Liberal Arts Degree to Healthcare Career: Video Transcript

Michele Molden (Miami, 1977) [President and CEO of Piedmont Heart Institute]: I can't think of a better career than a career in healthcare, either on the business side or the clinical side. We have 'the pig in the python,' which are the Baby Boomers who are going to be (and just started) retiring at an alarming rate. So, there's going to be a target-rich environment of need for good healthcare services.

But, more importantly, the thing that I've always enjoyed so much about healthcare is that I really feel you make a difference and, not only make a difference in terms of clinical care but with as much as we have to re-define our system and change it — fundamentally change it — it's a great opportunity for physicians, for business types, for anybody who really would like to make a difference, to be part of…granted, it will be a chaotic and tension-filled time of change, but I can't think of a way that people could have a better opportunity to not only apply their education but to learn a whole lot more and to do something that, again, impacts people at their most vulnerable moment. And we have a great system of healthcare in this country, so the opportunity to make it far better, I think, would be a wonderful challenge for anyone who really does want to make a difference.

I think what we…As a liberal arts undergraduate, I think the things that you hope to find in co-workers today are the things that I was taught. You have to write well. You have to be able to communicate well. And I believe communication and teamwork and interpersonal skills are still the basics of how anything gets done and particularly in the field of medicine. When you think about it, people who provide medical care, whether they're on the business side or on the clinical side, are dealing with folks at their most vulnerable time: and so, high emotional intelligence and all of those things that you learn more about on the liberal arts side when you're talking about and discussing things in class, when you're exposed to different points of view, when you have diversity of opinion that you can (even if it's not your own) respect. And, I think as we become multicultural, particularly in the healthcare field, being able to understand cultural differences and respect those becomes important.

"And so, I think that a basic liberal arts education that's founded on good writing, good communicating, good interaction. And that's one of the things that at Miami was such an advantage, because our classes were small enough that you didn't have 17,000 people in a class and you weren't interacting with a computer screen all the time. You really had the opportunity to work with professors and other students and teaching assistants to provide a more robust teaching experience. And I think that's important.

[April 2011]