Rachael Stodtko, Chief Operating Officer and Accounts Receivable and Payment Compliance at Parallon Business Solutions, graduated from the Health Services Administration undergraduate program in 2007. She has eleven years of experience in the healthcare field.  Rachel loves what she does and still considers herself at the very beginning of her career.

We talked with Rachel about her educational experience at UCF as well as her career.

What influenced your decision to select a healthcare major?

At the beginning of my educational career, I had not yet really decided what I wanted to do. It was a trip with my parents the summer of my freshman year that gave me a new perspective. We were driving down a busy road and noticed a car swerving — a father had a heart attack while driving and his 10-year-old son quickly pulled over the car. My mom has been a registered nurse since her early twenties and performed CPR on the side of the road. Unfortunately, the driver didn't make it but it made quite the impression on me. That's what healthcare is all about — showing up.

What was your experience like in school (undergraduate program)?

The toughest part about obtaining my degree was juggling a full course load of five classes and a full-time job during my junior and senior year. My last year of school was completed online to accommodate my work schedule, but it worked out because I was able to obtain the work experience necessary to prep for my first role in healthcare after graduation as a manager trainee at a revenue cycle business.  One of the areas that prepared me most was the real-life scenarios provided in my managerial finance courses.

What is most challenging about being an administrator in the healthcare field?

Balancing financial initiatives with patient care is always challenging. I've been fortunate to work for a company who is "patient first" minded and shares my core beliefs so I've never had to make that choice, but it is an ever-present balancing act.

What is the best part of your field?

Doing your best for patients when they need you the most is the best part of my field. Almost everyone is touched by healthcare — most of us are born in hospitals and often breathe our last breaths in them, too. I can't think of any other field that has such an expansive impact on human life.

What was one of your most memorable experiences in healthcare?

One of my most memorable experiences was during the preparation for Hurricane Harvey that hit Houston, Texas in 2017. As a new executive, it was eye-opening to see all of the "behind the scenes" decision-making that occurred to keep patients and team members out of harm's way. You truly see the heart of a company in action during an emergency and I am so grateful that HCA kept the patients and employees as top priorities. They pulled out all the stops to ensure everyone's safety. It truly felt like a family taking care of the family. It was a powerful act to witness.

What advice do you have for future health service administration graduates?

Everyday in the job that you have is your interview for your next position because the world of healthcare is a small one and your reputation is important. For all of the women moving into healthcare administration — wear a blazer. Know your worth. Always sit at the table because the people at that table get to talk and your input is invaluable.