NEWS for Alumni of the Department of Health Policy and Administration COLLEGE OF HEALTH AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT Winter 2014
MHA program earns seven-year accreditation The Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME) announced on Nov. 12 the maximum seven-year reaccreditation of the Penn State Master of Health Administration program in the Department of Health Policy and Administration. CAHME reviewers performed their site visit of the program during the past spring semester. MHA Executive Director Jonathan Clark explains that the successes of the program and its graduates is possible because of a strong foundation on which the program has grown. “This accreditation is a great achievement for our program,” Clark says. “Under Karen Volmar’s leadership, and Michael Meacham’s before that, the program has flourished and gained national prominence, and this recognition only serves to underscore that.” Clark adds that the CAHME decision to accredit the program for a full seven years is another testament to the program’s success.
A committee of full-time and adjunct faculty members and one student representative governs the MHA program, which was approved by the Board of Trustees in 1987. The program is dedicated to the needs of new and early careerists in health care and is intended for full-time residential students completing the program in 21 months. The MHA program currently has 28 students (14 first- and 14 second-year students and a placement rate of more than 94 percent). “Though we have work ahead of us to ensure continued excellence, the efforts that went into achieving this recognition have positioned us well to deliver on our vision of the future: cultivating health care leaders who create value wherever they serve,” Clark says. In addition to the efforts of former directors Volmar and Meacham and past Department Head Dennis Shea, Clark recognizes the work of interim Department Head Diane Brannon on curricular and competency issues and Tamara Smith on her administrative efforts to record and report needed information for the CAHME review. The next accreditation site visit for the MHA program is set for spring 2020.
Message from Diane Brannon, interim HPA Dept. Head The times, indeed, are changing. Locally, as you may know, on July 1, 2013, Dennis Shea became associate dean for undergraduate education and outreach for the college, a role to which he is bringing deep knowledge and seemingly boundless energy. I agreed to serve a one-year term as interim department head while we do a national search for a new department head. While my knowledge of current administrative policy and practice is anything but deep and my energy decidedly bounded, my commitment is strong and my colleagues are supportive. We are muddling through in fine form. I am retiring at the end of fall semester 2014, and I am confident that the search will bring highly effective leadership well before that time. Stay tuned… Also, a lot of change is underway in higher education, as well as in health care, and the department is adapting and contributing on a number of fronts. Specifically, the quest for increased value is a major current force in higher education, as well as in health care. Let me share a few highlights of how we are responding to these challenges.
HPA is at the leading edge of the college’s commitment to extend access to its educational programs through web-based programs. We are in our second year of rolling out our online MHA program. This has been a major undertaking that would not have been feasible without the support provided by the college and the World Campus. Chris Calkins is the program’s director, and he and the staff are managing the marketing, advising, and course development (adaptation to online teaching and learning of our existing courses) and ensuring that the curriculum syncs with our CAHME accredited residential MHA program. Chris, as well as several other HPA faculty members, is teaching in the program. There is a lot of learning going on as they work with instructional design professionals to adapt to the modality and the professional adult learning environment. “Old” dogs are, indeed, learning new tricks! We are now looking at alternative ways of providing the HPA BS program, as well as certificate programs, in order to provide manageable career development opportunities. The Association of University Programs in Health Administration recertified the undergraduate program last year, and the program continues to be highly regarded, as it is led by Teta Barry, who is also piloting a number of new approaches to increase student engagement through service learning and team-based teaching. The residential MHA received very positive feedback from its reaccreditation site visitors last spring. The quality of the curriculum and the extent to which we were leading the field in adopting competency-based teaching and learning were noted. The program received the maximum accreditation term of seven years. This provides a wonderful opportunity for experimentation for the program, led by Jonathan Clark, an expert in operational and strategic performance improvement. Research by HPA faculty is evolving in keeping with the changes prompted by recent policy developments. The increase in standardized indicators of both process and outcome, the “meaningful use” of electronic health records, and the expansion of primary care are all reflected in work that is currently underway. The largest and most mature of these studies is led by Dennis Scanlon. It is the evaluation of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s national demonstration, Aligning Forces for Quality. Simply put, this group has been studying the experience of sixteen community alliances in which providers, payers, and consumers are collaborating to improve quality and contain costs. Rich qualitative interview data, surveys, and publicly available outcomes data are being merged to tell these stories and to make other contributions such as developing a conceptual framework for consumer engagement that will facilitate this increasingly important component of the health care process (Mittler and collegues). Other studies include observing the processes of change that accompany the medical home accreditation process (Mittler and O’Hora) and examining the economic impacts of cancer survivorship (Short and Moran), as well as the research featured in the following stories. Please stay in touch,
