Long-Term Care Administrator Profile – Philip C. DuBois, CNHA, FACHCA
Master’s in health care administration from California College for Health Sciences, 2002
Two of Philip C. DuBois’ interests are in ministry and healthcare, and throughout his career, he’s been able to pursue both. After earning his master’s in health care administration, he worked as a nursing home administrator for seven years. Today, he teaches those students looking to follow in footsteps as a member of St. Joseph’s College of Maine’s online long-term care administration program. Alongside his healthcare career, he is the minister behind Second Best Ministries, which helps people through tragedy and advocates for orphaned, abused, and abandoned children.
Question: What drew you to the healthcare field? What do you enjoy about it?
DuBois: “I’ve always wanted to help people, and I’ve also always related well to the elderly. My father was a pastor, and we had many elderly folks in our churches. He often took me with him to visit in the hospital, nursing home, and homes, so that desire to help frail elders was reinforced from an early age.
“Like many in the field of long term care administration, I took a mid-career change. My undergraduate degrees are in theology and music ministries, but I had a desire to move into LTC administration. Those opportunities are rare. I worked on my master’s degree one course at a time over several years, preparing for a change into healthcare administration.”
Question: How has your continued education and certification benefited your professional career?
DuBois: “The field of LTC administration changes continually. Without continuing education to stay abreast of changes, I would quickly become a dinosaur. In fact, my state board requires 24 hours of CEU [Continuing Education Units] per year, but I always have far more than the minimum.”
Question: How did you become involved in education as faculty in an online long-term care administration program? What do you teach, and what do you enjoy about the opportunity to teach?
DuBois: “In 2009, I became a Certified Nursing Home Administrator (CNHA) through ACHCA [American College of Health Care Administrators]. That credential has given me added confidence in knowing that I’ve achieved a certain level of knowledge and experience to be among the best in my field. That confidence has propelled me to consider other professional opportunities as well, such as teaching courses and speaking at conferences.
“I became a professor when Saint Joseph’s College approached me. I hadn’t really thought about teaching. It was also a matter of timing, since I was at a crossroads in my career at the time I was approached. After several discussions, I decided to move forward. Initially, I was an adjunct faculty member, teaching only one class. I found that I really enjoyed it — the opportunity to interact with students from all over the country, to have an influence on tomorrow’s administrators, and to be sharpened myself by the questions and discussions we had. After a few months, I was asked to become a full-time faculty member, and by that point, I jumped at the opportunity.
“My first class, which I continue to teach, is Long Term Care Administration. This is one of the last courses a student will take, in preparation for the NAB federal board exam. When I become full-time, I added courses in Assisted Living Administration, Issues in Long Term Care, and supervision of internships for both undergraduate and graduate levels.”
Question: How does your experience in theology and ministry influence your work in healthcare?
DuBois: “I have long seen my work in long term care administration as a ministry. In fact, many administrators, regardless of their personal religious beliefs, feel that their work is a divine calling. If it’s not, then I believe that person may be in the wrong field. For an administrator to be successful, he/she must not only have the knowledge and skills, which are demanding in themselves, but also a passion and commitment. There are many times that it would be easy to give up, but that purpose and calling will drive the administrator to continue.
“It’s a huge responsibility to care for vulnerable people 24/7/365. A few years ago I had a resident who died after living in my facility for 33 years. As I thought about the level of responsibility we had, it was overwhelming — to meet his every need (medical, personal, emotional, spiritual, and otherwise) for 33 years, with a margin for error of zero. I also had to tell my staff that they had done so exceptionally well. Too often we focus on the few things that go wrong, without giving ourselves an occasional pat on the back for doing many things well. This man lived a good life, due to the dedication of so many staff who truly cared for him and cared about him.”
Question: What advice do you have for people just starting their education or their professional career?
DuBois: “For those who are starting the career, it can be hard to find opportunities. I know of many who are seeking an AIT position, or that first administrator’s position. I’m hoping to gain momentum and cooperation within the field to examine these barriers to practice and find some resolutions. Persevere!ÿI also recommend networking, especially within the American College of Health Care Administrators. Those relationships can pay off in many ways. Make friends with the staff at your state’s licensing board; they can often provide valuable advice. If you can’t find that first position, volunteer in a local nursing home with your eyes wide open to observe and learn. Become a volunteer LTC Ombudsman, which can give you an even wider experience. Perhaps your first job will be in a nursing home’s business office or as a department manager; take advantage of that opportunity to learn all that you can. Taking a CNA class can give you valuable insight, skills, and the ability to relate well to your staff later on. Finally, a willingness to relocate can be key to finding that position.”