcare is a right that should be provided equally across the population, and increasing access is the first step. When considering social determinants of health, access to healthcare not only means access to hospitals or clinics, but also access to other resources that make it easier to live a healthier life. I chose to go into healthcare administration due to the lack of innovative care delivery models that support all patients, no matter the type of coverage they have. As a future healthcare leader, I strive to use creative thinking and modified evidence-based practices to push the boundaries on how care can be delivered to support the mind, body and spirit of the patients we serve. It has been said that healthcare takes longer than other industries to adapt, or change, but I am here to challenge that way of thinking and help other great leaders take healthcare further in the right direction.

9. Paige Bates, 26. University of Alabama-Birmingham. Aspiring COO of ambulatory care services: I chose to go into healthcare administration so that I could live out my deeply held value of human connection. From an early age, I was inspired by the concept that relationships matter in healthcare. In my experiences, healthcare rooted in understanding and connection went beyond the clinical care needs and genuinely cared for the whole person. Leading with human connection is what unlocks new possibilities for patients, caregivers, and leaders. It influences how we care for patients, collaborate in teams, and effectively lead change. Some would say we are the social media fixated, influencer generation. I say we are the human connection generation, leveraging technology to place human connection at the center of tackling some of healthcare's biggest challenges: health equity, consumer-centricity and everything in between. 

10. Rexx Hallyburton, 25. University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill). Aspiring hospital CEO: In 2020, I graduated with a job in investment banking and a plan to pursue a career in finance. However, I quickly realized that I needed a profession where I could have a tangible positive impact on people's lives. Simultaneously, the COVID-19 pandemic had stretched the healthcare system to its limits, and in doing so highlighted the critical need for strong leadership in the industry. The role of a healthcare leader seemed like a natural fit for me.

The challenges in healthcare administration are vast, complex and constantly evolving. As part of a new generation of leaders, I am excited to bring fresh perspectives and innovative solutions to these issues. In healthcare, the decisions we make can directly impact people's health and well-being. It is a huge responsibility, but it is also incredibly rewarding to know that the work we do can make a difference in someone's life.

11. Simone Bacon, 25. University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill). Aspiring chief diversity officer or community and social impact officer: Healthcare has always been deeper than a profession, rather the mechanism in which I hope to live out my purpose of facilitating healing and positivity in the lives of others. By pursuing a career in healthcare administration, I aim to inform how care is delivered and ultimately help make care more equitable and efficient for all patients. As the healthcare industry is rapidly changing, I am excited to embrace innovative models of care delivery while using a community-based approach to improve care quality and health outcomes for vulnerable populations.  

12. McKenna Hensley, 22. The Ohio State University (Columbus). Aspiring chief health equity officer: Coming from a public health background, I entered this program knowing that public health is my "why"; it is what drives me. I chose to pursue my MHA at Ohio State, seated in the College of Public Health, because I believe that it will serve as my "how"; how I can master the art of navigating through healthcare administration as a polyglot, fluent in the languages of not only public health, but finance, operations, policy and strategy. These skills will allow me to become a nuanced strategist, manager and advocate, with the best interest of the patient as a motivator for all that I do. Wherever I land, I intend to use my skills and passions to become a trailblazer in the field.

Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars