A double-gator, FRE undergraduate alumni Savannah Patterson discovered a passion for healthcare as a senior in the program and was able to translate her analytical skills honed through Food and Resource Economics into a successful career in healthcare administration.
“I originally pursued the FRE program chasing a passion for economics. As soon as I began networking with the faculty and advising staff with the FRE program, I knew I had also found something even more special: a supportive, uplifting program that made me feel welcomed.”
While an undergraduate student, Savannah participated in various experiences including study abroad, horticultural research with UF/IFAS, and the Career Pathways Program through the Produce Marketing Association. As a part of the Career Pathways Program, she attended the 2017 Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association Conference.
“That was incredible. Not only was it an honor to represent my institution, but I was able to observe the endless possibilities of agribusiness. I was immersed in real discussions about current events, innovations, and hot topics. At the same time, I began to seriously consider my next steps. Where did I fit in? Am I ready to take on these challenges?”
While considering these life-changing questions, Savannah would see her path shift away from agribusiness into a new field: healthcare.
“Immediately after the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Associate Conference, my family found themselves regulars of UF Health Shands Hospital. I spent a lot of time in waiting rooms, still thinking over my postgraduate plan. I remember my father commenting that hospitals were run by people who had studied finance, management, marketing, economics, etc. – just like me. It was the first time I realized my FRE degree could take me beyond agribusiness.”
From there, Savannah became a student volunteer at UF Health Shands hospital and went on to join the UF Master of Health Administration program. She said she discovered she loved the challenges of healthcare management, which felt familiar but also exciting.
“The way my UF journey unfolded echoes my family legacy, something I am deeply proud of. My father, Kenneth Patterson, is a graduate of the UF CALS microbiology program and also entered the world of business. My late grandfather, Charles T. Ozaki, MD, PhD, studied agriculture at Ohio State University and went on to become one of the UF College of Medicine’s first graduates! My great-grandmother, Lassie Goodbread-Black, also earned a degree from the UF College of Agriculture. I am a fourth-generation gator! I have two sisters who are also UF graduates, one in her third year of medical school and another who intends to study public health.”
Now, Savannah works for the UF Department of Surgery as a health care administration manager. In this position, she directly supports the daily operations of clinical, research, and educational missions for all divisions of the Department of Surgery. This includes supervising a graduate internship program, student assistant employees, and a team of clinical scribes, as well as assisting in the oversight of the department’s outpatient clinics, both in Gainesville and for UF Health regional locations across the state.
Savannah’s projects and analytical reports monitor clinical operations and prospectively inform decision makers, helping the department take on challenges such as staff shortages, supply-chain breakdowns, and ensure all clinics and administrative offices are empowered to run as efficiently as possible.
This semester, Savannah returned to speak to students in about her experience, and the versatility of skill her FRE degree provided leaving her well-equipped to succeed.
“I remember Dr. Misti Sharp being so enthusiastic and supportive of my new interest in healthcare. I am forever grateful to her,” said Patterson. “To now support her and share my journey with the current FRE students is an honor. I hope current and future FRE students realize this degree empowers them to be leaders anywhere their passions lead them.”