Health care leaders share knowledge, experiences with students

November 07, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Paul Kempinski, president of the Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Delaware, said he understands the importance of cultivating and mentoring the next generation of leaders.

That’s why Kempinski, a 1982 Penn State alumnus and enterprise vice president for Nemours Children’s Health System, participates in the Department of Health Policy and Administration’s annual Professionals in the Classroom event. Twenty-five professionals participated in the October event, including many Penn State alumni.

“My experience at Penn State was so important to my personal and professional development. I can’t think of a better way to give back to the University than to support an event that will help to enrich the academic experience of these highly engaged students,” Kempinski said.

For students, Kempinski said an opportunity to directly engage with leaders in the field is invaluable.

“The students are in the midst of a discernment process that will help determine the first steps of their careers,” he said.

For example, he said, some may be pursuing an internship, while others may be comparing and contrasting the many segments of the industry that interest them. For some, they may be simply trying to gain some practical understanding of what we do every day as health care leaders.

“No matter what the goal, the networking and relationship building can be truly instrumental in the student’s early career success,” he said.

Kempinski earned his bachelor of science degree in health planning and administration at Penn State, and he serves on the advisory board of the Penn State undergraduate program in health policy and administration.

With more than 30 years of health care experience, Kempinski is responsible for the strategic and operational leadership of Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, a 200-bed referral hospital, which is recognized as one of the top children’s hospital in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Kempinski was promoted to president in 2015 after serving as chief operating officer since joining Nemours in 2003. 

Kevin Lynch, a fellow participant in the Professionals in the Classroom event who earned a master of health administration from Penn State, described for students how he utilized his degree to start The Quell Foundation, which works to eliminate the social stigma of mental illness.

“Each one of my classes at Penn State had a direct influence in identifying, shaping and establishing my organizations mission and strategic objectives,” Lynch said.

Lynch’s drive to create a paradigm shift in the care and treatment of people who have a mental illness stems from the knowledge he gained and relationships he built while researching his graduate thesis.

His research suggests that the rates of suicide, opioid addiction, overdose and incarceration are directly correlated to the shortage and lack of access to mental health professionals.

“Conservatively, 90 percent of the students I had the pleasure of speaking with acknowledged knowing someone with a mental health illness,” said Lynch, who publicly acknowledged his own struggles with depression during a panel discussion on mental health at the White House. “I wanted to provide an opportunity for this next generation of health care professionals to look around the room at all the hands in the air and realize, ‘To be impactful wherever I may be, I must be prepared to stand beside those with an invisible illness so that they may be better seen.’”

Will Manbeck, a health policy and administration major, said Lynch’s presentation made a lasting impact.

“As he began to tell his story and describe his work, I realized that he was pursuing a cause he truly believed needed changing,” Manbeck said. “His life experiences gave him true ethos to discuss an issue, which affects nearly all of us directly or indirectly: mental illness in America.”

Manbeck particularly appreciated that Lynch’s remarks deviated from what he expected to hear at such an event.

“I didn’t gain any insight on developing an outstanding curriculum vitae or resume, nor did I glean information on workplace expectations. While that knowledge certainly has its place, I would make the argument that I experienced something far more important,” Manbeck said. “Kevin’s speech was truly sincere, and I got a glimpse for the first time at what it must feel like to work on something that you know you will fix, if only through the determination to help those you love and to prevent similar harms from befalling to others.”

Marianne Hillemeier, professor and head of the Department of Health Policy and Administration, appreciates alumni, including Kempinski and Lynch, who give back to their alma mater by supporting students.

“This event provides a unique opportunity for alumni and students to learn from each other while establishing and nourishing social networks that can persist after graduation and throughout students' careers,” she said. “It fits solidly with a theme of our strategic plan of enabling lifelong learning through innovative academic and outreach programs that transform students into leaders in their respective undertakings."  

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated November 07, 2016