Building the Healthcare Administration Program: Interview with Dr. Krause

Apr 26, 2018

by Alexandra Faust '21

When it comes to teaching at Florida Southern, it's important to make sure the students can apply their knowledge to real-world situations. Dr. Elizabeth Krause brings many years of her healthcare industry experience into the Healthcare Administration program she established.

Your biography says that you’ve done research on issues of accessibility of healthcare; what inspired you to do research on these topics?

I was working in industry at the time and working with patients who had difficulty affording hearing aids. I was working in a ENT (ears, nose, and throat) practice. Hearing aids can be quite expensive, so we worked really hard to find different ways in which those patients could access those technologies so they could hear better. That’s where my original passion developed in terms of looking at how people who don’t necessarily have insurance or are underprivileged have the ability to access services.

You created the Healthcare Administration program here at Florida Southern. In what ways is this program different from other colleges?

Coming out of industry, I think, gave me some insight into the different types of skills that students need. I was hiring students right out of college, so it was evident to me that we had some deficiencies in their knowledge. I was learning where I felt their deficiencies were, and then built that into the curriculum. I feel that we are setting ourselves apart in terms of giving students the skills that they need to be successful, in a different way. They are actually studying problems we experienced in terms of running practices in healthcare.

Healthcare is a booming field. What would you say to students who are considering this major? Would you say there will be a number of job options upon graduation?

I always ask my students to raise their hand if they’ve ever gotten sick, and inevitably every hand goes up. It’s one of the fields that is touching everybody, at some point in our life we all need healthcare. So, from that standpoint I think it’s a wonderful field to go into. There are a wide range of job opportunities that will just flat out not go away.

“I feel that we are setting ourselves apart in terms of giving students the skills that they need to be successful, in a different way.”
Dr. Elizabeth Krause

Tell us about the internship opportunities in these programs?

We have lots of different internship opportunities. Right now, we have students who are working at Lakeland Regional in an administrative capacity. One of our students is working on a process reengineering team. They look at, let’s say, reducing infection, so they actually have students working on the team to look at the compliance rate for nurses in washing their hands to try and eliminate infections. That’s just one example but they’re looking at all the different types of processes in their organization to try and make them more efficient. I have another student who’s working in administration in Lakeland Regional, but it’s out in their medical practice so she’s learning what all goes in to managing a medical practice. We have students who are interning at Lake Gibson Village, so those individuals have an interest in long term care services and they’re learning what it takes to run an assisted living facility and nursing home. I have another student who’s interning in human resources in a nursing facility. Then we have a number of students who are interning with a healthcare IT company. They’re learning how to trouble shoot help desk services for electronic health record implementations. So again, just a wide range of internships.

What year do students generally internship in this program?

Generally, later, in their junior or senior year. It’s like we’re speaking a different language in healthcare so I really want them to have a number of courses under their belt that give them an understanding of the industry before they go out and actually do their internship. But, I’ve also had students who are starting earlier.

Have you worked on any research projects with students?

I was working with one student on looking at influenza vaccination rates. I haven’t done any research as of late with students, though that is something I’m anticipating doing in the near future hopefully.

Are there any specific research projects that you have planned?

We don’t have a good understand of the implementation of EHRS across the industry in terms of nursing homes, so I’m very interested in looking at that. We have a lot of metrics that show implementation inside hospitals and physician practices, but not so much in nursing homes, so that’s one area that I’m looking at pursuing over the summer. That should be interesting. For me it sounds interesting. It’s possible that I could be working with some students on it, it just has to evolve.

What do you love about teaching here at Florida Southern? From your experience, what has been the most rewarding part of teaching?

I love the students, they love learning about this industry. Their engagement with all of the different activities and all of the different courses that I teach. Without question, without them and their enthusiasm I wouldn’t be a teacher, I’d still be back in the industry. I had my first graduating class, they went off in this past May. It’s been so fun seeing what they’ve decided to do. Some have gone off to graduate school, some have gone into the industry and I’m just really proud of them. So, for me it’s this pride in seeing them from where they start at the beginning to where they finish, and then being able to go into the industry and be successful. I’m really excited for them and that’s what brings me a lot of pleasure in doing this job.

Who’s been your biggest influence in terms of teaching?

Probably my husband. My husband has been a professor for almost 30 years. I’ve learned a lot from him, in terms of taking these complicated concepts and making them easier for students to understand. So, if I think back about his influence in how he does what he does so successfully, that’s been my guiding light, trying to be as successful as he is.

You’ve taught a wide range of classes from healthcare finance to healthcare quality improvement. What would you say the favorite class to teach has been?

