With a Master of Health Administration degree from the University of Southern California in hand, Gabe Garcia was ready to take the next step.
“I knew that I wanted to complete an administrative fellowship pretty early on because it gives you the opportunity to learn in situations that you normally wouldn’t be exposed to until perhaps 30 years into your career,” he said.
Garcia is a long-time Kaiser Permanente member impressed not only with the organization’s patient care but also its commitment to its LGBTQ+ employees. When he learned about its Northern California Administrative Fellowship Program, he knew he’d found the perfect fit and applied.
Today, Garcia is 1 of 4 current fellows in the program designed to grow future leaders by matching them with senior operational leaders for an immersive work experience.
Over a year, his work has spanned helping teams prepare for the move into the South Sacramento Medical Center’s soon-to-be expanded Emergency Department, to working on strategic projects with the North Valley service area’s Physician-in-Chiefs. Garcia’s next step? To find a permanent management position at the organization.
Rotations and a pipeline
The Northern California Administrative Fellowship is an 18- to 24-month program for masters-prepared individuals focused on developing their management and leadership skills in health care operations.
Fellows participate in 2 6-month rotations in Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and Health Plan and The Permanente Medical Group at local medical centers, with an option for an additional 6-month corporate rotation in regional or national offices. They receive career advice and support from the executive sponsors, program directors, facility preceptors, and fellow alumni.
“Our administrative fellows are doing work across the region,” said Whitney Kennedy, program co-lead. “As a pipeline program, it feeds into our strategy of building our workforce from within. It is an example of really investing in people.”
Amanda Fazakerly is an incoming fellow with a Master of Science degree in Biobehavioral Sciences-Speech Language Pathology from Columbia University. This month at Johns Hopkins University she graduates with a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in Healthcare Management.
“I was seeking a Northern California administrative fellowship with broad geographic and demographic reach, and a diverse alumni and mentor network,” she explained. “Kaiser Permanente rose to the top of my Google search!”
Fazakerly is looking forward to learning more about consulting roles, specifically those in strategic planning and capital budgeting.
Making a major impact
“The fellows take on multiple projects at a time, quickly getting up to speed and delivering results,” said Karen San, the program’s co-director from 2019 to April 2023. “Even one fellow makes a broad impact that has the potential to impact hundreds of thousands of patients.”
This summer’s eligible applicants for 2024-2025 must have a graduate degree in health care administration conferred between July 1, 2023, and June 30, 2024. (The program operates in Kaiser Permanente Southern California, too.) Fellows receive a competitive salary and benefits package.
Many fellows have gone on to spend their careers as leaders at Kaiser Permanente.
One is Melissa Johnson, medical group administrator in the North Valley service area and a former fellow, who said she built valuable relationships in the program that have sustained her career.
“When I joined Kaiser Permanente as an administrative fellow, I did not know what type of leader I would become, nor my career possibilities within KP,” she said. “Within the administrative fellowship, I was exposed to leaders, projects, and career paths that helped me craft who I am today as a leader and the journey I chose to take over the past 20 years.”
Reminder: Applications for the program open on July 10 and close at 5 p.m. Pacific on September 5. Decisions on participants will be made by late October. Learn more on the application page or by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.