April 26, 2017 | Erin Bluvas, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sarah Sentmore is committed to a career in pediatric hospital administration, and she’s been crisscrossing the country to make it happen. The San Antonio native stayed in her home state to earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, but then it was time for adventure.
“I knew I wanted to go somewhere out of state as I’m always up for a new adventure and challenge,” Sentmore says of applying to the Department of Health Services Policy Management’s Master of Health Administration (MHA) program and making the move to South Carolina. “I searched for schools that would provide me a good education and opportunities outside of the classroom to enhance my learning.”
A graduate assistantship offer sealed the deal for Sentmore, who wanted to prioritize this crucial opportunity for hands-on experience. In fact, her program presented two opportunities for Sentmore to gain practical experience: a graduate assistantship with BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation during the first year of her MHA program and then another assistantship with Palmetto Health Heart Hospital.
I want to be able to improve the lives of children by making sure there are opportunities in healthcare that meet their needs holistically inside and outside of the hospital.
-Sarah Sentmore, MHA Graduate
In addition to practical experience, her work with Palmetto Health also introduced Sentmore to an important mentor in the health administration field: Vince Ford, Chief Community Health Services Officer at Palmetto Health. “We met my first semester at USC during a conference, and he has helped support me through decisions I have had to make,” says Sentmore. “He has also provided great insight on his experiences in healthcare. He is always willing to meet with me no matter how busy he is, and the advice he gives helps guide me in making the best decision for my life and career.”
Sentmore also gained experience as a Child Life Volunteer at Palmetto Children’s Hospital and as a Personal Touch Volunteer at both Palmetto Health Heart Hospital and Palmetto Health Richland-Emergency Room Department. She believes that this vast and varied set of healthcare experiences helped her to be selected for her next major move—an Administrative Fellowship with Children’s Mercy Kansas City, which will begin after she graduates in May with a 4.0 GPA.
“My passion for improving the lives of children showed through the interview process,” says Sentmore. “I made it known that I wanted to be there and believed it was the best fit for me with my experiences and the focus of Children’s Mercy.”
It is a great field of study and will always be challenging because healthcare is always changing. However, it is rewarding because you know that your future decisions as a healthcare leader can affect many lives.
-Sarah Sentmore, MHA Graduate
During her one-year fellowship, Sentmore will work in clinical and non-clinical areas through various projects and rotations and by shadowing senior leadership members. With this appointment, she plans to apply what she has learned through her MHA coursework and graduate assistantships.
Long-term, Sentmore will pursue a career as an administrator in pediatric hospital settings. “I want to be able to improve the lives of children by making sure there are opportunities in healthcare that meet their needs holistically inside and outside of the hospital,” she says. “I think it is important to understand that care extends into the community as well as the hospital setting.”
Choosing the Arnold School for her MHA program and making decisions to gain additional practical experience have certainly paid off for Sentmore as she prepares to begin her prestigious fellowship. “I would say to really take advantage of any opportunity to work or volunteer within a healthcare organization while getting your degree,” she advises prospective health administration students. “The education you receive in the classroom is good but to really understand and apply it, look for opportunities outside the classroom. It is a great field of study and will always be challenging because healthcare is always changing. However, it is rewarding because you know that your future decisions as a healthcare leader can affect many lives.”