A team of four CUI Healthcare Administration graduate students participated for the first time in the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) Statewide College Bowl. ACHE is a professional society for healthcare leaders providing career development, education, networking and board certification in healthcare management for 48,000 members worldwide.
“I was so impressed with our students because they went up against teams that compete every year: USC, Loma Linda University, all the Cal State schools,” says Dr. Cathi Sinardi, director and associate professor of CUI’s master’s degree programs in Healthcare Administration and Public Health, and the bachelor’s degree in Healthcare Management. “Not many small universities competed, and they were up against teams who’ve done this for a long time.”
The team had one month to conduct a comprehensive analysis and provide solutions to a complex case, in which a health care provider from Northern California sought to know if it should expand to the Inland Empire of Southern California.
“It was comparable to consulting,” says Sinardi. “They were given a real-life issue provided by a healthcare organization, collected and analyzed data to formulate strategies and solutions, and presented recommendations based on their findings.”
CUI team captain Reanna Benton, MHA ’21, who recently graduated with her MHA, says the team members each brought different strengths to the project. One had worked in a startup, another in human resources and logistics, another in accounting, and another in electronic systems.
“The nice part was to see how we could work together in a group,” Benton says. “Teamwork is what CUI’s master’s program emphasizes.” Together, they analyzed the case and submitted an executive summary and PowerPoint slides, then presented their recommendations in front of panel of judges which included current and former C-suite level health care executives of hospitals and health systems.
“The judges were high-level executives with a tremendous amount of experience in healthcare administration,” Sinardi says. “It’s a good networking opportunity for students. If a judge or member of the audience takes interest in their presentation or recommendations, it could do a lot for their career.”
It was also a lot of work outside of a regular curriculum and a regular job. Each member of the team was attending CUI and working full-time. They were not allowed to receive guidance from faculty members, but had to function essentially as an independent consulting entity.
“I watched the video of their presentation later and was blown away,” says Sinardi. Though the team didn’t win the competition, Benton says she was able to understand a strategic shift taking place at her actual employer because it relates to the same issue they addressed in the case study.
“It was because of the case study that I knew what was going on,” she says. “I had done my research.”