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Health Care Management Classes Help Hospital Employee Refine Her Skills

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-Health Care and Leadership Management Certificate student Kathleen Merrick

Kathleen Merrick approaches patient care from a holistic point of view.

As an ophthalmology patient service specialist at UVM Medical Center, Merrick is on the front lines of health care customer service as she spends her days guiding patients as they schedule appointments or register for procedures.

“My job is to look around and see the whole person,” says Merrick. “I love that kind of patient care because it goes much deeper than just coming in for an eye exam.”

After joining UVM Medical Center seven months ago, Merrick completed UVM’s Health Care Leadership and Management Professional Certificate Program earlier this year.  The health care management classes include five, one-day seminars that are focused on project management, data-driven decision making, strategy and management, change management, and how to lead and develop employees.

Merrick owned a wellness practice in New York State for nearly 17 years before she decided to change gears in 2016. After selling the practice, she and her husband bought a camper and traveled around before deciding to settle in Vermont. When her husband became sick with heart problems and was admitted to UVM Medical Center last year, Merrick found herself drawn back to patient care.

“When I had to come to the hospital, which was often, we were making big decisions about my husband’s health,” she says. “I didn’t find the environment stressful because there were always kind people greeting me, and people checking in with me as a wife and a caregiver. I loved how doctors, nurses, and staff acknowledged and respected that—they took the whole family into the decision-making process. They focused on the patient first and foremost, but they also took a wider, more holistic view of how to support a family. And that’s exactly how I ran my wellness practice.”

Health Care Management Classes Tackle Decision Making, Project Management, Strategy

Even with her previous experience, Merrick knew she had things to learn about working in health care, which prompted her to sign up for the UVM Health Care Leadership and Management Program. One part of the program that she found the most valuable was the Data-Driven Decision Making: Management by Fact seminar.

“In my whole lifetime experience, I’ve relied on my gut and intuition. Taking this leadership program helped me balance my intuition with fact-based decisions,” Merrick says. “Data-driven decision making extends beyond the patient care. It can include everything from speaking to a colleague, checking with the provider, and asking for more information. Even though I know a lot about health care at this point in my career, I’m always learning and finding the right balance for best patient care.”

Merrick, who describes herself as happy, persistent and caring, says she finds this stage of her career to be the most rewarding.

“I’ve loved everything I’ve done up to this point in my career, and my new job combines everything I enjoy most,” she says. “I have a lot of experience and have worked for many years, but I feel like what I’m doing right now is the best combination.”

Register for UVM’s Health Care Leadership and Management Professional Certificate Program