Lisa M. Sullivan
Senior Budget Analyst
Department of the Navy
Bureau of Medicine and Surgery
I can see my first grade mathematics teacher as clear as day â€“ flash cards and all. It was then that I fell in love with mathematics. Math was fun! I always thought of it as a game, and even more so when I studied algebra. Throughout my educational career, I enjoyed mathematics and was very fortunate to have excellent teachers who helped me build a solid mathematical foundation. With a very strong high school background in mathematics, I enrolled at Bowdoin College, not sure of what I wanted to study. It was within my first college semester of calculus that I decided to study mathematics. I pursued the algebra and number theory track as a mathematics major and also a major in Spanish. I received a well-rounded liberal arts education and also spent a semester abroad in Madrid, Spain.
Upon receiving my Bachelor's of Arts degree in May 1992, I began my career with the Department of the Navy in the Centralized Financial Management Trainee Program. This program is an intense two year internship run by the Navy Comptroller (NAVCOMPT). As a budget analyst trainee, I was assigned to a "homeport" which was the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, MD. During my internship, I did a rotational assignment at the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Budgets and Programs. During this assignment, I worked on the initial mathematical model for the Capitation Budgeting Methodology for Military Treatment Facilities. This model included extensive algebraic formulas used to determine the cost of health care on a per capita basis for each military hospital. After successful completion of the trainee program, I worked at the National Naval Medical Center as a budget analyst for Ancillary Services and Managed Care in the Resource Management/Comptroller Directorate. Each day mathematics assisted me in performing my duties as a budget analyst, as I worked primarily with spreadsheets in the software package called Lotus. Even though computers can do most of the calculations needed, the creation of formulas is still the programmer's responsibility.
Currently, l am a senior budget analyst in the Resource Management/Comptroller Division at the Department of the Navy, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery. The Bureau of Medicine and Surgery is corporate headquarters for Navy Medicine, and oversees 4.5 billion dollars in total resources. I analyze the Medical Budget Programs for Navy Medical Treatment Facilities all over the world. I am involved with many unique and mathematically interesting analyses. For instance, I have worked on various cost models for the Program Objective Memorandum 1998, which basically outlines the financial future of Navy Medicine. Trend analysis and forecasting are also a major part of my job as there are various performance indicators in place (e.g., ratios such as Patient Care Costs per Medical Work Unit) used to compare like hospitals (e.g. standard deviation from mean of peers). In the Comptroller world, we are called "Bean Counters," however, it is far more complex than that simple analogy. In my job I use algebra, statistics, and also mathematical modeling as in operations research. Moreover, working for the military offers unique mathematical problems which are not present in private industry, such as determining the optimal number- of Navy surgeons needed in wartime.
Throughout my educational career I have always been challenged by mathematics, and now I am equally challenged in my career with the Department of the Navy. Mathematics is critical to my job as a budget analyst in that I would not be able to perform the necessary analyses needed to answer such questions as mentioned above without it. Because my job involves mathematical modeling, I plan to pursue a Masters Degree in Operations Research in order to be able to solve even more complex problems. Finally, mathematics today plays an important role in career paths, as John McLeish wrote: "The history of numbers shows that most advances were made by mathematicians working in the mainstream, relating their work to actual needs (for example, finding ways to predict the flooding of the Nile, to make correct tax assessments or to translate enemy codes in wartime)." For me, Math is still fun!