Graduating HSM senior Paige Meyer looks back on the program before facing her future as a health care consultant

It was the tail-end of the pandemic when Paige Meyer became a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). She had started her college career playing softball for the University of Minnesota Duluth while pursuing a Health Care Management major on her journey to medical school; she believed that working as a CNA would give her practical experience and valuable insight into a doctor’s life.  

“I realized very quickly, after about eight months of care, that that was not the direction I wanted to go,” she recalls of her time working in a long term care facility. “I really appreciated the policy realm much more than the things I was doing day to day. I wanted to be part of that ‘change’ part. Because it makes you question, in direct care, why we have to do things the way we do. So I found myself gravitating toward the administrators” whose work supports health care practitioners and has a direct effect on how health care is delivered.  

Paige says she asked a lot of people a lot of questions.” What’s your job like?“ “Do you have anything to do with policy? “How did you get here?” One answer kept resurfacing: the Health Services Management (HSM) program in the College of Continuing and Professional Studies in the Twin Cities. Coincidentally, an injury ended her softball career, paving the way for a transfer and a new direction at the end of her sophomore year.   

What excites her most about the program? “Finding new ways to touch new sectors. We’re seeing a lot of jobs that people are getting—jobs and technologies that have not existed before, such as biomedical engineering advancements. The program is only 10 years old, so people are bringing new technologies and new thought processes into new spaces.” 

"The degree offers lots of opportunities for future health care leaders to study and explore as they prepare to affect change and improve health care delivery," says HSM Faculty Director Frances Fernandez.

Since joining the HSM program, Paige completed a summer internship that has led to a full-time job. As she prepares to graduate this May, we checked in to find out what she’s been up to and what she’s learned since transferring into HSM.

Paige Meyer stands on the East Bank Campus of the U of M with Northrop Mall behind her

Serving as HSM Student Club vice president

“We are mostly a networking club that brings together alumni and students who are interested in health care, so, connecting students with alumni. And we’re also working with the MHA (Master’s of Health Administration) program, which is ranked number two in the nation. Together we’ve conducted three workshops on topics like ‘How to talk to people on LinkedIn.’ And trying to bring meaning to the papers we’re writing in class in a workshop discussing the difference between writing in APA versus writing in another format, and why it’s relevant in the health care space.

“What I’ve learned is that you can do a lot more with the major than what you may originally anticipate. I think everybody thinks, 'long-term care.' But that’s not the only option. It can go anywhere.” 

Completing an internship

“When I first got into the program, I wasn’t really clear on what I could do post-graduation. So I interviewed many, many, many different professionals across different realms in order to find my internship.

“I interned last summer with Huron Consulting Group in Chicago. I was able to travel for meetings and get the perspective of what a consulting life could look like in just 10 weeks.”

Paige Meyer stands on the steps of an East Bank campus brownstone building with tall sandstone columns behind her, her right elbow resting on a ledge

Working as a teaching assistant

“I am a TA for Health Care Delivery Systems (HSM 3521). Taking that course was an eye-opening experience because some of the policies haven’t changed since the seventies, despite all the major changes that have taken place in society.

“In the class it’s ‘These are the things that we practice, whether it’s right or wrong. Let’s write about it. Let’s talk about it.’ For example, there are social determinants of health, which are things like access, education, economic stability, and social and community context, that have remained the same over decades. They don’t change and also the ways we care for patients affected by them hasn’t changed either. So it hasn’t gotten any better.”

Looking forward to starting a consulting position 

“The best part about consulting is that you get assigned to different levels and get exposed to different scopes of health care practice. So I’m really excited to transition and get a little bit of everything, because I feel like I can’t offer valuable recommendations for health care organizations to improve, without understanding the staff and patient perspective.”  

Advice for students: Reach out and ask questions 

“It can be overwhelming, trying to figure out what you want to do, if you think about all the possibilities. I like to start with one person. Like, you read their bio on LinkedIn. If it looks interesting, reach out to them and ask for an informal interview. You can ask questions like ‘What does this position mean in your perspective?’”

Monique Dubos is a writer and content strategist with the U of M College of Continuing and Professionals Studies, where she has covered the College’s noncredit professional development, construction management, health services management, and IT infrastructure programs since 2018. She has also written for the Institute on the Environment, the Minnesota Technical Assistance Program, and various publications. Connect with her via LinkedIn.