After months of research and preparation, seven health care administration students headed to Florida to present their research, learn from seminars and network with professionals in the field they someday hope to work.
The HCAD students attended the 2013 American College of Health Care Administrators Convocation and Exposition, held April 12 through 16 in Orlando.
They were recipients of ACHCA Student Poster Session Scholarships, which are funded by a grant from the ACHCA Sister Joan Cassidy and Michael Cuseo Cultural Diversity Endowment Fund. Along with additional funding from the Office of Research and Scholarly Programs the students were able to travel expense-free.
ACHCA is a national organization for healthcare administration. Junior Andrew Sedrak, who presented his research at the convocation after working as a research assistant to Doug Olson, said ACHCA serves to “unify one voice as administrators.”
The students who attended the event are members of the student chapter of ACHCA on campus.
Along with attending seminars, listening to keynote speakers, and presenting their posters at the student poster session of the convocation the students had the opportunity to network with the field’s top professionals, which sophomore Bridget Staberg considered the most important part of the trip.
“I just think it’s really important to get out there and meet all the people because it really is a small world in health care so just being able to network and connect with the professionals at the conference really was helpful,” Staberg said.
Even though some of the professionals in attendance collaborated with students on their research, the Eau Claire students were the only students who attended the conference of otherwise all professionals. Therefore the students had plenty of time to make a good impression when presenting their research. Senior Heather Kjelstad said she thought the presentation of her research made it feel like her hard work paid off.
“You spend a lot of time working on your poster and research and learning all this stuff and then being able to share it with professionals in the field was really cool,” Kjelstad said. “They definitely took them seriously and were very interested in them.”
Sophomore Eric Andersen said he felt talking firsthand with the people who deal professionally with the issues he researched made him think deeper about the research he’s spent nearly two years on.
“We talked to a bunch of administrators who came up and commented on our research. It made me think a little bit more about the research and engaged in it a lot more,” Andersen said.
Being that they were the only seven students at the convocation Staberg felt lucky to have the opportunities Eau Claire provides her with.
“A lot of them just don’t have the same opportunities and resources like this that we have here.”