Along with targeting the youth segment, hospital facilities departments seeking strong future leaders should also consider another underrepresented demographic: women.
“We are seeing more women entering degree programs that lend themselves to careers in health facilities management,” says Tim Adams, FASHE, CHFM, CHC, director of member professional development, American Society for Healthcare Engineering. “Some of our premier success stories are from women who have graduated with these types of degree programs and gone onto leadership roles in hospitals,” Adams says.
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One example is Rachel Woznicki, who landed her job as a project engineer of design and construction at Indiana University Health, Indianapolis, in 2016 after earning a degree in computer graphics technology with a specialization in health care construction management from Purdue University in Lafayette, Ind.
Woznicki says she wasn’t dissuaded from entering a field traditionally dominated by men. In fact, she saw it as an opportunity.
“The fact that most of these positions are held by men was a factor in my career path,” says Woznicki. “I saw a gap in the industry and I have a love for the work, so it all lined up perfectly.”
The Purdue School of Construction Management is forging new ground in closing the gender gap, says Brad Benhart, assistant department head and associate professor of practice at Purdue.
“Women in our program have been hugely successful in what traditionally has been a male-dominated market segment,” he says. “They tend to be very committed to health care and have a vision for how they want to positively affect the health care built environment.”
Woznicki says she happened on the health care construction specialization by chance, “and I ended up loving it.”
“I quickly developed a passion for the quality of work needed to create a safe and relaxing patient experience,” she says.
Women like Woznicki, who is not the only female in her department, should be on the radar of hospitals seeking to factor diversity into their future pool of leaders, Benhart says. “Any firm that has a succession plan and is actively mentoring young people, men or women, is going to be successful.”