In part two of this podcast Q&A, we will continue discussing students' transition from graduate school to practice. Ryan Hollister, associate director of Bennett Career Services Center, talks to us about the resources he provides to Salus students to help them find a career in their field and make it as smooth a transition as possible.

Ryan Hollister - Bennett CareerRyan Hollister:
That whole process, this theme, I guess, that I concentrate on is what I refer to as transition to practice. And that transition is not just commencement day. That transition takes time and takes preparation, and it is learned throughout their entire time in their program at the University. But I think graduation or commencement is that big pivotal moment for students, and I talk about this with all of them that, I even mentioned this at orientation, not to intimidate anyone, but all of these people, all of your professors and faculty that you're going to be working with as students, work with over two years or four years, it's not long before they are colleagues. As soon as you go from a student to a doctor or to a therapist, licensed therapist, all of these professors and doctors that you were working with, you are now colleagues. And thinking about that mindset and helping them to prepare to make that transition is really important.

And again, it's a theme that I focus on and I work with throughout their time at the University. And then of course we do have an event that we call the Transition to Practice Day, and we hold that in the spring and the fall, both prior to the spring and fall commencements, to be that sort of culminating event to provide students with the tools and the skills and all the essentials that they need to successfully make that transition from being a full-time student to being a healthcare provider or a therapist when they leave the University.


Q: I could definitely see how that could intimidate or maybe even motivate students to think that their professors could be their colleagues in just a short couple of years.

A: Absolutely. I hope it's more of a motivation than intimidation.

Q: Definitely. I guess it depends on how confident you walk into grad school. You kind of mentioned this, but from students coming to you for different help, different advice, what have you gathered might be the most difficult part of this process for them?

A: Yeah, that's a great question. You know, it really depends on each student. Each of our students, they come in with different backgrounds and different skills, and so what they need assistance with and help with can really vary. But I think some of the, I guess, larger things that I've noticed from working with students over the last couple of years, I think just those initial questions. When do I need to start looking? When does this process start? That's a question I hear a lot. I think it's important to understand that, as I think I mentioned, that this transition to practice, it's not a one-time event. It's something that is worked on and developed and kind of mastered over the time in the program.

Students don't need to feel that pressure from orientation when they walk through the doors. We're there to guide them and help them with setting those goals and those timeframes to get them where they need to be upon completing their program. Starting that job search, how do I just kind of go about things and navigate this process? Again, the Bennett Center is there to help.

I think another area that can be intimidating for a lot of students is many of them have never had to apply for or interview or prepare to negotiate a job or a career at this level upon finishing their degree. Many of our students have worked very hard, very diligently throughout their time in undergrad to support themselves. And they've held part-time jobs, multiple jobs.

Some of our students are a little bit non-traditional and they're transferring from other careers. But we're talking about students that a majority of them, they're borrowing or paying, spending $60,000 a year as a student, and then they're going to graduate and start making that equivalent or more on an annual basis. And we're talking about salaries that are 80, 90, even six figure salaries upon graduation. It can be a little bit intimidating. How do you negotiate those salaries? How do you go into an interview or a discussion with a doctor, whether you're looking to apply for a job, or some of them, some of our students are really ambitious and aspire to be practice owners themselves. So, we are there for those students, we're there for all of them to help you navigate all those different waters and be successful with that transition, negotiating, interview skills, and just knowing, being prepared to achieve whatever professional and personal goals you have for yourself upon completing your program.

Q: I'm sure it's a lot to go through after just interviewing to be in grad school in general, let alone then going into a full career for the rest of your life.

A: It can be. And that's another transition that students need to understand and make, and we help them, that applying to and interviewing for grad school is very different from applying for and interviewing for your first job. So, understanding the differences in the nuances, again, we're there to help them make it over that hurdle without too much fear. Hopefully they should all feel very confident that they were accepted into a very prestigious and rigorous program. They have what it takes. We have faith in them that they're going to be successful, so they should go into their job search with that same level of confidence.

transition to practiceQ: Is there any advice you would like to give students or is there anything else you would like to add about this process?

A: I may have just answered that question a little bit, but I want them to all understand that they should go into the process with confidence, present themselves very competently and professionally and confidently, because, again, we know as their teachers and their advisors that they have what it takes to be successful. So, be confident. We know that you're going to need help. We know you're going to have questions. That's what we're here for. And we have all the resources and tools that you will need to make it through that transition process as smoothly as possible.

I would say for prospective students who may be listening, again, I'd encourage you to do as much research about the profession, about the field, as you can. In today's COVID restrictions world, shadowing might be difficult, but there are other alternatives. You can conduct informational interviews with doctors, optometrists, audiologists, physician assistants who you may know. Even if you can't be with them and shadow them for the day, ask questions and try to gather as much information as you can.

And for students that are listening and thinking about that transition, what's life going to be like after you graduate? Again, we have the resources that you need. It's a process, and we're there to help you navigate that process all the way along. The Transition to a Practice event, the Transition of Practice Day prior to graduation is that last stop to get all the information you need.

And it's more than just the job search and interviewing. We have a network of industry experts there to talk to you about financial planning, just getting your financial life in order after graduation. Strategies and options for paying back those student loans, how do you go about that and do that the right way for you? All these things are specific to each individual student, so there's no kind of cookie cutter answer, but these different strategies are all there. And we have the experts, the industry experts, to help you navigate that process. If you're interested in practice management or ownership, again, we've got the resources, we've got the advisors and the consultants that you'll need and want to work with to be successful with that transition.