Alumni Spotlight: Matthew Abbene ’07 ’15 and Christina Abbene ’06 ’15

 In Alumni, Health Management and Informatics

Matt and Christina Abbene

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Before they ever met, Matt and Christina Abbene’s families moved from New York to Spring Hill, a city north of Tampa and home of the Weeki Wachee mermaids.

Matt and Christina went to the same middle school, but it wasn’t until high school that they first started paying attention to each other. You could say they got along “swimmingly.”

After graduation, Matt knew he would be going to UCF – the school was just far enough away from home, he said with a laugh. And as the son of a nurse, he knew he would also be studying something in the medical field. Christina, who had been accepted at UCF and another university, ultimately made the decision to attend UCF. “I made the right choice,” Christina said, smiling at Matt.

Initially, Matt wanted to pursue the clinical side of health care, so declared radiological sciences as his major. He said Physics 3 was the course that made him pivot to the nonclinical side of health care, and discovered the Department of Health Management and Informatics.

Christina zeroed in on organizational communications as her major, and although Matt and Christina both had fulfilling careers in 2012,  it became apparent that advanced degrees in health care would be smart career moves.

So Matt and Christina applied to the Master of Science in Health Sciences, Track in Health Services Administration (now the Master of Health Administration). Ultimately, they found their niches in health care: Matt is the performance improvement project manager at Winter Park Memorial Hospital, and Christina is the lung transplant intake coordinator for Florida Hospital Transplant Institute.

Christina serves as a liaison between the clinical team and the patient, coordinating the myriad tests and procedures needed for the complicated surgery. Her work is especially meaningful to her because she has a family member in Delaware who recently underwent transplant surgery.

Matt tracks clinical and department “scorecards” that show critical data such as infection rates, slips and falls, and average length of stays. He works with the clinical team to facilitate and manage projects that will ultimately improve these outcomes.

Matt and Christina credit UCF with giving them their path to success. While at UCF, Matt was the president of Upsilon Phi Delta (UPD) for two years, and also served on the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) student advisory board. Christina was also involved with UPD, as well as many volunteer opportunities outside of UCF. One of Christina’s most memorable experiences was when she cuddled premature babies in Florida Hospital’s neonatal unit.

“Matt and Christina are shining examples of our MHA Knight alumni,” said Kourtney Nieves, lecturer and program director for the Department of Health Management and Informatics.  “Both are still very engaged with the program and are always willing to give back in any way they can. Matt is currently serving as an adjunct for the undergrad HSA program, an associate mentor for the MHA program mentor pods, and has assisted with our UAB case team prep. Both Matt and Christina are employed by Florida Hospital and continue to be ambassadors for our program. They both embody what success after graduation should be and the program could not be more proud to call them alums!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

All About Matt

What do you do?
Performance Improvement Project Manager @ Winter Park Memorial Hospital & Adjunct Instructor @ UCF’s College of Health and Public Affairs.

Why do you do what you do?
 I enjoy working in performance improvement because it gives me the opportunity to make a positive impact on the patients, staff, and providers while increasing efficiency, eliminating waste, and lowering costs.  I became an Instructor at UCF to give back to the program that I graduated from.  I try my best to share my professional experiences and setbacks hoping to help students that might encounter the same roadblocks that I did.

What do you like most about your job?
Helping others solve problems and improving patient safety & quality outcomes.

What is your most memorable experience on the job?
Helping develop a culture of process improvement in a new free standing Emergency Room by working closely with and educating the staff and leaders to ensure process improvement was a focus of every shift, every day.

What is the happiest and/or proudest moment of your life?
Happiest was marrying Christina. Proudest was graduating with my Masters from UCF.

What is your favorite quote?
 “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it” – Lou Holtz.

Why did you choose to attend UCF?
I wanted to stay in state and attend a prestigious school in a big city.

How has your UCF degree helped in your career?
Both degrees have opened many doors for me professionally and also helped me narrow my focus and identify performance improvement as my initial career goal.

What extracurricular activities were you involved in at UCF?
Upsilon Phi Delta President. Two time national case competition UCF group member (one time team captain). ACHE of Central Florida student associate. Graduate Health Network member. Community volunteer with various organizations.

What is your favorite UCF memory?
One full circle memory: Arriving as a nervous and wide eyed student attending a college class for the first time, graduating with Masters with Christina and being honored with Outstanding Student of the Semester Award, and teaching my first lecture to a group of nervous and wide eyed students (while being nervous myself).

What’s the most important piece of advice you would give to your fellow Knights?
Get out there and network. While graduating is a huge accomplishment, you’re going to need to connect with professionals in your industry and build a relationship with them. A strong professional network will help you tremendously in your career.

 

 

 

 

 

 

All About Christina

What do you do?
Lung Transplant Intake Coordinator @ Florida Hospital Transplant Institute

Why do you do what you do?
To help people in need of new lungs to give them a better quality of life.

What do you like most about your job?
Building relationships with the patients and assisting them to successfully make it to transplant.

What is your most memorable experience on the job?
Watching a lung transplant in person. I was up close and personal with the surgeons, clinical staff, and the patient. It was the most amazing thing I have ever seen.

What is the happiest and/or proudest moment of your life?
Happiest was getting married to Matt. Proudest was graduating with my Masters from UCF.

What is your favorite quote?
“If we could live happy and healthy lives without harming others… why wouldn’t we?” – Edgar’s Mission.

Why did you choose to attend UCF?
To be honest, because Matt was going there. We’re high school sweethearts. I’m so glad I did though. I love being a Knight!

How has your UCF degree helped in your career?  
Having both a Bachelor’s & Master’s degrees from UCF will open many doors the further I go into my career. No one can ever take your education away.

What extracurricular activities were you involved in at UCF?
Upsilon Phi Delta member. Graduate Health Network member.  NICU baby cuddler. Community volunteer with various organizations. Attended UCF football games.

What is your favorite UCF memory?
Graduating with my husband, Matt. We got our Masters together in the same program. So many of my family came in from out of state to surprise me to watch us graduate. Both of our families were together for a big party after at our home.

What’s the most important piece of advice you would give to your fellow Knights?
Work hard! It’s worth it. Intern, volunteer, help the community, learn, give 100%. You get back what you put in. No one can ever take your education from you. Don’t let anyone tell you an education is not that important. It’s something to be very proud of.

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