What follows are remarks I wrote to mark the retirement for Michael D. Rosko, PhD, a professor of Healthcare Management at Widener University. I had the honor of being one of Mike’s students. I share these comments not only to honor Mike, but to honor all those teachers in CAHME-accredited programs who fulfill so honorably their awesome responsibility of shaping the future leaders of healthcare.
Talking about an icon like Mike Rosko could easily include the number of students he taught, the number of papers he published, or the honors attained. Mike is an economist, so numbers are important. As a teacher, however, Mike is far more than numbers.
To me, a teacher is someone who pulls out something inside of you that you didn’t even know existed. Someone who alters your perspective to see things that you didn’t know were there. Someone who makes you not a replica of themselves, but into a better a better version of yourself.
I remember being at Widener sometime in my 20s and thinking about who I considered my favorite teachers. There was my fourth-grade teacher, Miss Valenti, who made learning fun. There was Father Rodia in high school, teaching a course on Christian morality that helped me understand that actions had consequences not just to others, but to myself. As a college undergrad, Ray Birdwhistle opened my mind to how communication serves not just to convey ideas but also as a form of social interaction.
And then there was Mike Rosko.
Mike’s lessons in economics revealed the true nature of healthcare. Healthcare is not just supply and demand, elasticity of demand, logarithmic curves, and scenario
analysis. Mike made healthcare real and enabled his students to understand the humanity behind the numbers.
Let me give you one example. Back in the 1980s, Widener’s healthcare management program brought in a computer simulation exercise that allowed us students to made decisions as if we were hospital administrators. We had to market, attract key populations, set our charges, adjust our costs, and manage our resources as a hospital administrator. Well, being a pretty “smart” guy, I figured out how my hospital could make a lot of money. I raised charges, stopped taking Medicaid, decreased staffing costs, and dropped costly service lines. At the end of the exercise, my hospital made the most money.
Mike gave me an F. What? I made the most money in the class! I won, right?
Mike looked at me with gentle disdain. This is healthcare. It’s not just about making money. It’s about caring for people. Being a just person, Mike allowed me to re-work my project, and I brought my F up to a C+. More important that the grade, I learned the lesson.
The world needs more teachers like Mike Rosko, someone who reminds future (and current) leaders that healthcare is not all about making money. It is about our humanity. It is about morality. It is about making a difference.
Anthony Stanowski, DHA, FACHE
President & CEO