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Health care is for everyone

For public health alumna, change begins with her

Liberty Pertiwi, ’12, MHA, says her health management and policy studies were inspired by national conversations on the future of health care.

“The 2008 presidential elections focused heavily on how health care would be financed and how to ensure every single person had access to care. It was an exciting time to be in health care, and I wanted to be a part of that change.”

Liberty, clinic manager for Specialty Clinics with Samaritan Medical Group, shares how her public health education prepared her for the complex world of health care.

What did you most enjoy about majoring in public health – health management and policy?

“Looking back at my time, I really enjoyed the conversations surrounding health care with professors and my fellow classmates. There was a lot of critical thinking in our courses, which has been super helpful in my professional life.

“We had instructors who were also working professionals teaching us about reimbursements, and it was fascinating to hear how the things we were learning were being applied in real time. I remembered when the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010 and how much that changed the way we talked about health care. It was also eye opening to be learning the impact not just on a federal level but on a state level. Oregon has always been known to be progressive in health care, so it was neat to see how the state would implement the ACA.

Do you think the program has prepared you or made you stronger professionally? Did it prepare you for your graduate degree?

“The program has made me stronger professionally. It prepared me for the complex concept of running a health care system in our country and what happens if it is not done successfully.

“It gave me the foundation I needed to pursue my graduate degree and enter the professional world. I ended up earning my master’s degree in health care administration from George Washington University, where one of my OSU professors wrote a letter of recommendation for me.”

Did you complete an internship during your program?

“I completed two internships. I spent one term with the OHSU Infection Prevention Control department, and I spent another term interning for Congressman Kurt Schrader in Washington, D.C., learning about policy.”

What does your current job entail?

“I oversee Samaritan Endocrinology, Samaritan Kidney Specialty, Samaritan Rheumatology, and the Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center Diabetes Management team. This includes 30 people and a combination of clinicians, CMAs, RNs and support staff. I oversee the day-to-day operations of these departments, which can include staffing, recruiting, budgeting and just about a little bit of everything in between. I see my role as supporting those who are taking care of our patients. There is a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes into health care operations.”

Who should consider a public health degree?

“If you are a person who is passionate about taking care of others and believe that everyone deserves health care, then public health is the right field for you.

“Most people who think of health care may think of going into medicine, nursing or other allied health route, which are much needed professions. But there are also other ways to make a difference in the health care world outside of those options.”

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