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Health Care Leader Beth Villena Heads WakeMed Rehabilitation Hospital

Beth Villena stands in the middle of the frame and speaks to a family member of a patient. Play Video
WakeMed Rehabilitation Hospital Director Beth Villena (BSW '89), center, talks with patients.

What can you do with an NC State degree in social work? Ask Beth Villena (BSW ’89), director of the WakeMed Rehabilitation Hospital in Raleigh.

In her role, Villena oversees the day to day operations of the 103-bed inpatient facility. “We take care of patients who have had disabling conditions such as a stroke, brain injury, spinal cord injury and any other conditions that leave them needing physical rehabilitation.” 

Villena groups her primary job responsibilities into three main categories. “The first is really a focus on taking care of patients,” she says, adding that she works to ensure the hospital is providing value to patients. She also has a responsibility to her staff who serve the hospital’s patients. “I’m always trying to think of ways to remove barriers for our staff so that they can do the magic,” she says. 

Her third responsibility is to WakeMed, Villena says. “And so I’m always focused on financial stewardship, fiscal responsibility, making sure that we are serving patients the most efficient way.” 

Villena says she’s grateful for her time at NC State, a place where she developed a foundation of knowledge she still uses every day.

“It was where I learned about the discipline of social work and the incredible impact social workers have on people and on families and on communities,” she says. “I learned about human behavior and psychology, and that’s critical in an environment like this.”

Villena says she values not only her social work degree but her experience outside the classroom. NC State is where she met lifelong friends and found a faith community. 

“NC State is an amazing place to transition from a young adult to a mature adult ready to hit the world, and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences is so rich and so diverse,” she says. “There are so many things you can pursue there. Whether it’s political science or social work or psychology or international studies. The options truly are endless and there’s something for just about everybody.”