Bree Tonte, alumna of the MPH/MHA dual degree program at the IU Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health, has long wanted a career in health. While today she is the network operations fellow at Community Health Network, she started with a position delivering trays to patients at Riley Children’s Hospital. Bree saw this role in the kitchen as an opportunity to break into the health field.
“I started as a nutrition services representative, delivering the trays to the patients,” she said. “I knew I was interested in healthcare and I loved pediatrics, so I looked for an entry level position at Riley Children’s Hospital just to get my foot in the door.”
Bree had decided to take one year off in between undergraduate and graduate school to make sure she was choosing a career path she could see herself in long-term. During her break, she struggled to find a position that would allow her to put her undergraduate degree in exercise science to use.
“Most positions I found interesting during my year off, required five or more years of experience,” Bree said. “With that in mind, I decided to take an alternate route!”
In her position as nutrition services representative, Bree became a team lead early on and started to get a feel for management. As opportunities for process improvements arose, she took the initiative to make changes. Likewise, when she was offered the opportunity to attend meetings with her manager, she accepted.
“I was fortunate to have a boss that allowed me to grow and attend a lot of his meetings,” Bree said. “That allowed me to see how all of the varying roles in a hospital come together to serve the patients.”
She started to realize how much she appreciated attending those meetings, managing the staff, and making process improvements in the department, and her career interests shifted.
“I loved making a positive impact in my department while also improving the quality of care for the patients. That is when I started to do some research and found the MHA program at IUPUI. I have always been drawn to healthcare and management, but I knew I would need more to fill my cup.”
Bree dived right in, enrolling in the MPH/MHA dual degree program at the Fairbanks School of Public Health. While enrolled, she worked as a market analyst at IU Health, a position that started as an internship. In this role, Bree provided data on market share and population demographics to their business development, strategy, and marketing teams.
Additionally, Bree was accepted into the Eskenazi Health Scholar Program which offers dual degree MHA/MPH students a generous scholarship and the unique opportunity for hands-on training in the health system.
As an Eskenazi Health Scholar, she was exposed to the Primary Care Quality Department, Service Excellence, and the Healthy Families program at Eskenazi. She also had the opportunity to work as the project manager for their hypertension grant.
Bree’s drive is energized by the constant reminder that she is helping others, coupled with her desire to make her parents and fiancé proud. “Their endless belief in me has pushed me to continue to give my best effort and make them proud of everything I do,” she said.
As the Community Health Network Fellow, Bree’s main goal is to learn as much as she can. She recently finished her first rotation with senior leadership at Community Hospital South and is now working with the SVP of Ambulatory Services. Bree knows she is drawn to a patient- or community-focused position, but plans to keep her options open.
“This year I am focusing on trying to not focus on one specific career or role,” Bree said. “To make sure I get the most out of this fellowship, I am trying to see every aspect of the network and how it all works together. There is no better way to learn and grow than to be in this type of setting and I can see it playing a large role in wherever I end up in the future!”