Bright Prognosis for Health Careers
Students interested in health science find Stonehill’s emphasis on internships, research, liberal arts and advising gives them a distinct advantage in this competitive field.
It’s easy to see where Julianne Earle’s priorities lie when she says the highlight of her weekends is a three-hour MCAT prep course she takes for medical school admission.
“I get butterflies thinking about it,” says Julianne, a junior biology major from Fall River, Massachusetts. “My friends tease me, but I get so excited when they address us as ‘future doctors.’”
Julianne is among a growing number of Stonehill students pursuing one of the College’s many paths to healthcare careers, several of which top this year’s U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Jobs” list. And whether they have their eye on providing care or on the managerial and leadership positions key to successful healthcare administration, Stonehill provides them with a combination of academics and experience that positions them to excel in graduate school and jobs throughout the field.
A Foundation with Breadth and Depth
Preparation for success starts with Stonehill’s Cornerstone Program of General Education. As students are exposed to the wide array of courses that fulfill the program’s core requirements, they learn to engage intellectually, think critically and communicate effectively—skills that are in high demand in healthcare fields.
This variety of courses also helps many students refine their path forward. A healthcare administration course, Healthcare Foundations, led Courtney Ouellet ’15 to her major. “I realized that healthcare administration was a good way for me to combine my business savvy with healthcare,” she says.
When the path involves graduate school, Stonehill’s growing list of academic partnerships with competitive graduate and professional schools can be a tremendous advantage. In addition to offering direct admission, some of the partnerships shorten the overall time needed to earn an advanced degree, offsetting tuition costs. And once students arrive at their graduate and professional schools, the academic foundation and professional experiences they received at Stonehill help them thrive in these challenging environments. “Our students consistently say they are well prepared,” says Andrew Leahy ’05, assistant director of Center for Career Development and pre-health professions advisor. “Science faculty members know how to challenge students to succeed in the faster pace of medical or veterinary school.”
Ben Irzyk ’10, who attended Boston University School of Dental Medicine and is completing his dental residency, notes that his exposure to Stonehill’s liberal arts curriculum helps him problem solve in his dental practice today. “Stonehill helped me to prepare for difficult exams and to become a comprehensive, critical thinker, rather than focus on cut-and-dry details,” he says.
Deeply Engaged Advisors Keep Students on Track
Leahy says advising is a key part of student preparation at Stonehill, providing direction on everything from course work and professional experiences to resume preparation and mock admissions interviews. “We help students build the strongest application around their strengths,” says Leahy. “I have an open door, and very real and honest conversations with the students.”
Leahy meets as early as freshman year with students from the moment they identify a pre-health career interest, a broad array that include medical, dental and veterinary school.
Sheila Barry, the pre-allied health professions advisor, provides coaching for students pursuing professions such as physician assistant, nurse practitioner, physical therapist, nutritionist and pharmacist; Rev. Thomas Gariepy, C.S.C., chair of the Healthcare Administration Department, provides the same guidance for his majors as they navigate their way toward careers that support and shape our healthcare system.
Irzyk says this strong healthcare advising gives students a decided advantage. “Everyone wants you to succeed, and they broaden your thinking and give you the tools to be successful in a competitive field.”
Among the most useful of those tools is applied learning opportunities. Stonehill’s emphasis on real-world experience helps students sharpen their focus and gain critical skills. “For students who believe their vocation is serving others by working in healthcare, participating in meaningful clinical experiences is so valuable,” says Dean of Academic Achievement Craig Almeida. “They help to confirm and clarify for 18-to-22-year-olds why they want to be healthcare practitioners, beyond the surface-level response of, ‘Because I want to help people.’” Graduate health professions program requirements vary, but all students are encouraged to gain clinical experience—often by shadowing a healthcare practitioner or volunteering in a hospital, clinic or private practice.
Experiential learning is also at the heart of Stonehill’s healthcare administration program, which is one of only a few undergraduate programs to hold certification from the Association of University Programs in Health Administration, with a 400-hour internship requirement that meets both college and professional standards.
After her Healthcare Foundations course helped her decide on a healthcare administration major, Courtney landed her internship through the Healthcare Supply Chain Management Initiative, begun by Stonehill alumnus Bob Simpson ’93. The experience—which included hospital tours, a national conference and a project presented to health system leaders—helped her develop insight critical to the formation of her career path. “The opportunity to go that deep into an internship, and have those experiences, sets Stonehill’s program apart,” she says.
A Holistic View of Health
Alumni often point out that one of the distinct advantages of Stonehill is its emphasis on the liberal arts and real-world experiences, which combine to give them the critical-thinking skills and broad knowledge base sought by today’s top healthcare organizations.
“I was challenged in science classes, but also exposed to other disciplines like humanities, biomedical ethics, healthcare administration and psychiatry—it helps make students well-rounded,” says Elisabeth Karafotias ’12, who is completing the physician assistant program at MCPHS University in Boston.
Similarly, Stonehill’s focus on global citizenship helps students understand healthcare from a broader perspective. Up to 40 percent of Stonehill students spend at least a semester abroad. “Those students emerge with a more mature view of our healthcare system, and its strengths and weaknesses,” says Gariepy.
Add to that Stonehill’s emphasis on social justice, service and values-based education, and you ultimately develop students capable of delivering compassionate care and championing the reforms that expand healthcare access in the community.
“Someone who wants to help and make an impact—that’s a Stonehill student,” says Leahy.