Rylie Tiffin first became interested in healthcare management during her junior year in high school, after a research project on employee engagement in hospitals led her to discover that burnout among healthcare workers resulted in lower quality patient care.
This insight stuck with her, inspiring Rylie – now a third-year Honors College student – to double-major in business management and public health, with options in international business and health management and policy.
“I believe that the people that we need to be most engaged are healthcare providers,” she says. “My ultimate career goal is to run a hospital and help reduce burnout among healthcare providers.”
It was this ambition that originally drew Rylie to Oregon State and to the Honors College. Oregon State had the programs to get her started on her goal, and the Honors College had the connections and opportunities to help carry her even further.
“The Honors College helped me have a smaller community within the large university so that I could always feel connected,” Rylie says. “[It also] allowed me to be more advanced if I wanted to be.”
Honors College thesis preparation classes introduced Rylie to her thesis mentor, Lawrence Houston III, who has guided her development of a thesis project on organizational behavior theory and how to implement a diversity climate in hospital settings. Dr. Houston is an assistant professor of management in the College of Business.
Rylie’s first experience with the Honors College was a memorable one: she participated in the HC’s unique study abroad opportunity in London, England during the summer before her freshman year. This experience left her with what she calls a “travel bug,” and she has since studied abroad a second time through a College of Business program in Bangkok, Thailand, from August, 2019 to January, 2020.
“I really found the rawest part of myself there,” Rylie says. “I hope the rest of my life can live up to those five months.”
These study abroad programs inspired her to take her goal of improving the way hospitals are managed to a much larger scale.
“I want to engage in the global health scene and learn as much about other cultures as I can by living and fully immersing myself within them,” Rylie says.
Back home at OSU, Rylie is already making an impact in the world of healthcare. She is the co-founder of two clubs on campus, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement Club and the Operation Smile Club, which fundraises for Operation Smile, a nonprofit organization that provides free surgeries to children with cleft lips and pallets in low-income communities.
What Rylie has done here at OSU and overseas is just the beginning of her journey. She plans to continue to travel internationally and work to improve the state of healthcare across the globe, whether through internships, Operation Smile missions or even something as big as the Peace Corps.
“It’s very easy to just go through the motions,” she says.
By taking advantage of every opportunity that has come her way, however, Rylie has developed a passion that will carry her far.
After the switch to remote learning in spring term 2020, we reached back out to Rylie to see how things are going. She is currently back home in Salem, Oregon.
“I definitely miss Corvallis and spending time with my friends, but I know that the more we wait out the quarantine, the shorter it will need to be for everyone’s safety.”
Taking nineteen credits this term, a unique challenge in an environment full of distractions, Rylie understands that both professors and students deserve a lot of grace.
“[Professors] had to make a lot of adjustments and are doing the best they can to make remote learning just as educational,” she says. “Everyone has had to adjust, but some had to adjust in much more profound ways than others.”
When the stay-at-home order was sent out, Rylie made herself a list of fun activities to do to give herself a break from her classes. That list, which she has been consulting regularly since she first made it, includes painting, reading, journaling, and spending time with the cows on her family farm.
“I think that we need to let ourselves feel the uniqueness of this situation and let ourselves do what we feel we need in order to stay sane,” Rylie says. “If we build in walks and time to read or decompress in the way that suits us (at home, of course), I think that we can avoid the potential takeover that coursework could become.”