“Teamwork is so important in healthcare if you think about how we deliver services, no one in health care does it in isolation.”
Dr. Elizabeth Krause

I love healthcare quality. In healthcare quality we learn about all the ways in which we’re failing, if you will, in delivering healthcare services and injuring patients. We have a real problem in our healthcare industry in that we make a lot of mistakes. So, in the healthcare quality class we learn about how to implement different interventions into the system. We learn about stories where we’ve injured people and have students work on investigating ways that they could change that story and make it a good outcome for the patient. I’d say that one is one of my favorite classes. Also, the capstone course, the senior seminar, is one of my favorite too, because it goes back to that whole philosophy on teaching. I get to see them when they enter and don’t know anything about the industry. Then, working in that senior level course, which is the last class that they work with their peers and partner together to come up with solutions. It’s really fun for me to see and to teach that class.

Do you feel like the program helps students gain better communication skills and team management skills?

Absolutely, and total communication skills because I’ve made sure that there are writing components throughout all of the classes. Teamwork is so important in healthcare if you think about how we deliver services, no one in health care does it in isolation. We always talk about how important teamwork is in general, but it’s really important in health care industry. If you think about it, in a care system you’ve got a doctor, a nurse, and administrative people. You can’t deliver high quality services without everyone working together. They definitely develop teamwork skills.

How do you feel that your personal real-world experience in this industry has helped you teach your students?

Without it I wouldn’t be here. It’s super important in healthcare to be able to take these concepts and relate them to experiences I’ve had in the industry. First of all, I think that brings in this interest. If I’m able to say look I know we’re talking about this concept but I’ve actually lived that, experienced that, and I can tell them the story about that particular experience it brings it full circle for them. They can see “Oh, this stuff that we’re learning actually happens in the real world”. So, if they weren’t able to relate it back to my experience I think they’d be missing out on the concepts. For any concept that I’m teaching I can tell a story in practice. It definitely keeps them much more engaged.

What advice would you give to students who are pursuing a career in health care management?

Be passionate about your interest in healthcare. We have students that really love healthcare, and want to take care of people, but don’t really want to be clinical. There’s still a place for us that really have an interest in healthcare, that want to help people be healthy, take care of themselves, and have good health outcomes. From that standpoint just be committed to learning about the industry and to finding opportunities where we can be successful in taking care of people.

What are your future plans here at Florida Southern?

To continue to keep building the program. We have about 40 students in the major and our goal is to continue to grow the program. Also, to get others in different areas of the school more engaged in the minor. We have a lot of students that go through our premed programs and other pre-professions in healthcare and are nursing students and helping them understand that there’s a whole business side to the industry. Giving them some insight into what that looks like can help make them much more well-rounded individuals when they go out. If they get a medical degree or go into nursing they can understand why they’re doing what they’re being asked to do from the business standpoint. So, I think it’s really important to get the word out as well.

Where have you traveled? Have you gone on any junior journeys?

I have, we went to Genova, Switzerland last year. We looked at international healthcare organizations. So, we had personalized visits at the World Health Administration, at International Red Cross, Doctors without Borders, and the Global fund. The students that went with us on that trip really enjoyed the experience, so we’re going to be offering that trip again in October.

“The reason I’m here is that I love interacting with students.”
Dr. Elizabeth Krause

What was your favorite part of that trip?

The World Health Organization. Just being able to actually sit in this operation center where they’re making these decisions on epidemics. To me it was just absolutely riveting to be right in the middle of where all of that happens.

Are there any other Junior Journeys you’d like to form?

We’re going back to Switzerland, but we’re adding Rome and Florence, Italy, so hopefully that will be of interest to students. I’ve actually thought about maybe doing one to Dubai, Abu Dhabi, where Johns Hopkins and Cleveland Clinic have facilities. So, looking at how these large well rounded and regarded organizations here in the United States are building these massive amazing facilities over there.

Do you have a favorite place that you’ve traveled?

I love anywhere in Europe. It’s absolutely riveting and fascinating for me. Paris is one of my favorite places. I thought Rome would be, but Paris is pretty amazing. I love England too. Just the beauty of walking around, thinking about the history and the amazing architecture. I walked around just thinking “Wow, there’s so much history here.” It’s so much older. I know that sounds cliché, but it’s so much older than where we’re from. Just the ease of getting around, seeing everything, and their transportation system is so radically different than what we’re used to.

Outside of healthcare management, what are your interests or hobbies?

I’m an avid golfer, I love golfing. I’m originally from Minnesota, and so I love fishing. I’m sure there’s a lot of people that would look at me and say “You like to fish?”. I’ve done lake fishing and go out into the Gulf, but it’s all capture and release. I’m not into killing anything. I like the fight, I like to bring the fish in, but then I like to let it go.

Is there anything else you would like people to know about you?

The reason I’m here is that I love interacting with students. Building long term relationships is really important to me. I’m here to be a mentor to them long term in their lives and to help them be successful.