When Lauren Illescas took a job with a company that handles billing and scheduling for hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers (ASC), she fell in love with the healthcare industry.
“There’s always something new and exciting happening in health care,” she says.
Illescas was soon promoted to vice president of operations, and started looking for a strong Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) program to gain further education as her career developed. She and her husband — high school sweethearts — had already earned their bachelors’ degrees together in the same cohort in CUI’s adult degree completion program. So in 2016, Illescas enrolled in CUI’s MHA program — while she was six months pregnant.
“It was important to me how the classes were structured, so that online meetings always happened after the baby had gone to bed,” she says. “It helped us structure life where we were both working full-time, having a baby at home and still getting the degree done.”
Illescas calls Concordia’s MHA program “really eye-opening.”
“It gave me a fuller picture of how we render care,” she says. “On the business side, patients can become, to some extent, numbers, whereas on the clinical side you’re understanding individual patient care. It gave me a more balanced view of the industry and made me more passionate about patients receiving the best care they can receive.”
It gave me a fuller picture of how we render care.
The blend of clinical and business training at CUI also deepened her understanding of hospital operations, which was helpful to guide her discussions with hospital CFOs. The high quality of CUI’s faculty and adjunct professors was a huge benefit, she says.
“These are people who really do on a daily basis what they’re teaching you to do,” she says. “Most of them gave us their contact information and offered to help us in the future. So we walked away with a big network of people in the industry. That’s pretty invaluable. You can spend a lot of time getting that level of a network.”
Most of them gave us their contact information and offered to help us in the future. So we walked away with a big network of people in the industry. That’s pretty invaluable. You can spend a lot of time getting that level of a network.
When Illescas graduated in spring 2018, she was 35 weeks pregnant with their second child. “I bookended my program with babies,” she says with a laugh.
Today, Illescas believes the MHA degree is “definitely paying off” and has given her a broader ability to see what’s next in her career. The course on operations management in particular equipped her with “really applicable, practical knowledge on ways to improve production within my own company” of 65 employees.
Illescas aims one day to serve as Chief Operating Officer at a hospital or ASC.
“Having the MHA degree from Concordia gives me a lot of comfort and confidence that not only am I on a good career path, but I have even more potential now,” Illescas says. “I have a lot of options to develop my career from here.”