Sept. 26, 2011
CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – As soon as they heard about the conference focus – racial disparities in health care employment – the Slippery Rock University “seven” knew they had to attend. The students, seven minority health service administration majors who plan to work in the field, knew that arming themselves with information to confront the minority employment gap was critical, so they took it upon themselves to find a way to participate in the Las Vegas gathering.
Students applied for and received nearly $4,000 from the University to attend the Oct. 12-14 National Association of Health Services Executives Educational Conference. The conference will focus on the underrepresentation of minorities in heath care. NAHCE is a non-profit organization working to ensure greater participation of minorities in the delivery of health care.
SRU’s students intend to become the next generation of minority health care leaders, but they know it will take commitment and hard work.
“As far as disparities are concerned, I am not only a person of color; but I am a woman. Given that, I'll have to give 150 percent to be taken seriously as an employee within such a male dominated work field,” said Brittany McNeil of Pittsburgh. “I am going to the conference to get a better understanding of career opportunities in the health care field. I feel as though going to one that is held by people I share ethnicity is simply an incredible bonus. After college, I hope to find a decent job as a healthcare administrator, along with mentoring young women to achieve their goals and pursue higher learning.”
“I have aspirations to one day run my own non-profit health clinic and deal with issues such as teen pregnancy and drug addition,” said Cherie Olivis of Pittsburgh. “I am more than excited to be able to receive funding to go to this conference. I hope to gain lots of networks that can hopefully help me kick off my own goals after graduation. It also will be an experience in itself to be surrounded by successful African Americans in the health field.”
The other students who will attend are Mychael Lee of West Chester; Jennifer Lee of Middletown, Del., Amanda Shaw of New Kensington; Monica Smith of Aliquippa and Aubrianna Taylor of New Castle.
Students will participate in workshops and network with minority professionals committed to reducing ethnic disparities in health care leadership.
Current data in the health care management profession shows minorities represent 28 percent of the population in the U.S, yet only 3 percent of the health care profession. Also, it is known that minorities lag behind in terms of the services they receive in healthcare.
Disparities extend to health care provided to Americans as well as health insurance coverage. According to the U.S. Office of Office of Minority Health, 19.5 percent of Africans Americans have no health insurance, compared to 10.4 percent of whites.
SRU’s College of Business, Information and Social Sciences, is supporting the students’ participation as valuable career training.
“We are supporting the traveling initiative for students to get professional experience and how help prepare them for their future career. That’s exactly what this work will do, so the conference is a wonderful opportunity. It is everything right about what we do in education,” said Kurt Schimmel, SRU dean of the College of Business, Information and Social Sciences.
“Everybody is really excited,” said Mychael Lee. “It’s a beautiful experience when it comes to networking and receiving the opportunity to get a chance to speak with other health care professionals who are minorities and learning more about what it’s like for health care profession in the field who are minorities. It will be an tremendous learning experience.”
“I was so excited when we learned the funding had been approved,” said Jennifer Lee, who plans to become a sonographer. “My goal is to contribute to the well-being of other people by working and making a difference in the health care profession. Slippery Rock University has given me many opportunities to pursue my dream.”
She said her goal is to graduate from SRU, then enroll in a technical school to obtain a license for giving ultrasounds and X-rays.
“Attending this conference is important to me because it is a great opportunity to network with professionals and get an inside look at career options,” she said. “Getting to know other professionals and students in the field is a great opportunity and will expand my knowledge about the field and profession. I am excited to not only travel to the other side of the United States but to expand my horizon with those in the field and people who are like me pursuing similar career goals.”
Adding further insight into health care employment is Eric Conley, a 1990 SRU graduate and vice president of operations at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. Conley is mentoring the students, having formed professional partnership with John Bavaro, SRU associate professor of professional studies and director of the health services administration major.
“I am very impressed that the students actually took the initiative to attend the conference. I can’t say enough about that,” said Connolly, who majored in allied health. “Throughout their careers they will have to be able to take advantage of initiatives, to go the extra mile to make connections. I think it’s tremendous that the school is willing to fund this.”
Health service administration is one of the hottest programs at SRU. Pittsburgh Magazine named it one of the 12 best programs in the region for finding a job. Western Pennsylvania has a high percentage of elderly and health care is one of the fastest growing enterprises.
The National Association of Health Services Executives, founded in 1968, is a non-profit association that promotes the advancement and development of African-American health care leaders and works to elevate the quality of health care services in minority and underserved communities.
Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania’s premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.