New health-care program exceeds expectations

MSUM debuted a new master’s program for the fall 2013 semester. Enrollment for the master of health-care administration exceeded expectations its first semester out of the gate and offers a specialized learning opportunity for graduate students looking for careers in health care.

“This was a joint effort between the business department, nursing department and health-care leadership,” said Melanie Schicker, director of the new program. The curriculum incorporates elements from each department and is designed to give students an edge in the growing and competitive health-care field.

Of 23 applicants, 19 were accepted, which far exceeded the department’s expectations. Schicker said she expects an upward trend in the number of applicants and has already been receiving inquiries for spring semester enrollment.

“It’s unique to this area,” Schicker said about the program, adding that Fargo-Moorhead offers a great location for this type of education as “it’s become kind of a mecca of health care and health-care jobs, so a lot of people are staying here for this program and hoping to find employment here.”

The growing presence of health-care organizations in the metro has also provided the opportunity for input from community health-care leaders.

“We have had an amazing amount of support … Administrative level health-care leaders have supported the program and given input. They have helped to guide the development of the program,” Schicker said.

This support gives students a basis of what their future employers will expect. Connections to community health-care leaders also give students the chance for real life experience as they complete their capstone projects, many of which will be completed working closely with these leaders. The emphasis on real world application is another unique aspect of the program.

“Health care is constantly changing, so keeping up on the changes is important,” said Alyssa Striefel, a 2013 MSUM graduate now pursuing this master’s degree. “The program is also polishing students’ writing and critical thinking skills, which are essential in the field.”

“If you want to hold a leadership position, a master’s will be essential in getting there,” added Melissa Larson, another 2013 graduate enrolled in the program.

For her students, Schicker hopes to see some of them stick around the area after completing the program. “They’ll make those connections and have those relationships that will get them hired locally. It’s always good to keep those students here when they’ve been educated here. We like to see them assume leadership roles,” she said.

Fargo-Moorhead provides ample opportunity. Multiple health-care organizations have been established in the area, along with Sanford Health’s construction of a nearly $500 million hospital slated to open its doors in 2016-17.

“We’re in a 20-year growth cycle,” Schicker said about the health-care field, adding she hopes the new program will offer graduates an edge as they begin their careers.

Striefel gave a word of advice to students who may be considering furthering their degree: “Do it! If you want to advance in the field of healthcare administration, it is essential.”

BY KRISTIN MILLER
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