S. Diane Brannon Professor and Interim Head
THE 17 TH ANNUAL STANLEY P. MAYERS ENDOWED LECTURE
Cleveland Clinic physician, executive to give Mayers Lecture: Leadership, Collaboration, and Change in Healthcare
The 17th Annual Stanley P. Mayers Endowed Lecture this spring will feature a noted pulmonary/critical care physician and chairman of the Education Institute at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. James K. Stoller, M.D., M.S.O.D.A., will speak on Wednesday, April 9. The Mayers event begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Nittany Lion Inn Boardroom. All are welcome to attend this lecture. Please contact Joyce Hanscom at email@example.com if you are interested in attending or for more information. Among his achievements, Stoller also serves as the head of Cleveland Clinic Respiratory Therapy and is a member of the Respiratory Institute at the Cleveland Clinic, where he also served previously as the vice chairman of medicine and as executive director of physician leadership development. He holds the Jean Wall Bennett Professorship of Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University and the Samson Global leadership Academy Endowed Chair. He also has a secondary appointment as professor of organizational behavior in the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University.
Dr. James Kevin Stoller
STANLEY P. MAYERS ENDOWED LECTURE April 9, 2014 at 7:30 p.m. The Nittany Lion Inn Boardroom
Message from APG President Chris Gada We may not know each other personally, but we all share something very special in common, our love of Penn State. As I reflect on my days as a student, I recognize that one of the most positive experiences to help me develop personally and professionally came from fellow alumni. And now I have the pleasure to begin my journey to give back as an alumnus. I have been a Lifetime Alumni Member since Chris Gada ’92 1992, a member of the HPA APG for the past three years, and am now honored to serve as president of the HPA APG. With all of the changes we have encountered over the years, we continue to demonstrate that we are strong and have risen above the challenges. With that said, the HPA APG is one of the fastest growing alumni families due to each committee chair and his or her members. The success shared involves bringing alumni and students together at social events on and off campus with support of local Penn State alumni chapters. This commitment increases awareness and paves the path
Alumni tailgate offers chances to connect and reconnect Penn State unfortunately met defeat in a not-so-memorable nail biter against the Cornhuskers of Nebraska on November 23. However, the Senior Day football matchup did provide more than two dozen alumni a memorable opportunity to catch up and meet one another at the first Health Policy and Administration Affiliate Program Group (HPA APG) tailgate. For more than three hours, fellow alumni shared stories and reminisced while enjoying hot food on a cold autumn day. The tailgate was perfectly located opposite to where the players arrive for the game, so lots of energy and excitement led up to kickoff. The APG group plans to make the tailgate an annual event, but perhaps earlier in the season when temperatures are milder. The APG group extends its thanks to all who helped with organizing and setting up the tailgate.
to strengthen our recurring events, such as Professionals in the Classroom, the Mentoring Program, and most recently the Alumni Tailgate at the Penn State vs. Nebraska football game (Nov. 23), which was a huge success. As we look to the future, 2014 is already filled with a number of great events. We encourage alumni and students to join us on our LinkedIn and Facebook pages, as well as visit www.hhdev.psu.edu/hpa/alumnu to stay up to date with exciting events and to also be in touch with other HPA Alumni. Getting involved with the APG is a great way to network professionally and personally throughout the country and, as always, provide an opportunity to bring everyone back together where many of us began our journey ...WE ARE PENN STATE! The College of Health and Human Development alumni group is over 50,000 strong and the staff, faculty, and APG has made this possible. We want to hear from you! We welcome all suggestions and support to further grow our family. Lastly, don’t forget to join one of the largest alumni networks in the world—The Penn State Alumni Association Lifetime Membership, the ultimate next step in staying engaged (www.alumni.psu.edu). Please know that I am here and committed to provide support and guidance to the HPA APG. Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
HPA/APG group taps new officers, members Newly elected HPA APG officers and board members include: President-Elect — Joseph R. Thear Jr., MBA Our HPA APG president-elect is Joe Thear, a 1984 Penn State Health Policy and Administration graduate. A very active alumnus, Thear just completed serving his second three-year term on the College of Health and Human Development’s Alumni Council. He also has been a mentor in the HPA student-mentor program since its inception and is currently serving as a mentor in the new MHA mentor program. Thear is employed at MITRE Corporation as a health care principal, focused on assisting The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in the adoption and roll out of the Affordable Care Act. His thirty-year health care career spans thirteen years in health care information technology space employed as senior revenue cycle consultant for McKesson Provider Technology and vice president of product management at QuadraMed Corporation. He spent the previous seventeen years in the provider space working in health systems finance and information services in the Mid-Atlantic region. Thear also holds a Master of Business Administration in health finance and administration from Marywood University. He is a nationally recognized speaker on the subject of health care revenue-cycle management and information technology and is a member of HFMA, AHIMA, NAHAM, and HIMSS.
