Executive Profile: Q&A with HCP President and CEO Henry N. Tuttle
Inspiring the next generation workforce in health care
Henry Tuttle, President and CEO of Health Center Partners of Southern California (HCP), sheds light on what inspired him to join the health care industry and offers advice for next-generation health care workers.
Q: What inspired you to join the health care industry?
A: My parents made education a top priority. They emphasized learning, reading, thinking, and being a good person. My siblings and I were encouraged to study and explore, to work very hard, and to choose professions that would help make the world a better place.
In college, I supplemented my studies with internships in health care. One of my first experiences was a job at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a Harvard Medical School Teaching Hospital, where I could observe all aspects of health care at work. It was fascinating! I took an early interest in the challenges that face health care and underserved populations, specifically, how to improve access to quality care.
Driven by my passion to help others, and my love of working with people, I naturally fell into a career built on networking, communication, and administration all related to health care. My career wasn’t always linear, which is good. The twists and turns along the way gave me new insights and broadened my knowledge and experience in and about the health care industry.
Q: What advice do you have for youth today about a career in health care?
A: Health care is one of the most diverse professions out there and it’s becoming even more integrated as specialties work closer together, taking a holistic approach that treats the patient as a whole. If you love learning and want to make a positive impact on people’s lives, health care offers a world of opportunities.
I recommend starting early. Reach out to your local community health center to have a conversation with providers, counselors, or administrators. Begin familiarizing yourself with health care from a career perspective. Take internships whenever possible and learn all that you can from the people you meet along the way.
Take time to listen. Listen carefully to providers – hear what they say about the challenges they face, the obstacles they overcome, and the rewards of working in health care. Listen also to patients if given the chance. Learn what’s working well and what isn’t.
And lastly, don’t turn anything down. It may not be the internship or job you want at first, but it’s an opportunity to learn, to engage with people in the industry or in a related field. Use this time to explore, and to build your experience and connections.
Q: What do you recommend for students who can’t afford the cost of a medical degree?
A: Fortunately, our world is beginning to address steep tuition costs as a barrier to a degree in health care. We now have programs that help forgive student loans and these programs have been expanded to include all socio-economic groups. More needs to be done but this is a significant step forward to make health care careers more accessible.
Q: What do you need to succeed in health care and related fields these days?
A: Passion. You need to find and nurture your passion. Ask anyone in health care and you’ll likely hear them talk about the passion they have for helping people, how rewarding it is to know you’ve made a positive impact in someone’s life. Whether it’s a job in research, patient relations, or on the primary care frontline, it all intersects with the patient and making life better for them and their community.
Q: Looking back at your life, what would you tell your 18-year-old self?
A: Take a moment to stop and enjoy and reflect on where you’ve been and where you’re going. Don’t feel that you must know or plan everything in advance. Delight in the unexpected, see where the path leads you. And be confident knowing you’ve chosen a meaningful life with purpose.