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Despite a national trend, the number of Wharton MBA graduates entering the health care industry has remained relatively constant over the years.

With healthcare reform front and center in political discussions, an escalating number of business students across the country are looking to work in the field of health care.

According to a survey conducted by the Masters of Business Administration Career Services Council, 28 percent of business schools saw increased recruitment in the healthcare industry over the past year.

Despite the national trend, the number of Wharton School MBA graduates entering the industry has remained relatively constant over the years, largely due to its long-standing program in Health Care Management, director of MBA Admissions and Financial Aid J.J. Cutler said.

“We have such a strong history and such a strong reputation in this industry that we already are at a relatively high level,” Cutler wrote in an e-mail. “The national numbers are probably starting from a lower base making it easier to show an increase.”

The statistics Wharton releases each year, furthermore, likely understate the number going into the industry, as they do not include students who pursue healthcare banking, consulting or private equity, Cutler said.

According to Cutler, it is a good time to go into health care. “Innovation, healthcare reform and interesting regulatory issues” make health care a “great industry right now,” he said.

Cutler likewise attributes interest in this field to an increased desire to work in “more of a mission-based industry.”

“This generation has a higher level of integrating social consciousness with business and professional objectives,” Cutler said. “Health care is seen as a good area to marry those interests.”

Though the numbers of graduates entering the healthcare industry are lower at the undergraduate level — 1.1 percent of Wharton’s graduating class last year versus 7 percent among MBAs — there is still consistent interest in health care, according to senior associate director of Career Services Barbara Hewitt.

“A lot of students wind up doing healthcare consulting,” Hewitt said. “Some go to work for insurance companies or healthcare banking.”

The undergraduate concentration in Health Care Management and Policy is a steady source of students looking toward health care, Hewitt said.

Wharton senior Adam Brown decided to add the concentration after interning last summer with a small healthcare firm in San Francisco.

“In terms of exercising a Wharton education, it’s a great business to go into,” Brown said. “Health care is 16 percent of our economy. It’s one of the biggest businesses out there.”

After graduation, Brown will return to work full time for the firm he interned with, which focuses on diabetes and obesity.

While Cutler said leading healthcare companies come to campus each year to recruit MBAs, Brown found that health care does not have a large presence on campus at the undergraduate level.

Though a number of healthcare companies participated in both the fall and spring career fairs, Hewitt said participation in On-Campus Recruiting is limited by organizations’ hiring time lines.

While banks know in advance how many graduates they will be looking to hire, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies tend to hire as needed, Hewitt said.

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