As he listened to Britt Berrett speak on the first day of class, Joseph Mount had the distinct impression he was looking at his future employer. Berrett’s passion for health care was unmistakable, and Mount wanted to be a part of it.
The next summer Mount interned for Berrett, president of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. That opportunity and the chance to pay it forward by sharing essential connections in the health care industry were possible thanks to the Executive Health Care Lecture Series.
Well into its second year, the half-credit course hosts a prominent health care executive each week. Visiting speakers talk to students about the rapidly changing industry and their varied work experiences. Perhaps most remarkable, they all participate on their own dime.
The motivation for the series originated with Berrett twenty-five years ago. As a BYU student he decided to pursue a health care career after hearing a lecture given by Mark Howard, then CEO of Utah Valley Regional Medical Center.
Now president of a 900-bed hospital, Berrett felt inspired to start an industry-focused lecture series at his alma mater.
“Nothing is more important than alumni reaching out to would-be professionals,” Berrett says. “Layer that with the greater purpose of health care and imagine how powerful it could be.”
Berrett kicks off the series each semester and is followed by a number of prominent administrators, including Rulon Stacey, chairman of the American College of Healthcare Executives and CEO of University of Colorado Health (formerly Poudre); Gary Newsome, CEO of Health Management Associates Inc.; and David Clark, CEO of Mercy Health System in Pennsylvania.
The class usually consists of forty students. Several majors are represented, including Russian, business, and neuro-science. Despite the variety in experience, the students have one thing in common—an interest in health care administration.
Brett Lee, who graduated in 2012, is one of the students who benefited from the program.
“I learned about different sectors of the industry and got a better idea of where I could contribute,” says Lee, who is now pursuing a master’s degree in health administration at the University of Washington. “The class also gave me the single biggest expansion of my network.”
Mount, who wrapped up his internship with Berrett in August, couldn’t agree more. By participating in the class, he built a professional network even before continuing his education in health services administration at George Washington University.
“I know many CEOs I can call for career mentoring,” Mount says. “I came out of my undergraduate schooling with more connections than many who have graduate degrees.”
The lecture series, while still in its infancy, has led to many successes. Berrett says the series has exceeded his expectations, and he hopes students will continue the tradition.