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Healthcare Management Pathways - Coming in Fall 2023

Posted: October 16th, 2022

Dr. Yael Zack is passionate about working with cancer patients as a medical oncologist at a hospital in New York, but she knows that someday she may want to be in a leadership role in addition to providing patient care.

So, this fall, Zack enrolled in the University of Wisconsin MBA Consortium to gain knowledge of the financial aspects of medicine and to build her management skills.

"I hope my education and experience in this program also will help me develop my thought processes to promote my own creativity and innovation so I can help advance patient care and, just as important, explore opportunities to improve physician/provider quality of life at work," Zack says.

While the MBA program has long included courses in healthcare management, it soon will offer even more opportunities for Zack and others who are interested in healthcare management to better align their graduate studies and career interests.

Beginning in Fall 2023, the UW MBA Consortium will offer two healthcare management pathways to prepare healthcare professionals to address the growing challenges within healthcare.

The need for skilled healthcare managers is skyrocketing as the industry becomes more complex, demand for care increases, technology advances and industry regulations constantly change, says Dr. Brewer Doran, dean of UW-Eau Claire's College of Business, which manages the UW MBA Consortium that also includes UW-La Crosse and UW Oshkosh.

The new pathways will allow learners to earn a graduate certificate or add healthcare management as an emphasis as they earn their MBA degree.

"It's exciting because it offers people multiple options," Doran says. "They can dip their toe into graduate school without committing to the full MBA program, complete a stand-alone certificate or start in the MBA program and later add healthcare management as an emphasis."

Courses are offered asynchronously online, something MBA students often find "very appealing if it's done well," Doran says, noting that even part-time students can complete the healthcare management certificate within a year.

This flexibility will appeal to MBA students, many of whom are in their mid-30s, already have significant work experience, and need to balance their studies with family and job commitments, Doran says.

"U.S. News & World Report ranks our MBA among the top 10 programs of its kind in the country because it's a high-quality program that meets the needs of working professionals who want to gain knowledge and advance their careers," Doran says. "Creating these new pathways within the MBA program add even more value for people pursuing careers in healthcare management."

The pathways create a cohesive track for students who want to focus on healthcare management and ensure that the curriculum aligns with accrediting and professional organization standards.

As they build the new curriculum, UW MBA Consortium leaders are tapping into the expertise of the MBA program's alumni, many of whom hold executive positions in businesses and organizations across the country, including some in healthcare.

Jason Craig, a 2010 UW MBA Consortium graduate who is chair of administration, Northwest Wisconsin, at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire, is among the healthcare leaders who see value in the new healthcare management pathway.

Craig says the challenges in healthcare are becoming increasingly complex, a reality that when paired with the rapid development and integration of technology-based care solutions, requires leaders who have broad perspectives.

Pairing the MBA coursework with healthcare focused content will "create the healthcare leaders required to move the industry forward," Craig says, adding that there is a need for managers who can identify "non-traditional and creative solutions" to challenges.

"By offering a healthcare management certificate, the MBA program avails its subject matter expertise in a more focused manner within an industry that's evolving at a rate never seen before," Craig says.

The pathways will strengthen an already excellent MBA program, Craig says, noting that in his daily work he often uses the concepts, principles and approaches he explored through the MBA program.

Craig says the emphasis pathway allows MBA students to gain expertise that directly relates to healthcare while still benefiting from being part of a cohort that includes professionals from many industries.

"This diversity of thought better informs my perspective as our teams work their way through strategic and operational challenges each day," Craig says of learning with and from people across industries.

Doran says the healthcare management pathways are the first of several pathways they expect to add to the UW MBA Consortium. For example, project management pathways are being discussed, she says.

It's logical to start with the healthcare management pathways because UW-Eau Claire already has a strong collaborative relationship with Mayo Clinic Health System, which Doran says is "supportive of and excited about" the healthcare focus.

A focus on healthcare also aligns with the goals of the $9.4 million grant UW-Eau Claire received earlier this year from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. through its Workforce Innovation Grant program. An MBA emphasis in healthcare management is among the six high-skill degrees UW-Eau Claire said it will create through the grant.

"Already, the value we offer learners is unmatched by other MBA programs given its quality, flexibility and accessibility," Doran says of the UW MBA Consortium. "Our goal now is to build on that foundation as we identify new ways to meet the needs of learners in Wisconsin and around the world."  

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