Making a Difference

Debbie Garcia, Cert ’18, can recall when, being with her peers in class, she realized that she could make a difference in the medical industry: “I’m going to be able to do this. I’m going to be able to transition into healthcare and provide some value to the industry and society”.

Shortly after her mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, Debbie felt the desire to support her from afar and started by volunteering with the Relay for Life program to raise funds on behalf of the American Cancer Society. When she was laid off for the second time after a 20+ year career in the semi-conductor manufacturing industry, 15 of those being in supervisory roles, she felt she needed a career change that better aligned with her values.  

Debbie only had one question on her mind: “What do I need to do to transition my career so I can go from where I’m at with no experience in healthcare but bring those transferable skills” to her new career path. With this goal in mind, her search led her to the Graduate Certificate in Healthcare Management. What made the graduate certificate appealing was how it rounded out both her degrees and her work experience. The coursework allowed her to utilize her current skill set and gain the lens of the healthcare field. Debbie says, “The classes picked for the Certificate were perfectly aligned with me moving into healthcare without any industry experience. Learning the concepts in these courses was foundational for me.”  

While most of her classmates were well established in the healthcare industry, Debbie brought her extensive managerial perspective to the classroom. She added important perspectives of fresh eyes and other industries to classroom discussions. She also took every opportunity to use her assignments to move toward her goal. In a course where the assigned project was to create a strategic plan, she made the plan personal.  “This is what I’m going to do, this is who I’m going to contact, these are the steps I’m going to take. Like any other strategic plan, I laid it out to be my plan to strategically move into healthcare.”  

Debbie collaborated with her colleagues to gain healthcare experience. She networked, shadowed, and sought opportunities to engage in projects within healthcare. Connecting with Division alumni led her to her first Project Coordinator role at OHSU. From there, her career has continued to grow. She accepted a role as a Project Coordinator at Provider Solutions & Development (Providence), was promoted to the first Project Manager for the organization 18 months later, and was recently promoted to Operations Supervisor. Remembering the peers who encouraged her initial transition, upon her promotion, she immediately shared the role she was leaving with students and alumni, encouraging them to apply.  “To me, the work is a challenge; it benefits the community directly. I’m doing what I want to do. It’s not work, not a lot of people can say that.”
Debbie is currently an Operations Supervisor for Provider Solutions & Development at Providence.