Laura Riddell, a recent graduate of both the Graduate Certificate and Master of Science in healthcare management programs, is a shining example of the personal transition that is possible when you complete a graduate degree in healthcare management. She recently shared her educational story with us and explained why she decided to pursue a graduate degree in healthcare management and how it has changed her life.
Why did you decide to pursue a degree in healthcare management?
I initially started out in a different track for education and spent a couple of years' worth of time and energy following that direction before I came to the painful realization that it wasn't the right fit for me. Healthcare management had always been an interest, but I needed some life lessons to understand that it was the right track for me. Once made the decision, things moved pretty quickly; I started classes two weeks later."
Why transition from the certificate to the M.S.?
From the beginning, I had a hunch that I would continue on to complete the masters…but the combination of the challenging coursework and the exceptional instructors during the first two terms solidified it for me; it was an amazing experience. My undergraduate education was at a state school with very large classes. The healthcare management program offers small class sizes, very individualized attention, and quality coursework. The professors are truly exemplary and inspiring.
How did the graduate degree help you transition your career?
Nearly every class in this program had a project associated with it, and the vast majority of those projects were approached with a real-world perspective. The bulk of the assignments were based on or directly tied to a project that I or one of my peers was facing in their current job. This was a real-world application to a level I have never experienced and gave me exposure to parts of the organization that I might not otherwise see; it greatly broadened my perspective.
How will this degree help you make future career transitions?
I really feel that it was the launching pad to the position I have now. This degree acts as the foundation of knowledge that I needed to be capable of taking this job while understanding that I will be building on it and growing as a result of this experience throughout the remainder of my career.
Why would you recommend the program to others?
I would recommend it for two reasons. Firstly, because the coursework was outstanding and directly applicable to my work. Everything I learned I could use immediately when I went to work. Secondly, the schedule paired well with work; it allowed me to work full-time which was a financial imperative.
What is your advice for succeeding in these programs?
Do not to be intimidated by it. I think for a lot of students, including myself, the idea of going back to grad school, (especially going to grad school while working full-time) was daunting. It was very intimidating for me at the start and I felt like I didn't have a lot to offer…I felt shy about putting in my two cents, but of course, I had to, and as soon as I started becoming involved in the conversation, I got overwhelmingly positive feedback. Even those who had been managers for years felt like "oh that's a fresh new perspective that I hadn't thought of," and meanwhile I get to take advantage of the wealth of knowledge and experience that they offer; there is an understanding that everybody brings something different to the table and it all adds to the conversation, and the learning for the entire group.
INTERVIEW HAS BEEN CONDENSED AND EDITED.