By: John Jackson
One of the best things about being an Industrial Engineer is the opportunity to work in just about any industry that interests you. To me, the healthcare industry offers endless opportunities and an exciting work experience.
Whether you are fresh out of school or just thinking of a change, health care provides a wide range of opportunities and challenges because virtually every Industrial Engineering skill can be applied in some way to health care. The exciting thing about health care is that now, more than ever, Industrial Engineers are needed to improve and re-imagine our nation’s total health system.
I have worked at Shands Healthcare, a large academic health center in Gainesville, Florida, for the last two years. The first year and a half of my time with Shands Healthcare I was an intern for the Management Engineering Consulting Services Department while finishing my degree at the University of Florida. After graduating I continued working full time as an internal consultant for the hospital. While not all hospitals have internal consultants, or frequently referred to as “Management Engineers”, it is certainly a growing trend which provides a potential job in almost every city in the nation.
In the healthcare arena, I have had the opportunity to be involved in a wide variety of projects including: process improvement, labor productivity benchmarking, simulation, facility design, project management and database design to name just a few. Industrial Engineers are uniquely positioned in the health care industry because engineering the health care process is a relatively new concept. Because of that, most people in the health care industry are unfamiliar with the tools and skills that Industrial Engineers can bring to the table. I have been in more than one meeting with a client that was amazed by the services and analysis that I could provide. The clients in a hospital setting are doctors, nurses, and managers who are all highly intelligent and motivated to solve problems. This makes helping solve their “unsolvable” problems very satisfying and rewarding.
Working within a hospital isn’t the only way to build a career in the healthcare industry. There are many consulting companies around the nation who provide services to hospitals and other health care providers. There are also careers in sales, manufacturing, and IT either for healthcare companies or a vendor to healthcare companies. A great way to find these companies is through IIE’s Society for Health Systems (SHS). The society is large enough to host an annual conference, seminars, and webinars all with a health systems focus.
So, if you like challenging projects in a stimulating environment that provides a very valuable contribution to the overall health of a community, consider becoming a health care management engineer!