“Public health is different in that you are giving a service that people actually need, and it can improve their livelihood,” said USF College of Public Health alumnus Jan Rodriguez. “I’ve always loved helping people and making them feel good. For me, it is all about the relationships with the patient.”
Rodriguez received his bachelor’s degree in hospitality administration from Florida State University, and it wasn’t until after he earned his undergraduate degree that he first got introduced to public health. Due to the state of the economy, after graduation Rodriguez found himself doing work as a facilities and maintenance person at a community center in Dover, Florida.
“It wasn’t the type of job I imagined having after four years of college, but I needed something while I figured out what my next move was,” he said.
His next move, as it turns out, would be a master’s degree in health administration from the College of Public Health, which he earned in May 2013.
Rodriguez said that he chose USF for his public health degree because after researching the program, he found that it was reputable and would be a great fit. The location was good, too.
“Tampa presents many opportunities for the healthcare profession, and the MHA program at USF fit the direction that I wanted to go with my education and professional career,” he said.
During his time at the college, Rodriguez said one of his most rewarding and challenging experiences was the work he did on his special project. He was able to work on and be a part of an integration of two separate electronic health record software programs, as well as help create the training manual for the staff.
“The special project was a lot of work,” he said. “But it made me feel like I was able to make a real contribution to the organization.”
Rodriguez said he was most inspired by his classmate Richard Sherry, a husband and father of two kids who worked nights as radiologist tech at the hospital and still went to school full-time while also helping his wife care for his kids. Sherry and Rodriguez shared many classes and studied together.
“I knew if he had the determination to make it then I could, too,” he said. “It was a very quick two years, and a great learning experience.”
Before long, this North Carolina native joined his two siblings in the healthcare industry.
Some of his favorite memories during his time at USF include visiting USF’s Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation in downtown Tampa and getting to know his advisors, professors and classmates.
His time at USF prepared him for the opening of the Palm River Community Health Center in 2014, after a long summer of planning and construction, which he says is one of his proudest career achievements. He said that it was very satisfying to see where his hard work went when they finally started seeing patients.
Currently, Rodriguez is working in Tampa as a clinic administrator for Suncoast Community Health Center, where he oversees daily operations. He’s responsible for managing the administrative staff, overseeing the creation of claims, ensuring the building is under proper maintenance, and working closely with the associate medical director and nursing supervisor to ensure proper patient flow.
Rodriguez’s soft-spot for non-profit entities is one of the main attractions to this position, along with the mission of the company and putting the patient first.
“I love being able to make a positive difference in people’s lives, whether it is directly or indirectly, and I believe I am able to accomplish that in my current position,” he said.
His degree from USF not only prepared him for the field, but it has also helped him in ways he didn’t even realize.
“There are certain things that will stick with you after you leave the COPH, and you won’t realize it until you use it,” he said. “When I first started my position, I was new to the healthcare industry, but a lot of things seemed so familiar because of what I learned in the COPH. The industry is vast and there are many different capacities to work in. My advice is to trust what you’ve learned, but also be able to adapt to your surroundings.”
COPH Alumni Fast Five:
What did you dream of becoming when you were young?
Where would we find you on the weekend?
At the independent, the beach, or on the soccer field
What was the last book you read?
“Kafka on the Shore,” by Haruki Murakami. Currently reading “Synchronicity,” by Carl Jung.
What superpower would you like to have?
What’s your all-time favorite movie?
Story by AnnaMarie Koehler-Shepley, USF College of Public Health