Director of Veterans Association of Northern California, David Stockwell is no stranger to health care administration. He oversees a network of large hospitals, clinics, and over 3,000 employees; and he finds career satisfaction in “most importantly taking care of our nation’s heroes.”

(Photo Courtesy of David Stockwell)

(Photo Courtesy of David Stockwell)

The challenges of the working day are immense according to Stockwell. “I was inspired to join this field by the desire to help people and by the complexity of health care. No two days are the same.”

“Some of the most memorable moments I have had as a health systems director,” Stockwell reflected, “involve hearing the stories of veterans we have helped. I remember one 19 year-old Iraqi war veteran with burns on over 90 percent of his body. He was getting such good care, that after he healed, not only did he stop by and thank me, but he decided to volunteer at the hospital to help others ‘less fortunate.’

I also remember a WWII veteran who was present during the bombing of Pearl Harbor; he was almost 90 years old when he signed up for VA care because he was starting to get old, and needed his hearing checked. Our patients’ stories are what make health care worth doing.”

Stockwell counsels those who wish to enter into the field of health administration to volunteer or work at an entry-level position before starting school, to help understand the health care field. “Besides learning health care, education is about building a network of people who understand the field you are in and with whom you can continue communicating in the future. I wouldn’t be where I am today without school. Besides giving me the tools and understanding, it helps reinforce one’s natural skills.”

Stockwell possesses degrees from Portland State and from Baylor, but says that just as importantly, “To be successful you have to care for your employees and for your patients. Be a good listener and an innovative problem-solver. Be committed to long-range goals. Commit yourself to health care for the right reason. Remember you are there for the patient.”

Karen Hansen M.S. Earth Sciences, has been an educator and consultant who is currently an analyst regarding land and other public information records. She lives and works in Sacramento, CA. She has been writing about earth and the environmental sciences for Examiner.com since May of 2010. Find her work in several sections of the publication. You can find her work at SF Solar Energy Examiner, SF Environmental News Examiner and Environmental News Examiner 

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