With a new $887.4 million trauma center set to open in December, San Francisco General Hospital plans to hire 100 nurses in a number of specialty areas. But for San Francisco nursing students halfway through their academic program, what are their chances of getting hired upon graduation and where would the jobs be? According to Susan Penner, DrPH, an adjunct professor at the University of San Francisco, students may be able to find employment with Accountable Care Organizations (ACO).

(Photo Courtesy of Susan Penner, DrPH)

(Photo Courtesy of Susan Penner, DrPH)

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What is your background and education? 

“I’ve been a registered nurse since 1974. I have a master’s degree in nursing and a doctorate in public health, both with an emphasis in administration. I’m currently an adjunct professor at the University of San Francisco and wrote a textbook called Economics and Financial Management for Nurses and Nurse Leaders.”

What is your area of expertise? 

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“I’ve been teaching health care financial management and grant writing for nonprofit and public health programs since the late 1990s. I have a strong commitment to making financial concepts accessible to nurses and other health professionals in my courses.”

What career advice can you share to students interested in a career in health care?

“If you’re pursuing a clinical career such as nursing, then first and foremost concentrate on developing clinical expertise. A strong foundation in clinical skills is essential for any practicing clinician. However, an important additional area of knowledge for anyone in the healthcare field is an understanding of health policy and finance. Health policy drives the decisions that are made around who provides and who receives health care. Health finance drives the allocation of resources for reimbursement and funding for health care.”

“One current example is the recent growth of Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), a new model of health care delivery and financing employed by Medicare and mandated by the Affordable Care Act of 2010. It’s likely that many students, particularly in the San Francisco Bay Area, will find jobs in ACOs. It’s therefore important that students have at least a basic understanding of concepts such as value-based purchasing, bundled payments and shared savings that are elements of the ACO model. Remember, the knowledge you possess as a new graduate must be continually updated if you’re going to be a state-of-the art professional.”

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Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on Examiner.com Examiner.com.