Over the course of his career at Northwell Health, Ryon Andersen has worked in a variety of positions, from his start as a physical therapy aide to his current role as associate executive director at North Shore University Hospital (NSUH). His unique path from clinical to non-clinical professional equipped Ryon with the skills he needed to help him positively impact the financial and clinical operations of the hospital as an AED. Ryon’s career is also proof that there is not one straight career path to working in finance and operations within the healthcare industry.
Learn more about Ryon’s career path and how Northwell’s helping other professionals pursue non-clinical careers at Northwell in this month’s Appointment With.
What inspired you to move from pursuing a clinical career to a non-clinical career within healthcare?
I’ve always had an interest in community and public service which was reinforced when I joined my local fire department. While volunteering as a firefighter and EMT, I had the opportunity to assist Glen Cove Hospital with a disaster drill that was being run by their emergency department. This provided me with a small observation window into how a hospital operates. At the time my only knowledge was based on prehospital ambulance care. Further intrigued by the dynamics of providing care in a hospital setting, I decided to pursue a job as a physical therapy aide in the department of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Glen Cove. I truly enjoyed working alongside the clinical teams and helping patients learn to ambulate after injury or surgery. As time progressed and college commitments increased, I transferred to work as a unit support associate for the critical care and telemetry units. This opportunity gave me good insight into hospital flow, nursing unit dynamics, and the admission/registration process. This transition was especially important because it was a clear indication of how NorthShoreLIJ (at the time) supported development. My managers worked with my schedule so I could attend classes while maintaining employment. Upon finishing my degree, I decided to apply the skills I learned from my science classes to a new role at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research. Working in the department of experimental immunology as a research assistant, I was responsible for laboratory benchwork and quantitative data analysis.
These three experiences allowed me to gain unique skills and insights while learning about the culture of the organization, they strengthened my desire to continue to grow within the system. Over the course of this circuitous pathway, I met many mentors who pushed me explore all facets of the system and to not solely focus on clinical opportunities. Because we are a healthcare organization, I believe early careerists generally assume the only career pathways are clinical, but that’s not true. Being exposed to the broader landscape of opportunities led me to pursue a role as a project coordinator in hospital administration at NSUH. This allowed me to combine my clinical operations experience and my analytical skills within a hospital. Settled into my new position over the last 9 nine years at NSUH, I’ve grown into the role I am currently in as Associate Executive Director.
What is it like to work in finance and operations within a large tertiary hospital? What role does an administrator in finance/ops play?
Working in financial operations in any facility is quite dynamic and different every day. Hospitals are a 24/7 operation, and the NSUH campus is a bustling city. Whether it’s developing strategic business plans and investment opportunities, revamping processes to increase efficiency, creating a culture of teamwork, or constructing a new building, the push and pull of competing priorities makes the day go quickly. Specifically, a business operations administrator should create strong partnerships with clinical leaders and help support them and enhance decision making. They should utilize their business/analytical skills to help set and inform strategy. That said, the number one job of all hospital administrators should always be patient safety, to provide as safe an environment for patients and providers as possible.
Can you talk a little bit about the creation of the HMP and MAP programs and why is it important to mentor young professionals?
The Healthcare Management Program (HMP) and the Management Associate Program (MAP) were created to expand the talent onramps into healthcare business operations. These programs give us the opportunity to amplify the boarder healthcare career opportunities message and further compete for top talent. Central to every organization, regardless of size or industry, is its dependence on attracting and training a capable workforce. People are at the heart of every company and the quality and engagement of these individuals dramatically impact the overall success of an organization. The programs are structured to give associates a holistic understanding of the business as well as the overall mission of Northwell Health.
Through project work, they have a chance to explore finance, operations, clinical partnerships, quality management, human resources, and patient experience. Additionally, the programs naturally foster great mentorship opportunities. Mentorship is a core component of MAP. It is one of the most important attributes of a successful leader, cultivating talent and growing others is essential for both the mentor and mentee.
What is one piece of advice for someone looking to get into finance and ops in healthcare?
There is no one point of entry into the field, healthcare finance and operations takes on many forms. Whether you are working in revenue cycle and corporate finance or procurement and facilities management, you’re on the playing field. Every career experience you have and opportunity you gain will shape who you become as a leader. Continue to value the skills developed and lessons learned until you ultimately attain your career goals.