Healthcare is an interesting industry, in that from a consumer standpoint, unless you’re an expecting mother, or have a ritual of grabbing lunch at your local hospital cafeteria, most consumers of healthcare would rather not be customers. Combine this element of an already resistant, disengaged consumer base, with the high-risk environment that comes with managing a hospital. Ask yourself what could go wrong, then ask yourself how prepared you have to be to manage and maintain the success of a major healthcare system. It’s momentous to say the least. This isn’t a job where you get to clock in and spend a few hours here and there on Facebook. No, instead you have to perform, and you have to do it well, in what are often chaotic environments. So what is it that drives a more than capable marketing and communications professional to embed herself in an industry surrounded by chaos?
Of the countless passionate and driven nurses, techs, and physicians I’ve met, they will all tell you the reason they go back to work everyday is for those moments, the ones where they know they made a difference in a patient’s life. Sure, some jobs in healthcare give you the opportunity to pull in a decent salary, but if you think it’s about the money, you have yet to realize the sacrifice required to work in this industry. There has to be something more that comes with the job that makes that sacrifice worth it. According to Melissa Sterling, a former Chief Marketing and Communications Officer for Hospital Sisters Health System (Southern Division), as well as a former Vice President of Marketing for The ROHO Group, there is without a doubt a reward that is truly invaluable.
Following your passion is great, but pursuing a career that merges your passion with the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of those around you is priceless. This contrast is what Melissa refers to as the difference between satisfying work and meaningful work. As a University of Missouri J-School graduate and well experienced marketing professional, having served in various senior-level marketing roles, the opportunities that allowed her to contribute to the well-being of patients lives were the most rewarding. From the impact she made while serving on behalf of St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, to introducing innovative communication strategies for The ROHO Group, the pride and joy that came with knowing she was helping organizations that help others is something she cherishes to this day. If given the opportunity to work on a Super Bowl campaign, which most in the marketing space would see as a dream opportunity, she would rather contribute her part by helping to develop communication strategies in the healthcare space. Her unending drive to invest day in and day out is fueled by the desire to earn that feeling of intense fulfillment, knowing she did something that truly helped the life of someone other than herself.
Some might find this to be crazy, or too good to be true, but I think it’s an innate truth very few are privileged enough to discover. Money is like oxygen; it’s necessary to live, but not the purpose of living. Whether your passion is marketing and communications, or building bridges and engineering for the future, find a way to make a contribution, to give back, and I promise you the sacrifice is more than worth the reward.