With a Masters in Health Care Management, Cagla Oruc was equipped to apply emergency management, crisis leadership skills to the current health care crisis.
When Cagla Oruc , a Masters in Health Care Management (HCM) ’17 graduate, was tasked with establishing a COVID-19 command center overnight earlier this year, she did not expect the experiences she would end up having along the course of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. As an industrial engineering by training, she doesn’t describe her altered career path as taking a new road – it’s more like a detour along the way, and one that she’s glad she made.
Oruc, who recently started a new position as manager of Emergency Management at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C., comes from a family of physicians, so health care was something she “had in mind” as her education progressed. “It (her Johns Hopkins Carey Business School degree) provided a curriculum that spoke to me,” she said.
“As an engineer, I felt that the program fit,” added Oruc. The manufacturing, supply chain, and research components she was familiar with complement and align with hospital work focused on meeting logistical and safety challenges and promoting process improvement. Prior to the program, she hoped to find a health care field that provided a medium where she could both use her skills in engineering and have a direct relationship with individuals who benefit from her work, the patients.
Oruc had researched other health care management programs prior to applying to Carey, but found them to be lacking in one area or another, as far as her objectives were concerned. Also, Johns Hopkins’ world-renowned name and reputation, particularly in medicine, was a big factor in her choice of Carey.
Prior to her new position at Sibley, Oruc had worked for three years for the Johns Hopkins Health System, first as an intern at Johns Hopkins Hospital, and eventually as a full-time employee in the area of emergency planning for the Johns Hopkins Medicine Office of Emergency Management. While at JHM, Oruc responded to more than 20 serious emergencies, including medical and operational incidents such as a measles outbreak, exposure investigations, utility failures, and supply chain disruptions affecting the continuity of operations. Part of her responsibilities was setting up command centers and an incident command system, to coordinate the most effective and efficient responses. “I learned on the job and had great mentors,” she said.
"I met amazing physicians, was able to get involved with challenges such as the opioid crisis, and gained insight and understanding working with the Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine"
Cagla Oruc, MS HCM 2017
When the COVID-19 pandemic first struck earlier this year, Oruc and her team established the JHM Unified command center to coordinate response across all six JHM hospitals and hundreds of ambulatory sites. At the peak of the surge, she traveled to Sibley (a Johns Hopkins Health System hospital) to support its response to the virus, including working on hospital strategies on testing, personal protective equipment, and patient placement decisions. After being stationed there for two months, she was offered the role of leading emergency management responsibilities for the entire hospital.
Oruc outlined the core activities of her multi-faceted job, which she described as “organizing the chaos. “First, there’s risk assessment, examining processes and policies in place, then devising and executing exercises and drills testing disaster scenarios, and then the post-mortem, when we examine what went well during the response and what needs improving. We integrate into place what we learned. It’s continual process improvement,” she explained. “You strive to end redundancies, while promoting resiliencies, in the pursuit of continuing the hospital’s mission of patient care, research, and education.”
Of her time at Carey, Oruc cited great instructors and several courses, notably “High Reliability Health Care Organizations” taught by faculty member Chris Myers, for portraying a hospital setting as an exciting and transformative workplace. She also remembers the “Health Systems Improvement” course that allowed her to obtain real-life experience in working at a hospital. “The course stood out for me. I met amazing physicians, was able to get involved with challenges such as the opioid crisis, and gained insight and understanding working with the Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine,” she recalled. She is particularly thankful for the HCM leadership who provided support at the beginning of her career and the alumni who were extremely helpful in introductions and opening doors to bolster her growth over the past years.
On her new role, Oruc said, “Johns Hopkins teaching, its values, and supportive alumni gave me several opportunities. I’m grateful to able to return the favor in one of the most challenging times in Hopkins history – or world history, even!”