With one of the youngest, fastest-growing and most diverse populations anywhere in the world, Houston has seen a surge in relocating young professionals over the last decade, particularly those looking for opportunities in the region’s health care industry.
Home to more than 1,760 life sciences companies, cutting-edge health care facilities and research institutions, the region has long been known as a major hub for the health care sector. This industry makes a big impact on the local economy, employing over 366,000 Houstonians.
To learn more about what it is like to be a young professional in health care and what opportunities are available to those moving to the region, we chatted with Stacey Smith, an assistant administrator at HCA Houston Southeast and a recent Houston newcomer who came looking for opportunities in this booming industry. She tells us what it is like working in a health care industry trying to overcome the pandemic and what she loves about living in the Bayou City.
What excited you most about moving to Houston?
The food! I moved from Charleston, S.C. which is a foodie town and I was excited to move to a city that was equally foodie with even more multi-cultural options. I was also thrilled to live in a city with so many professional and college sports! Before COVID, I was able to attend an Astros and Texans game and look forward to going to more games as fans are allowed back into stadiums.
How has moving to the Bayou City helped you in your career path?
HCA Houston Healthcare is one of Houston's largest family of hospitals providing exceptional care through our network of people, facilities and services across the greater Houston area. We have 13 hospitals across Houston, we treat more than one million patients a year, and we deliver more babies than any other Houston healthcare system! As a part of HCA Healthcare, one of the nation’s leading healthcare providers, we are connected to a collaborative healthcare network with endless resources for a myriad of career paths. HCA Houston Healthcare is dedicated to building the next generation of leaders by supporting us in the work we do every day. My hospital CEO at HCA Houston Southeast, Jeanna Bamburg, is a terrific role model and mentor. I couldn’t have chosen a better place to help build my career!
What do you think makes Houston a great city for health care workers?
Houston has one of the most developed health care markets I’ve ever seen. This type of competition elevates the level of care provided to the community and the level of its leaders and front-line staff. During COVID, it was moving to see all hospitals and health care systems pull together for one common goal. The Texas Medical Center held regular meetings to discuss support and standardization as we all collaborated to keep the city of Houston safe and prepared.
Do you think the health care industry will look different in a post-COVID world? If so, how?
I think health care and everyday life will look different post-COVID, at least for a time. COVID shook the entire world and still continues to have a major impact across many spectrums, with health care at the forefront of that. I’m expecting growth in health care accessibility and outreach to provide layers of health care to more rural areas.
As the chair of the HCA Gulf Coast Division Young Professionals Colleague Network, you play an integral role on HCA’s Diversity, Inclusion, & Equity Council. Addressing DEI has become a major priority for many organizations in Houston and around the nation, how are you seeing this being addressed within HCA and the health care sector as a whole?
HCA has taken a huge step in addressing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion over the past few years and even more so within the last 18 months. Just within our division, we have eight different Colleague Networks, with 3 more being added shortly. They range from Veterans to Young Professionals to LGBTQ+ to Mind Matters (a colleague wellness network) and so many more. Each brings a variety of different resources, connections, and philanthropy. HCA Houston Healthcare has recently been named a 2021 Houston Business Journal Outstanding Diverse Organization and our DEI executive Chair, Shannon Evan was named Outstanding Diversity Champion for the strides made for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
Any advice for someone who just graduated and is looking to find a job in the health care industry? Do you see Houston as a good place to get started?
Houston is a great place to get started in health care with its continuously developing market and its health care innovation. The possibilities of jobs in health care are endless and Houston’s health care is thriving. Depending on the starting point in your job search, I recommend finding job fairs or recruitment events in your area. They help navigate through the specific health care jobs and what best suits your personal goals. Most of these have safely started back in person, with universal masking still required. I also would recommend searching online and applying for jobs that fit your qualifications, you can search for jobs within HCA Houston Healthcare.
What advice can you give to another young professional who is about to make the move to Houston?
Don’t be afraid to try new things or talk to people. COVID has made it even harder to socialize in public, but find what you love and you’ll find people who love that same thing. The opportunities for career goals, networking, and adventure are everywhere in Houston, you just have to try and put yourself out there.
Top 3 things you love about H-Town:
I covered two in my first answer, food and sports but the 3rd would have to be the people. Everyone is extremely friendly and willing to help and you don’t find that everywhere.
Learn more about Houston's health care and life sciences industry here.
Learn more about living in Houston here.