Incoming student Valerie Rodgers has always had an empathetic personality since the time she was young. “I have a strong desire to help people,” she says. She grew up admiring her mother, a lifelong nurse. However, Rodgers realized her squeamishness around blood was not conducive to a career in a clinical setting and decided to pursue a focus in health care in a different way.
“I want to contribute to something that improves people’s lives,” Rodgers, a graduate of Duquesne University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a focus in marketing, international business and economics explains.
For five years, Rodgers has worked for the Bank of New York Mellon and is currently a Vice President in their Healthcare Market Segment Team, a group within the company’s Treasury Services business unit. Her team is entrepreneurial in spirit and focuses on traditional product management activities like product strategy and development, technical analysis and specification gathering, relationship management and implementations for healthcare providers and payers throughout the stages of the revenue cycle.
Over the last few years, Rodgers has been engaged in the nitty-gritty details of the space, learning about the “good, the bad, and the ugly” in American healthcare. She sees a large disconnect between what is discussed in the industry versus what is actually happening on the ground.
As an example, stemming from her own experiences, she is very adamant that patients should be empowered to access their healthcare data and be a partner in making well-informed care decisions. She states “we have made great strides on this, but I do not think we are quite there yet.”
Rodgers wants to help the sector identify inconsistencies and inefficiencies that occur and bridge those gaps to lead to overall business practice improvements as well as patient experience. In addition, she wants to help unravel the critical knot of balancing coverage, cost, and quality while combatting health care disparities.
“Being at the intersection of finance, healthcare and technology, I am seeing shifts in all of these things at varying rates—whether that be payment methods and reforms, technological advancements or even overall healthcare landscape changes—with that comes the need for policy and sound evaluation methods to aid in decision making,” she says. “Being in a position to interpret and craft mathematical research that back policies that have the potential to make real, meaningful change is a driving motivational factor for me.”
Rodgers adds that “the fact that I can attend two world-class institutions, continue working, and apply what I am learning while pursuing an advanced degree is a really unique experience.”
As a member of the inaugural class of the Double Executive Masters in Health Policy at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and the London School of Economics and Political Science, Rodgers is excited to expand her knowledge on analytical software tools and policy frameworks to create implementable decision models for the health care industry. She’s also enthusiastic about the international aspect of the program having had opportunities to experience U.S. health care and global counterparts in the past.
“I worked in England and studied in China and Italy. There are many differences—good and bad—between domestic and international healthcare. I think that we can all learn from each other,” Rodgers says. “Having a macroeconomic view of the space lends to a broader understanding of strengths and weaknesses exhibited by varying communities. I look forward to taking what I learn in this program and applying it to real life experiences.”
When asked why she wants to devote her career to healthcare, Rodgers says, “At the end of the day, we are all patients – being able to make a positive impact in an industry that has a lot of opportunity for change would be a fulfilling career for me.”