MBA Combines Small But Diverse Cohort, Online Classes

  • Article by: Nancy Crotti
  • Star Tribune Sales and Marketing
  • May 18, 2009 - 10:06 AM

Twin Cities' colleges and universities offer a number of MBA programs, including some highly regarded programs that focus on healthcare. To separate itself from the pack, the University of St. Thomas offers a Health Care MBA that seeks to attract students from all aspects of healthcare, from physicians and pharmacists, to nurses and medical device professionals to everyone in between.

The university accepts only 25 students each September for a 27-month cohort program that combines classroom and online education. On-campus sessions are held twice each semester. There are no set class times for the online work, which includes lectures, assignments, examinations and group work.

The Wide World Of Healthcare

Kathy Kupfer had been enrolled in St. Thomas' standard evening MBA program while working as a manager in the Allina system but dropped out when personal circumstances intervened. When she was ready to return to school, Kupfer stumbled upon the Health Care UST MBA and realized it would be perfect. In addition to helping her obtain a new position, the program expanded her understanding of the larger healthcare picture.

"There were people there from clinics, there were physicians in private practice, physician leaders, people from hospitals and insurance companies," Kupfer explains. "You learn from them as much as you do from the program. It was extremely valuable to learn more about clinics and managed care, coming from a hospital background."

When Allina went through a restructuring, Kupfer landed a position as director of quality management at UCare, a managed care insurance plan in Minneapolis. "I really don't think I could have gotten that position without the Health Care MBA," she says, adding, "In addition to just getting a great education, it provides you with a lifelong cadre of people you can network with on an ongoing basis."

Learning How Others Work

The Health Care UST MBA provides all the standard MBA courses with a healthcare twist, according to Jack Militello, professor of management and director of the program. "We focus on the experience of care, delivering something to a patient. But we recognize that in order to deliver it to the patient you have to know how the other business models work."

Militello appreciates how the small number of students and their diverse backgrounds help them build relationships among themselves and with faculty while improving the program. "We ask people to give us feedback and because we have these relationships with these people the feedback is constructive. We respond and we change things."

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