Whitman students lend a helping hand to VA Medical Center
Whitman students lend a helping hand to VA Medical CenterMay 15, 2007Amy Schmitzaemehrin@syr.edu
It’s a common experience in many medical centers — numerous patients waiting, with limited rooms in which for them to wait. Recently, the Veterans Administration (VA) Medical Center in Syracuse decided to see if it could improve this model.
The VA medical director, James Cody, and the chief of staff, Richard Marx, contacted the Whitman Consulting Club, a student-run organization in the Whitman School of Management, and asked the club members to examine and make recommendations on the efficiency and utilization of the specialty clinics, and particularly the corresponding waiting rooms, within the VA Medical Center.
“The VA staff and administrators found they had some waiting rooms full of people and other waiting rooms with few people,” says Jessica Cemate ’08 M.B.A. “In a sense, this was a staffing problem, and they wanted our advice on how to better use their resources.”
The Whitman Consulting Club students examined the numbers of patients who visited doctors in various specialty areas. They also looked at rooms and the time allotted to each doctor in a given room. The students then built a computer model to assess utilization rates.
“We found that demand was not spread evenly throughout,” says Cemate. “Some specialty clinics have too many rooms, others too few. The configuration we recommended will lead to more time and space for physicians.”
The findings were presented to the VA staff and administrators, who were pleased to have recommendations they can use. The VA Medical Center plans to implement the recommendations this summer and is considering keeping Cemate on as an intern to participate in the ongoing project. For Cemate, this is a wonderful opportunity.
“I am very interested in health care administration and learning how to solve problems in health care management,” she says. “Exposure to these real-world problems in the VA Medical Center will undoubtedly help me in my future career.”