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Alumni Spotlight


Joel Karman, 1996 M.S.W.

Joel Karman

Joel Karman graduated from the University of Kansas with a bachelor’s of arts in psychology in 1992 and a master’s of social work in 1996. In high school, Karman wanted to go into journalism and chose KU for it journalism program. However, prior to stepping foot on the KU campus, Karman’s mother was in a terrible car accident, which landed her in a coma for two years. This life-changing event placed Karman on a path he never imagined. However, the people he interacted with at the hospital along with a professor at KU influenced and encouraged him to change his career path. After graduating with his BA, Karman took a year off of school to grow as a person and then decided to come back to KU to obtain his M.S.W.

After graduating with his M.S.W., Karman started working as a transplant social worker in a hospital in Chicago, Illinois. This position was just his entry into the health system. After five years of working as a transplant social worker, Karman decided he wanted to have a more global impact and decided to move into hospital administration. By moving up the ladder and also obtaining a master’s in public health policy administration, Karman has held multiple director level positions within the hospital system. Currently, Karman is the associate hospital director at the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System where he manages 35 departments and roughly 400 employees. Karman continues to use his social work license by working at NorthShore University HealthSystem on the weekends. Even though Karman wanted to have more of a global impact, he still didn’t want to give up the one-on-one contact with patients. By working on the weekends as a social worker, he is allowed the best of both worlds. He spends his weekdays in hospital administration and his weekends on-call for the department of psychiatry for those in crisis in the emergency department.

Karman thinks a social work degree is a great base for multiple career paths. He believes his social work degree has helped him communicate better with a variety of different people and personalities, which is a crucial aspect of almost any job, but especially crucial in his hospital administration positions where he has worked with and managed multiple departments and staff.


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