He’s highly regarded and admired in every sector of the healthcare industry he’s dedicated a career to over the past few decades. His name is synonymous with so-called Nana Technology for older adults, and he’s credited with identifying the new senior living category of university-based retirement communities.

But what Andrew Carle seems to beam about most these days is his self-imposed mission to shape and steer tomorrow’s leaders in senior living as professor and executive-in-residence and founding director of the program in senior housing administration at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA.

Carle tells McKnight’s Senior Living that part of the exclusive program’s success stems from the fact that students earn degrees in health administration, with a concentration in senior housing administration.

“This is critical, because at the end of the day, assisted living and memory care in particular are not only healthcare facilities but will become increasingly significant players in the healthcare continuum,” he says. 

“By housing our program in health administration — versus hospitality management, gerontology or even business administration — our students complete additional coursework necessary to the skill set they will need for success in the field.”

Some courses have been created “from scratch. These are not nursing home administration courses that touch upon senior housing, nor gerontology courses covering the general domains of ‘aging,’” he adds. “They are senior housing-specific, going department-by-department, function-by-function, focused largely on assisted living and memory care on the health services side, but also hospitality services on the active adult, independent living and CCRC side, as well as assisted living and memory care.”

And because senior housing predominantly is a private-pay industry, Carle has helped design coursework to train students in senior housing sales and marketing. The program also puts students through rigorous real-world training and highly structured internships with leading senior communities. To gain “executive empathy,” students are exposed to fundamentals like setting department budgets, staffing and “operational priorities” as mundane as dish washing, laundry and “pushing wheelchairs,” he adds. 

For their efforts, Carle’s students proudly wear T-shirts proclaiming their membership in the “Toilet Hall of Fame” club.