Department of Political Science

Health administration students gain advantage in the job market thanks to Mayo Clinic conference

Published on Sep 19, 2016

Caroline Patton and Ashraf Ali smile easily as they reflect on their motivation to attend Transform 2016.

Patton and Ali were among 24 health administration students from Auburn University who attended the three-day Transform 2016 conference at the Mayo Clinic Civic Center, located in Rochester, Minnesota.

Patton says she is on the fence about whether she wants a career as a physician’s assistant or a health care administrator. She was hoping the conference would help her make a decision, but attending Transform has only peaked her interest in both fields.

“Maybe I can do both,” she says laughing.

For Ali, the draw is hearing all the different perspectives from professionals across health care. He has enjoyed the opportunity to meet with the speakers after their sessions.

If there were any question about whether the conference was applicable for college students, that question was answered early on. Reflecting on a presentation about advertising’s impact on health care from the opening day (Sept. 14), Patton says it all came full circle for her as one of her college papers was on the same topic. That’s just want Paula Bobrowski, Ph.D., had in mind.

Coming back year after year

Bobrowski has been bringing students to the Transform conference for the past four years.

“This is such a different experience for students and has a huge impact on them,” says Bobrowski associate dean for research and faculty development in the College of Liberal Arts. “We are really seeing how this impacts students and their classroom projects. It also is giving them a really big edge on the job market. When an employer sees that they have come to a conference about transformation and it has the Mayo name, it sets them apart.”

As a repeat visitor, Bobrowski has watched not only the conference format evolve, but also the conversation around health care itself.

“We tend to put health care in a small box,” she says.“In coming here over the years, I see how things are on a much grander scale now. Innovation and health care are interrelated. This is spreading from the small concept of health care into everything that we do.”

This conference, she says, is not just about the students attending in the current year. When they go back to Auburn University, the enthusiasm they share for the event inspires other students to want to attend as well.

Change: Difficult, not impossible

Day two of the conference was focused on change. Presenters Roger Martin, Teri Pipe and Denny Royal focus on the challenges that come with change and how best to deal with them. 

Royal’s presentation on biomimicry especially resonated with Bobrowski.

Biology has been adapting to change for billions of years, she says, citing Royal.

“What we do today, and what we do on this earth is going to have an impact on the whole future of mankind,” Bobrowski says. “We need to learn from nature — however many years of knowledge through change. What we learn today has its impact on the future. And that’s why thoughtfulness is really, really important.”

What if we could live in a world where we are not just responsive? What if we can predict when someone is about to go into a crisis and have systems in place to take care of them? What part will you play in solving these and other big problems in health care today? These were some of the questions presented by teams from Mt. Sinai Health System and City Health Works, as they addressed the challenges of closing the gap between clinic and community, individuals and systems in Harlem.

“The golden days of medicine are not behind us,” said Prabhjot Singh, M.D., Ph.D., of Mt. Sinai Health System in New York. “They are now, and they are moving forward. We have the courage to say that we don’t have all the answers, but they are out there.”

Therein lies the homework assignment – not just for the students from Auburn but all those attending Transform – to keep the conversation of keeping people in good health going.

Written by Uma Thangaraj, Public Affairs, Mayo Clinic