By Scott Bigelow
Persistence paid off for UNC Pembroke graduate student Ron Gaskins, who was accepted this spring into a highly coveted hospital fellowship in Chicago.
Gaskins, who will graduate in May 2004 from the Master of Public Administration (MPA) program, will begin work in July at Lake Forest Hospital in suburban Chicago. The fellowship pays competitive wages and benefits and puts Gaskins into an intensive management-training environment.
"A health care fellowship is a transition between the academic world and health care management," Gaskins said. "I will work with the hospital CEO and senior level management to get exposure to a wide variety of management areas."
A Lumberton resident and 2001 UNCP graduate, Gaskins majored in Mass Communications with a public relations concentration. In his fellowship year, he will work in public relations, marketing, strategic, financial and clinical operations.
"It is a learning environment that leads to full-time employment," he said.
A hospital fellowship is a very valuable career experience, said Dr. Nicolas Giannatasio. A former hospital administrator, Dr. Giannatasio is coordinator of UNCP's MPA program.
"Ron is going to do very well in this fellowship," Dr. Giannatasio said. "He is a very good student and one of the most persistent young men I know."
Gaskins is the first MPA graduate from UNCP to be accepted into a fellowship from the relatively new MPA medical track, Dr. Giannatasio said.
"We had several students get into great internship programs, but Ron's accomplishment is a first for us," Dr. Giannatasio said. "This speaks well of Ron and of the strength of our program."
Gaskins said he applied for more than 50 fellowships that were posted on the web site of the American College of Health Care Executives. (UNCP Chancellor Allen C. Meadors is a senior fellow of the professional group.)
"Fellowships are located all over the country, and they are very competitive," Gaskins said. "I believe this shows that an MPA degree from UNCP is good training to get into hospital/health care management."
Lake Forest Foundation is a non-profit corporation that owns and operates the 214-bed Lake Forest Hospital, an 80-bed skilled nursing facility, a child care center, several medical office buildings, two fitness centers and a new $22 million women's center.
Gaskins said several positive experiences at UNCP convinced him that health care was the right career field for him.
"I had some classes that exposed me to health care, but, as a graduate assistant, I got a job at Disability Support Services (DSS)," Gaskins said. "At DSS, I saw the positive role that health care agencies play in people's lives."
From there, Gaskins worked internships at Bladen County Hospital, Southeastern Regional Medical Center and Scotland Memorial Hospital.
"My experience interning at Scotland Memorial was awesome," he said. "I created a new management orientation program for them."
Gaskins shadowed top executive staff and helped Bladen County Hospital write a grant to expand its emergency room. He said the MPA program was the key that unlocked the doors of opportunity.
"It has been a really good program for me," Gaskins said. "I've had some great professors, and I've enjoyed it."
For more information on UNCP's Master of Public Administration Program, please call 910.521.6634 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The program offers day, evening and online classes for practicing and aspiring administrators in public sector organizations, and is also for executives in non-profit sectors, and in private organizations that interact consistently with public agencies or which maintain government or public affairs offices.