James Madison University

Long-Term Care Company Has Strong Ties to HSA Program

By: Dina Manco
Posted October 27, 2015

The Health Services Administration (HSA) program strives to provide the tools and training necessary for its students to succeed in healthcare management careers. HSA graduates often find employment in the long-term care sector due to the growth in our country's aging population and the expansion in the number of senior and long-term care facilities.  The HSA program has developed relationships with a number of long-term care  companies in Virginia , particularly American Healthcare, LLC. (AH).

Six years ago, American Healthcare approached the HSA program to recruit students. Since then, HSA Program Director Dr. Jon Thompson has helped facilitate internships between students and the company. In addition, he also refers graduates to AH for employment.

American Healthcare Chief Operating Officer Greg Dowdy says, "I was hired four years ago as a Regional VP of Operations. Since I took that job, there have been three regional hires since me and all three have been JMU grads. It's just extremely unusual how some have been [so young, in their] late 20's...[it's] because of the talent. We haven't had a single [JMU] person who hasn't been successful with our mission."

Dowdy attributes such success to JMU graduates' ability to solve problems creatively, as well as their high-energy and willingness to attack challenges.

HSA senior Jacquelyn Fries interned as an Administrator-in-Training (AIT) at the Heritage Hall King George location this summer. Her responsibilities included shadowing AH Vice President of Operations Chad Isabelle, attending staff meetings, facilitating meetings on building operations, and assisting in the hiring process for potential employees. Isabelle is a graduate of JMU's HSA Program.

Fries' experience in her internship solidified her passion for long-term care. According to her, even though American Healthcare is a for-profit company, it aims to treat its residents like family and make their well-being its top priority.

Isabelle comments, "We get to mold [interns and new hires] to our company's values, which is a huge asset to us. If we brought in somebody with eight years of experience – they are set in their ways. They are used to doing it however they've been doing it…if we bring someone in and give them a shot with no experience, we can teach them our company motto and values and how we care for people."

JMU HSA Alum and AH Administrator Nathan Yowell started off as an AIT under Isabelle. Early on in this position, Yowell was given leadership responsibilities. He says, "[Isabelle] kind of handed me the reins and I was running meetings, reviewing census, and staffing the facility within three weeks of starting. I was able to sit with Chad on all these solutions, and he would say 'What would you do in this situation?' He would constructively criticize and give answers to my response…It allowed me to analyze situations on a micro-level and how a decision can affect a building on a macro-level."

As Thompson says, the partnership between JMU HSA and American Healthcare is a "win-win" for everyone. JMU students can pursue their desired work in a family environment and American Healthcare receives well-trained students to carry out their mission in facilities across the state.

Yowell states, "American Healthcare is confident in the HSA program and knows that it creates hard-working, compassionate, information-hungry, self-motivated individuals." He adds, "I believe the relationship benefits JMU because…it means that the school is not only caring for the student during their time at the school, but are willing to invest in their students after they leave."

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