A season of gratitude

Alumni stories, department updates: Our fall newsletter has arrived.

A note from Paula H. Song, PhD, MHSA, MA | Richard M. Bracken Chair and Professor

When education is part of your life — whether that be as a parent, a student, or an instructor — autumn always feels like a fresh start. If that sense of new beginnings was missing last year, it’s definitely back this fall. At the VCU College of Health Professions, there is an unmistakable renewed energy: a new building, new faces, and new realities. As we embarked on our first in-person semester in 18 months, I continue to be simply thankful for the sense of hope and possibility that fills our halls.

Headshot of Paula SongWith a near-record candidate pool for our MHA and MSHA cohorts, our students enter the field at an exciting and demanding time. It gave me a renewed sense of hope to welcome new and returning students back to campus, and watch as our third-years — whose first was interrupted, and second was virtual — begin residency placements in-person around the nation.

Our students represent the changing face of health administration. In addition to one of our largest cohorts, this is also our most diverse. Healthcare management is a holistic concern, and students enter our classrooms knowing their work makes a difference every day in the lives of patients and their families. Healthcare organizations serve an essential role in local communities, and there is a critical need for healthcare leaders who reflect the diversity and voices of the communities they serve.

The work of health administrators affects people during some of the most challenging and stressful moments of their lives. The pandemic has taught us how important compassionate leadership is during times of crisis. In an environment like healthcare, where change is happening at a breakneck pace, our students have already learned lessons of quality leadership and adaptability. Many of our students cite the impressive alumni roster as a main factor in choosing VCU. As you’ll see in the coming pages, it’s obvious why: our alumni are engaging in some of the most critical and creative work in our industry.

It can’t be overlooked that our industry is a people and service-oriented one. As we head into this holiday season, I feel such profound gratitude for all the members of this community, from the students I see each day, to our amazing faculty, to our alumni and colleagues working across the globe. As we continue to move forward in this “new normal,” I’m thankful to be working alongside so many gifted minds that have called VCU (in the past, present, or future) home.

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