Shelly Ford was in high school when she fell in love with occupational therapy.
“I actually thought I wanted to be an accountant. But when I started doing volunteer work in a hospital, I learned more about occupational therapy,” said Shelly. “I followed a therapist for a day, and I was really intrigued by the types of patients she saw and the variability of what she was doing day-to-day. I’m very much a people person, and I wanted to help people. I knew this was the career for me.”
Now as the occupational therapy manager for IU Health Methodist, University and Saxony hospitals, Shelly says she’s passionate about her work.
“What I love most about my current role is that it’s never the same day twice,” she explains. “I thrive in an environment where it’s not cookie cutter, and it’s very fast faced. Even in leadership, when I’m not seeing patients, it’s never the same day twice.”
Shelly says she was looking for a way to expand her “toolbox”– to gain more business knowledge to do what she’s doing every day, better–when she learned about the Graduate Certificate in Medical Management at the Kelley School of Business, and she decided to go for it.
“The opportunity came about at a perfect time in my life. I want to do my current job better; I want to lead my team and manage my department better, and I think the Kelley’s graduate certificate will give me those tools to do just that.”
The graduate certificate, offered on IUPUI’s campus, provides business training to non-physician healthcare providers. It’s a 12-month program that gives healthcare professionals like Shelly the business knowledge and skills they need to lead a healthcare team and to implement changes that improve patient care and outcomes.
Just halfway through the program, Shelly says she’s already used her Kelley business education to help guide what she’s doing.
“Right now, I’m in the accounting course, and the timing is perfect. Our department recently had a restructuring, and I’m handling more of the budget. The skills I’m picking up are useful every day as I look at expenditures, resources and salaries,” said Shelly.
“My first course was focused on leadership, and it’s so important to always improve and add to what I know when it comes to leading a team,” she added. “Not every person you lead is led in the same way. Being mindful of individual needs is crucial, just as knowing that every situation may require a different approach.”
“I think a business mind is imperative—even for those who aren’t in leadership. Understanding how the ‘business of healthcare’ works can enhance how you perform as a healthcare professional, and it can give you a better perspective of how your organization is run. Even if you’re not the one making the decisions, you can help influence decisions and speak the language in planning meetings.”
“If you’re thinking about leadership, the Kelley graduate certificate will help hone your leadership skills and teach you about budgets, how to plan projects and make decisions. It gives you a seat at the table because you can see the bigger picture.”
Shelly says that’s what it’s really about – benefiting patients by keeping in mind the bigger picture.
“Our main focus is always the patients, but to provide good, quality, safe patient care, you must be mindful of how the business is run,” said Shelly. “You have to have money to pay your employees, buy equipment, buy resources and keep the lights on. You have to update as new technology is available, and implement new processes and procedures if a new way is more efficient. All of that raises the bar for our patients.”
She’s also enjoyed the learning environment and getting to know Kelley professors.
“You have candid conversations with the faculty who are experts in what they do, and it’s an intimate setting. I also have gotten to know my classmates, and I’ve really enjoyed it thus far.”
“I feel a renewed passion for learning,” she added. “You make time for things that add value, and this is definitely adding value. I feel like this was a good investment in myself. It will not only benefit me in the future, but it’ll benefit my team and the patients. We will have better management of our budget, better leadership and better outcomes.”