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Building a Health Care Career: Rob Pursues a Healthcare Masters Online

Rob Fishwick, health care management major at Granite State College.

An Emerging 21st Century Health Care Leader

As society’s health care needs grow, pressure is put on the workforce to keep pace. Today, there are one million more openings for health care positions than there are qualified employees.

This gap challenges managers and practitioners across health care organizations to be more resourceful and innovative. It’s changing how the health care field approaches operations and patient care and in turn, it’s calling for a new brand of 21st century leaders to meet these demands. Rob Fishwick has his sights set on becoming one of those leaders.

Rob was first connected to the health care industry over 21 years ago when serving in the U.S. Navy.

After high school, I wasn’t ready for college so I decided to join the navy. When it came time to discuss my job assignment with a recruiter, medicine and health care interested me. From there, I became a hospital corpsman, which is a specialist who provides a wide range of EMT, prevention, and treatment medical services.

An active duty hospital corpsman in Operation Desert Storm, Rob was called on to respond in emergency situations. It was during this time that Rob recognized the critical importance of the cardio-respiratory system, giving him a new focus to his career trajectory.

The minute a patient isn’t breathing or something goes wrong, you often hear, “Where’s respiratory?” It’s a system that can fail very quickly and the first person you’ll want is an expert. This fascinated me immensely and I quickly realized respiratory therapy was going to be my path.

When Rob returned home, he applied for a competitive respiratory therapy program at a local community college. As a student, Rob balanced academics with military service, both in the U.S. Navy and National Guard. His experience as a hospital corpsman gave Rob a natural foundation for his studies and he was able to easily relate to the concepts and physiology covered in his classes.

After completing my associate degree, I worked in health care settings that specialized in respiratory care. Eventually, I took on a position at Dartmouth-Hitchcock where I worked in respiratory as part of their air medical transport team. Transport is exciting and rewarding, but after 10 years, I thought it was time for a change of pace.

During his time at Dartmouth- Hitchcock, Rob got to act as a team leader and he enjoyed the opportunity to combine his skills as a health care practitioner with leadership experience gained in the military. When searching for a new role, he was attracted to positions that would give him deeper insight into the managerial side of health care.

With support from his wife, Amanda, Rob applied for a supervisor role at an outpatient pulmonary rehab program at the Elliot Hospital where he’d focus on adult patients suffering from moderate to severe chronic lung disease.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure if the position was right for me. At Dartmouth, I was in a fast-paced, high stress environment dealing with neonatal pediatric patients during air transport. This new role was an 180-degree turn.

While the pace was different, the rewards of working with this population were just as rich. He enjoyed working with patients on a personal level, educating them on how to best manage their conditions. He also thrived from the teamwork in this new role, collaborating with nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and physicians on a daily basis.

It rekindled my passion for what I do and put it in a completely new light. I had always wanted to return to college for my bachelor’s and during this transitional phase is when I started to say, “I’m going to do it.”

Upon recommendations from trusted family and friends, Rob sought out Granite State College. The B.S. in Allied Health Leadership was a natural progress from his associate-level coursework and offered Rob the opportunity to deepen his skills in leadership and teamwork. With a location close to home and the convenience of online learning, the courses were able to fit into his busy schedule as a health care professional.

As Rob progressed in his studies, his courses helped him expand professionally with both the clinical and managerial aspects of his job.

My Finance class helped me understand the implications of the budget when sitting down with my director. Interpersonal Communication showed me ways that I can improve as a communicator and become a stronger leader. Emerging U.S. Health Care System exposed me to policy and legislation that impacts the patients I see every day.

Course-by-course, Rob’s immersion in his health care degree program gave him ideas for how to gain efficiencies, improve patient care, and break down organizational silos to help his department become a more integrated unit.

The way I see it, I have at least 20 years left in the workforce. I want to understand what’s coming next in health care and what patients need, and collaborate within my organization to achieve that result. To me, that’s a leader. That’s what I strive to be.

Recently, Rob graduated with bachelor's in Allied Health Leadership and currently and now he's taking courses in our new master's in health care management . His goal is to earn his graduate degree and continue his pursuit of becoming a 21st century health care leader!

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