Jobs in healthcare administration are getting harder to come by, but many opportunities for minority managers exist in non-acute-care settings, said Nathaniel Wesley, an administrator at Washington's Howard University Hospital and author of the National Black Health Leadership Directory.
One of the hottest areas in the nation's rapidly restructuring delivery system is managed care. A new fellowship program being rolled out next month is designed to prepare minorities for positions in HMOs and other managed-care settings. Sponsored by the Group Health Foundation, the not-for-profit educational arm of the Group Health Association of America, the yearlong program combines classwork at Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health with hands-on experience in an HMO. Fellows earn a certificate of completion.
As of early April, 13 of the 15 fellows had been selected from a pool of 135 applicants. Many are employed in hospitals, HMOs, community health centers and governmental agencies, and come from diverse educational backgrounds. The fellows will train in one or two of 11 Baltimore and Washington-area HMOs in the program. More than 40 HMOs nationwide already have expressed interest in hiring a graduate of the program, said Judith Cahill, senior vice president for member services and operations at the Washington-based trade group.
And requests for applications are still pouring in, said Janis Nero Phillips, director of the Group Health Foundation's minority training program. She said the level of interest shows a real need in the minority community for opportunities to advance in managed-care administration.
GHAA began developing the program in 1992 with a $100,000 grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration, an arm of the U.S. Public Health Service. The program grew out of concerns that minorities were underrepresented in managerial positions at the nation's HMOs and that the managed-care industry wasn't well positioned to address the needs of the minority populations it serves, Ms. Cahill said.
It's estimated that minorities represent less than 10% of HMO management. GHAA hopes to boost that number but hasn't set a percentage goal.
Thomas W. Chapman, chief executive officer and senior associate vice president for network development at 425-bed George Washington University Hospital in Washington, is one of the program's initial cheerleaders. "I pushed them on the (managed-care training) program there because I felt that's where the future is," he said.
So far, five managed-care plans and Kansas City, Mo.-based pharmaceutical giant Marion Merrell Dow have agreed to sponsor fellows. The $38,000 sponsorship fee includes a $27,000 stipend and $11,000 for tuition and related expenses. In addition, more than 250 members of the GHAA have contributed a total of $400,000 toward the program.
GHAA staff will seek feedback on fellows' areas of interest and provide placement counseling.
Despite several years of planning for the fellowship program, the complexion of GHAA's own board remains largely white. "It's still not great," Ms. Cahill admitted. The 24-member board includes two African-Americans and two women.