By: Eric Ruble
Landing an Administrative Fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic is quite a feat. In fact, out of the nearly 300 people who apply in a typical cycle, only six or seven are accepted. This year, USC Price alumnus Kyle Underwood is one of them.
Underwood graduated from Price with his master’s in health administration (MHA) in May, but his journey to Ohio began in the fall of 2020 with what he described as an “extensive recruitment process.” While speaking with people at the clinic, Underwood learned more about its patient-centric focus and emphasis on employees as individuals.
“They really cared about who I was as a person and how I could contribute to the organization as well as how they can help me grow as a professional in the field,” he said. “I wanted to be somewhere that could really challenge me and also propel me to the next level.”
The Cleveland Clinic is regularly ranked among the top health care institutions in the country. In its most recent list, U.S. News and World Report named the clinic the No. 2 hospital in the U.S. and the top hospital for heart care. Its mission resonated with Underwood’s personal experience.
“When I was younger, I was in and out of the hospital and was able to see what it’s like to be a patient,” he said. “I’m hopeful I can take that patient perspective and experience that I’ve had and really make a difference and an impact at the leadership level.”
Underwood said Price helped him present himself as a competitive applicant by weaving his personal story into the experience he gained at USC. “I have to lend a lot of it to the way the program is structured within Price,” he said.
Specifically, Underwood said Price held workshops and hosted health care professionals as guest speakers to help students better understand the kind of people hospital systems want to hire.
Underwood also pointed to the 1,000-hour Residency Program, which is required for all Price MHA students. He completed his at Providence Health.
“You get hands-on experience in the field and using that, you can hone in on certain skills and be able to speak the language of the health care system,” he said.
Underwood said his work as an administrative fellow will be a “crash course” on how the clinic functions. He’ll learn everything from finance to operations, and will work on both local and international projects. The most exciting parts of the fellowship, he feels, is the chance to learn more about himself as a future leader.
“The really nice thing about this fellowship is that it’s an opportunity not only to learn and grow, but also it’s an opportunity to fail and learn from that failure.”
Underwood said he could see himself one day leading a hospital system. He believes building his career at the Cleveland Clinic will provide the necessary knowledge for a long-term career in health care.
“It’s going to allow me to have a little bit more credibility as well as have a rich foundation that I can build off of and lead me where I want to go,” he said.
Underwood’s struggles within the health care system imbued him with the passion to improve it. Now, his work at institutions like Price and the Cleveland Clinic will provide the skills he needs to ensure more people like him receive the best treatment possible.