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From Inside the Classroom to Saving Lives

July 27, 2017

By Ryan O’Malley

Young man smiles at camera

Ryan O’Malley

Realizing the Importance of Health Care Management

For the last 16 years (and for the next 2) I have been a student. Many students graduate college and start to work. They quickly realize that everything they have learned in school is useless for their current profession. For me, I can safely say thus far it has not been that way. I just finished my undergraduate degree in health care management.  My internship is at Management Sciences for Health.  I think you can see the correlation yourself. My point is, I am fortunate that the USICD internship program has placed me at the real-world workplace version of my major.

Let me be honest with you, learning management in the classroom versus applying it in the work place is completely different.  Something that may seem entirely boring in the classroom all of a sudden is interesting in the workplace. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my major. But sometimes I sat there memorizing charts and wondered, am I really ever going to use this chart again?

Better management practices leads to better health outcomes. Anyone in health care will tell you that. The tricky part is how to achieve better management. For the sake of not boring you, I will not delve into the intricacies of management. Rather, I will discuss what I have learned about how management instruction from the Leadership Management and Governance project has impacted lives.  In Honduras, working together with the ministry of health, we have been able to better control the spread of HIV/AIDs. In Cote D’ Ivoire, MSH has brought better management techniques to help prepare clinics for another Ebola-like Epidemic.  These are just a couple of the impacts management technique has had on lives around the world.

That is why when it is a Friday afternoon and you are given an assignment to copy-edit a health care management instruction presentation that is 476 slides long, you are eager to do it. Because now I have seen the reports, the data, attended meetings and realized that maybe this little thing I am working on will help save lives in the future.

The reality of the situation in International Development is that it is a multi-faceted problem. Without infrastructure, institutes of education may not reach as many students or may not teach them as well. Without good quality education or fast, affordable, and reliable Internet access, the healthcare workforce may not be well educated or may have less access to information about good practices abroad. Without an educated healthcare workforce or access to information, chronic diseases go untreated and communicable diseases spread. The problems all run in a cycle. I may only be able to help with a small part of one problem in international development, but maybe the management knowledge I helped spread will be passed on for generations to come saving lives along the way.

Ryan O’Malley is a member of the 2017 cohort of the USICD Youth in International Development and Foreign Affairs internship program.  he and other USICD program interns are writing a series of blog posts about their experiences with USICD’s internship program and other topics, to be posted at this blog during the summer.  USICD coordinates the internship program, which brings a cohort of students and recent graduates with disabilities to Washington, DC, each summer to complete internships at various international organizations in the Washington, DC, area.  The internship program was enabled by funding support from  the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation(MEAF). Ryan O’Malley is completing his internship at Management Sciences for Health (MSH) . Read the biographies of our interns in the summer 2017 program.  Or read blog posts by other current and past interns. The views and opinions expressed at this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of USICD, MEAF, or MSH

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