Imagine bringing someone you love to an emergency room and being asked by staff why you care about someone that can’t speak, walk, or function in mainstream society. University of Northwestern – St. Paul alumna Hannah Nelson Ried ’20 was asked such a question when she brought a woman from the assisted living home she supervises to a hospital for critical care.
As a residential supervisor for ACR Homes, Ried and her husband, Sam ’20, live in a suburban home with four adult residents with high physical and behavioral needs. As supervisor of the home, Ried’s responsibilities include scheduling and attending resident healthcare appointments; administering medication; coordinating insurance; purchasing medical supplies, cleaning supplies, and groceries; as well as managing the staff that serve in the home.
“I’m on call 24/7,” says Ried. “Last night I had to [tend to the medical needs of] a resident at 11:30 p.m.”
It may seem unusual for a new graduate to carry such a high degree of responsibility, but according to Ried, the path she has walked and the education she received at Northwestern prepared her well for this role.
“ACR is a business my family started, so I’ve always been involved in assisted living—cleaning rooms and playing games with residents,” Ried explains. “But when I took my first job in an ACR home during my freshman year in college, it wasn’t what I was expecting. I did a lot of direct care in that role and had tough patients. It was hard; overwhelming. But I had a mentor that trained me, and my coworkers and supervisors were great.”
As for her current role, Ried credits Northwestern for providing the skills needed to lead well.
“Northwestern helped prepare me for this position,” Ried says. “Human resources management, employee management, operations management, and professionalism are things I learned in class.”
“Another thing I learned at Northwestern is that it’s important to take good care of your staff. At ACR we talk about putting the needs of the residents first, but also being careful not to overlook the staff. We provide extensive training to new staff and treat all of our staff well. ACR principles of management paired well with my learning from Northwestern.”
“Healthcare management gives you a unique opportunity to impact delivery care from an organizational standpoint.”
— Hannah Nelson Ried '20, Resident Supervisor, ACR Homes
While a position of leadership in an ACR home might seem a natural fit for someone who grew up in a family that started assisted living homes, Ried entered college not knowing what career she wanted to pursue. “I knew I wanted to work in healthcare. I loved giving care, but I didn’t love science. So, I began as a pre-Physician’s Assistant major.”
Quickly realizing she wanted to provide more direct and ongoing care than a PA role would allow, Ried changed her degree to nursing her sophomore year. “That was a big decision for me. I needed a lot of encouragement from friends, mentors, and my parents during that time. Being in Christian community and having people work with me and pray for me was so encouraging.”
Although the School of Nursing provided rich friendship, support, and clinical experience, Ried found herself questioning once again whether or not she was on the right path.
“When placed in a clinical for one of my classes, I found the hands-on care wasn’t what I was expecting; it wasn’t the right fit,” says Ried. “I realized that my gifts and goals were more aligned with healthcare management. Healthcare management gives you a unique opportunity to impact delivery care from an organizational standpoint.”
At the time, Northwestern didn’t offer a degree in healthcare management, so Ried worked with an advisor to create a unique blend of courses that would prepare her to step into a leadership role in the healthcare system. She graduated in December 2020 with an Interdisciplinary Studies degree composed of nursing, science, and business administration courses, in addition to her Bible major.
“It would’ve been so helpful if I didn’t have to figure out how all of the courses I took and principles I learned intersect,” says Ried. Ried feels the articulation of her degree path and the exploration of where it intersects with the marketplace set the stage for Northwestern’s new healthcare management program. “The new Healthcare Management program Northwestern is offering will be a great benefit for those that want to be in leadership in the field of healthcare.”
“Managing the regulatory aspect of a healthcare facility is intense. People’s lives are at stake.”
— Hannah Nelson Ried
Northwestern will launch a new Healthcare Management program this coming fall. Students will be able to pursue an undergraduate, adult undergraduate, or MBA concentration in Healthcare Management. A stand-alone graduate certificate in Healthcare Management will also be available.
The Healthcare Management courses, focused on the unique aspects of healthcare delivery in the United States, are designed to teach the precise skills needed to step into positions of leadership in organizations such as residential care facilities, clinical and hospital care organizations, medical device and equipment businesses, and insurance companies. Courses include Healthcare Financial Systems, Healthcare Policy and Management, Leadership in Healthcare, and Law and Ethics in Healthcare.
“Managing the regulatory aspect of a healthcare facility is intense,” says Ried. “People’s lives are at stake, and there are state and medical regulations and privacy rules that must be followed. To step into a role like mine with formal training in healthcare finance and policy would be so beneficial.”
Ried explains that having training in leadership is critical to becoming a better advocate for patients and the facilities in which they live. She also notes that communication is a large piece of her supervisory role: communicating with guardians, case managers, maintenance staff, nurses, colleagues, and other medical professionals.
“There are so many judgement calls in healthcare. You have to work in teams and with teams made up of people with different agendas."
Ried points to the values and excellence taught at Northwestern as instrumental not only to her own skills and success, but to the type of care desperately needed in the healthcare industry.
“Being a student at Northwestern places you at such an advantage. The university has an amazing business department, and the School of Business chair has extensive healthcare management experience,” says Ried. “And at Northwestern, you learn from the Christian viewpoint, which emphasizes that we’re called to serve and love. Jesus loves everyone and is the giver of life, so we’ll protect it at all costs.”
“At Northwestern, you learn from the Christian viewpoint. Jesus loves everyone and is the giver of life, so we’ll protect it at all costs.”
— Hannah Nelson Ried
Ried’s love for her patients and staff exemplifies the way she embodies leadership skills and love for those others may not even consider. “I have a resident with difficult behaviors. How beautiful that I can walk alongside younger staff as they learn to care for her and share moments of joy with her.”
Ried goes on to say that “there’s something so cool about stepping into someone’s life and getting to make a difference.”
“Many of the residents we serve are nonverbal and nonambulatory. Being able to advocate for someone that others wouldn’t advocate for is so rewarding.”
“I would encourage anyone thinking about the administrative or management side of healthcare to consider the Healthcare Management program at Northwestern. We need Christians with these skills in healthcare.”