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College of Public Health

Nathan Cunningham

Nathan Cunningham

2014 Master of Public Health - Health Services Management and Policy

Currently:
Patient Experience and Informatics Department Coordinator
Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center 

"With the PPACA policy being so new in 2014, my knowledge gained at ETSU was a huge advantage. I entered the hospital field understanding the context from which the policy was built, the expected rollout, and the consequences on hospital quality and finance." 

Question: How did your education prepare you for the real world?

With the PPACA policy being so new in 2014, my knowledge gained at ETSU was a huge advantage. I entered the hospital field understanding the context from which the policy was built, the expected rollout, and the consequences on hospital quality & finance.

Because of its juvenile age at the time, I was one of the go-to resources in my organization for information on the policy. I now operate the Patient Experience department (HCAHPS) which is directly tied into the Value-Based Purchasing facet of the PPACA.

Question: What is one thing you wish you had known when you were a student?  

I wish I had looked into Administrative Fellowship programs in the summer before/early fall of my 2nd year. Lots of hospitals offer Administrative Fellowship programs following completion of grad school. These fellowship programs are between 1-2 years in length and offer a comprehensive approach to fast-tracking you into the administrative workings of a hospital or health system.

As a fellow, you will rotate among executives and handle a myriad of projects preparing you for a career in health administration. Think of it as a super-charged paid internship with a guaranteed job waiting at the end. They are fantastic opportunities and make you quite marketable in health administration circles.

Any other thoughts?

ETSU COPH faculty have so many connections in the health care & public health world. We are EXTREMELY fortunate to have such reputable professionals as our mentors and professors. Ask them for contacts! Seek their advice outside the classroom!

During my 1st year, I sent an email to my department faculty explaining my career goals and asking if they knew anyone in the field I could reach out to for internships or shadowing experience. Dr. Khoury was one of many that immediately provided me a list of names and their contact information. I "cold-called" about 15 of these people and arranged meetings with a few that could make the time. From these meetings launched a great mentoring relationship under the Chief Quality & Informatics Officer at Wellmont Health System. His guidance led me to my PPACA policy-focused career. We remain in touch to this day. There is a strong possibility I would not be in my career field without the help of Dr. Khoury facilitating this relationship.

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