Using a Brand to Combat a National Crisis and Care Deficit

Illustration of people helping one another

By Linda Mignone, Chief Marketing Officer, Ultimate Medical Academy

How does a little known brand navigating one of the greatest crises in American history emerge as a key player?   It takes care.

As a society, we are suffering from a “care deficit” and an explosion in selfishness.  There is a sense that we are all behaving more in our own interests and less in the interests of others than ever before, but we don’t really want to live that way.  Most of us want to live in a world where people care about and take care of each other.

A caring, qualified, engaged and diverse workforce is at the heart of America’s healthcare system.  However, hospitals, individual practices and health systems now face mounting staffing shortages of up to 3.2 million health care workers by 2026 that could jeopardize access to care in the communities they serve.  Add to that, the healthcare industry is expected to grow 16% between 2020 and 2030 due to an aging population with increasing chronic conditions, creating a need for 16.97 million open positions in that timeframe, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

There is no easy solution to this problem.  Healthcare workers need extensive training and specific qualifications, so providers cannot simply hire new workers off the street.  As a trusted brand in the allied health education sector, the urgency of the healthcare talent shortage created an imperative for us at Ultimate Medical Academy (UMA) to step out of the shadows.  Since 1994, our employer partners have depended on us to meet their talent needs because we are founded on a single premise:  to effectively train the next generation of healthcare workers.

The UMA brand combats a care deficit

Society is paying close attention to elevating historically underrepresented populations, and UMA’s student body is primarily composed of non-traditional learners who are typically older, lack college degrees, and are entrusted with caregiving responsibilities for parents or children. Non-traditional learners also are contending with financial restraints and the need to balance work and school. These learners are as distinct as they are driven and highly supported through UMA’s comprehensive Student Support model.

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Education is changing rapidly. New schools and methods are emerging to meet different needs and different students, while the education sector and society are looking for a greater meaning to the work we’re all doing and how we engage each other. UMA distinguishes itself by committing to “the whole student,” which is transformative.

The five dimensions of care that we believe have the most effect on student outcomes are: academic, financial, psychological, practical and vocational.  These are equally as important as the wide range of programs we offer to develop multi-skilled allied healthcare professionals.

That level of care required to help learners has never been spoken about at the brand level.  We rolled out the phrase “The Other Half of Education” to describe our approach. Care requires taking a holistic view of the student, including their total life circumstances, and providing the support needed to focus on their education and meet their career goals. This holistic view includes a student’s finances, working patterns, family demands, medical and other personal challenges. Care is what makes UMA’s education whole.

Refreshing the brand to meet the crisis

Our most recent brand-building journey started in 2020 when UMA developed our Vision 2025, including reimagining what the brand stood for.  We are committed to expanding access to education, offering the appropriate credentials, degrees and skills.  Our objective is to help provide opportunities for satisfying, rewarding career pathways.

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We thought about our core values, including championing student outcomes and committing to team member success, which remain at the forefront as they always have been. We also challenged our role in the future of healthcare education overall and what it means in these times. What does UMA do well on its best day, and how do we combine that with helping solve a societal issue?  We weren’t after a refreshed image sporting a catchy tagline.  Instead, we knew our brand was authentic and distinct and at the core of who we are. The UMA brand and its community is about one thing, first and foremost: care.

It’s that message of care that invites people to participate with the brand, and participation is what brings our brand to life. This is what makes UMA different, engaging and transformative. Care is at the heart of our commitment to team members, learners, employers, the industry and the community, and that care leaves its mark as a force of good.  It is not a value-add — for UMA, care is in our DNA.

The UMA brand and the Ripple Effect of Care

For UMA, care permeates into the culture – it’s what we call, the Ripple Effect of Care. The “Ripple Effect” can be thought of as concentric circles radiating from the brand. UMA cares for its team members, team members care for students and employer partners, and students care for their employers, customers or the patients they serve. Together, this effect multiplies over time. This means that the UMA brand not only impacts those it directly touches, but society at large.

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Care pays back in higher education and propels educational and professional success. The beauty of a brand reflecting an organization’s purpose is that there isn’t much convincing that needs to be done to rally stakeholders.

Once UMA established this mindset as the root of its communications philosophy, promoting “care” evolved from a marketing initiative to an organizational imperative.  When our students succeed by accomplishing their dreams, they are also lifting their families and communities. Our employer partners find the talent they are looking for and our healthcare institutions become stronger as a result. That’s why we are proud to introduce you to the UMA Care brand: “The Other Half of Education.” Care is the essence of the UMA brand; it is how UMA is building the backbone of the healthcare workforce, and there is no other brand story worth telling.