Executive Track Gives Health Care Administration Students an Executive Edge

 In News

Tyler Johnson

Tyler Johnson enjoyed working as an exercise specialist in the cardiac rehab department at Orlando Health. But he knew that he wanted to do more.

His ultimate desire was to transition to an administrative position within the Orlando Health organization and he decided to go for a master’s degree.

“My experience in health care, managing certain aspects of the department and leading projects that add value to our program, was the reason I decided to get my master’s in health care administration,” Johnson said.

Johnson enrolled in the executive track of the program, a specialized, fast-paced online track for students with a minimum of three years work experience who desire to move into management and leadership roles, said academic coordinator Hannah Nguyen.

Hannah Nguyen

“All of our students come into the program with some experiences in the field,” she said. “This allows them to bypass the foundational health-care knowledge and focus more of their studies diving deeper into the latest trending issues and topics that directly impact health-care leaders today.”

Students also have a number of opportunities to get more involved and grow professionally outside the classroom, such as participating in guest lecture opportunities through their local American College of Healthcare Executive chapter.

Shannon Elswick

Recently, the program also has been collaborating with former health-care executive Shannon Elswick, now an executive in residence and instructor in health management and informatics, to develop a mentoring program that is specially designed around leadership development in health care. The mentoring program graduated its first cohort of mentees in August 2017 and is looking forward to adding more students to the program.

Elswick makes it a crucial point to acknowledge from the start where students can go upon graduation.

“I always start the [first] class by asking what [the students] want to be when they ‘grow up.’ And there are plenty of students who want to be the CEO of a hospital,” Elswick said. “And I’m quick to tell them that an MBA in health care administration does not buy them a CEO position.”

Instead, Elswick, and other faculty members, stress the various skills that the students will gain in the program.

“People with degrees from our program could end up working in a wide variety of positions,” he said. “The skill set you get from this program makes you very marketable.”

Johnson said that he gained many tools that proved to be valuable in his position at Orlando Health.

“It has given me the tools to not only bring further value to the cardiac rehab department, “ he said, “but prepared me to network with senior leaders and effectively communicate to strengthen relationships.”

Elswick also hopes to encourage students to broaden their understanding of the definition of leadership in the health-care world.

“If you graduate with a health-care administration degree and you get a job as a manager, you’re still a health-care administrator,” he said.

Johnson, who graduated from the program in August, said completing the program helped him to better develop his skills in networking and personal growth and development. He has even begun implementing his ideas and skills at his workplace and has begun to connect with other leaders to continue growing.

Hearing student success stories like Johnson’s always excites and energizes Nguyen.

“This program really helps students break through that glass ceiling to get to the next level,” Nguyen said. “It helps them to unlock their leadership potential and help shape them into the leaders they want to be in health care.”

Written by Drexler B. James ’13

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