Member-at-Large — Jon Arthur Jon Arthur is a senior associate with PriceWaterhouse Coopers (PwC) in the Health Industries Advisory Practice. He provides services to clients across the full spectrum of the firm’s health care offerings in the provider, payer, and pharmaceutical spaces. He has worked with large health networks, academic medical centers, top insurance companies, and multiple pharmaceutical/medical device firms. In this capacity, Arthur has provided services such as perioperative IT assessments, ICD-10 conversion guidance, revenuecycle management, surgical-preference-card remediation, sterile-process optimization, supply-chain management, and health-information technology vendor validation. Arthur specializes in the provider operations sector, specifically hospital systems, and provides subject matter expertise in pre-hospital patient care and technology. He also is involved in several international ventures with PwC member firm’s to improve EMS services and patient care abroad. Arthur graduated from Penn State in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in health policy and administration. Before joining PwC, Arthur worked as an emergency medical technician, fire fighter, and EMS supervisor.
Undergraduate Student Representative — Theresa DeAngelis Originally from Quakertown, Pa., Theresa DeAngelis is a senior in the HPA program with a minor in women’s studies, and is expecting to graduate in May of 2014. She recently completed an administrative internship at Mount Nittany Medical Center. Her academic interests include addressing health care disparities and increasing quality of care. After graduation, she plans to pursue a law degree.
MHA Student Representative — Yamini Kalidindi Yamini Kalidindi is a graduate student pursuing her Master of Health Administration degree. She received her bachelor’s degree in dental surgery from India in 2011 and then decided to pursue her master’s degree in the United States. Her main areas of interest are data analysis and revenue-cycle management. She completed her summer administrative residency at Riverside Health System in Newport News, Virginia, where she was involved in identifying collection rates on accounts receivable. Kalidindi also volunteers at Mount Nittany Medical Center and has been instrumental in assisting the center with a Community Health Needs Assessment.
Ph.D. student earns competitive Kligman Fellowship Health policy and administration doctoral student Jennifer O’Hora has been named a Kligman Fellow, an honor that provides funds for outstanding graduate students from the College of Health and Human Development and helps fellows proceed with their own research and education. In receiving this distinction, established by Albert and Lorraine Kligman, O’Hora joins a prestigious Jennifer O’Hora and select group of researchers and scientists throughout the nation and around the world who have benefitted from the funding since the endowment’s establishment in 1998. O’Hora’s research focuses on the role of organizational culture in organizational transformation, specifically examining the Patient-Centered Medical Home implementation in five primary care practices. She explains that while organizational culture is understood to be a key driver of change, little is known about how that relationship unfolds. “Many health care organizations are exploring or undergoing transformation in response to new regulations and calls for efficiency, and they seek
guidance on change management strategies that will help them overcome the obstacles to realizing sustainable transformation,” she says. O’Hora says that this fellowship will help her manage her time to complete data analysis and write her dissertation. “I am triangulating fifty-three interviews with representatives of each professional role, with survey data and observations, to gain in-depth insight into organizational culture and transformation in the primary care practices,” she says. “I conducted two rounds of data collection, one month post-implementation of key PCMH components and again nine months later, in order to examine organizational culture over time and the extent of transformation.” She explains that “sifting and sorting” through this data, especially the qualitative data, takes significant time. “I am so grateful for this award as it enables me to dedicate my time to thoroughly analyzing the data and communicating the results most effectively.” Reflecting on her selection, she says, “I am very appreciative to the college and the Kligmans for this award. It offers doctoral students an opportunity for funding that is otherwise very challenging to receive.” She also voiced her appreciation to her dissertation committee, particularly her dissertation chair, Jessica Mittler, assistant professor of health policy and administration.
Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health Names Deputy Director Larry Baronner, a long-time staff member at the Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health (PORH), recently was named PORH’s rural health systems manager and deputy director. Baronner joined the office in February 2001. As PORH’s critical access hospital (CAH) coordinator, Baronner implemented the Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility and the Small Rural Hospital Improvement Programs in the state and led the implementation of the balanced scorecard framework for small rural hospitals, financial and quality improvement and initiatives on emergency medical services, Level IV trauma certification for CAHs, and healthLarry Baronner information technology. Under his leadership, the state’s thirteen CAHs formed the Pennsylvania Critical Access Hospital Consortium, through which the CAHs benefit from technical assistance on a wide range of financial, operational, and leadership issues and from shared learning.
Larry has grown a number of very successful programs in Pennsylvania and has helped us become a strong state office of rural health; he is a great source of entrepreneurial thinking,” notes PORH Director Lisa Davis. “And his background in human relations is an enormous asset to the office as well. Prior to coming to PORH, Baronner was chief operating officer of a hospital-owned medical practice and also served as director of physician services and assistant director of personnel within the hospital. Baronner was named “State Rural Health Leader of the Year” in 2006. He holds an undergraduate and graduate degree from Saint Francis University in Loretto, Pa., and a graduate degree from Penn State. PORH was established in 1991 to enhance the health status of rural Pennsylvanians and strengthen the delivery and quality of care in the communities in which they live. Each year, the organization presents awards to recognize rural health programs and individuals who have made substantial contributions to rural health in Pennsylvania. To learn more about the Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health, visit www.porh.psu.edu.
Commission for Women lauds doctoral student This award spotlights Penn State women who have shown notable leadership and accomplishment in their fields and have gone beyond the requirements of their employment duties and responsibilities in support of the University’s diversity efforts, promotion of equal opportunity, or contribution to human causes and public service activities.
Holmes’s dissertation focuses on breast cancer and examines the impact of family context on screening, the experience of breast cancer among patients with dependent children, and the feasibility of using telemedicine to assess breast cancer risk in the developing world.
Holmes’s primary professional interests include health disparities, access to health care, and innovation in health care for resource-constrained environments, particularly developing countries. Among her experiences, Holmes served as a Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship Fellow in rural Kenya, where she piloted innovative health systems data collection tools to increase access to personal health information and health professionals in rural areas through a telemedicine social franchise. Additionally, for three years, she conducted breast cancer disparities research in Appalachia as a Susan G. Komen PostBaccalaureate Training in Disparities Program scholar.
Holmes points out that the Commission for Women recognition came as a surprise to her. “I didn’t Katelyn Holmes know that I had been nominated,” she says. “I received a call from the CFW congratulating me on winning the award, and I was completely floored. During the award ceremony, I was able to meet all of the other awardees. I’m not sure that I have ever met so many impressive and passionate women in such a short period of time. I cannot express how huge of an honor it was to be considered part of this group.”
The Penn State Commission for Women has recognized HPA doctoral candidate Katelyn Holmes among its “Achieving Women.”
Ph.D. candidate earns ‘Best Student Poster’ accolades at AcademyHealth Silvera’s research, in part, examined data from HCAHPS surveys to capture the degree of empathy within specific health care organizations. Specifically, Silvera used performance ratings from eight topic areas— communication of doctor, communication of nurses, responsiveness of staff, communication about medicine, pain management, quietness of hospital, cleanliness of hospital, and discharge information—all of which are relatable to practices of empathetic organizations.
The Container Store, Mary Kay Cosmetics, and Apple Computers are considered empathetic organizations based on their ability to understand and sometimes predict the needs of their satisfied customers. With this in mind, explains Geoffrey Silvera, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Health Policy and Administration, health care organizations can also strive to become more empathetic toward their customers—the patients. Silvera and his poster highlighting his research recently were honored at AcademyHealth’s Annual Research Meeting (ARM) in Baltimore. Titled “Empathy Revealed,” Silvera’s poster earned “Best Student Poster” accolades.
“I think what might have made the difference with this work is that a customer service orientation is easy to interpret, but notoriously hard to measure,” Silvera says. “Dr. Jonathan Clark and I have found a way to isolate a measurement from the existing HCAHPS, and I’m glad that others in the academy are as excited as we are about it.” Silvera’s study suggests a need to reorient systems around patients to ensure patient-centered, empathic care. Such care, Silvera stresses, is possible in “an organization that is capable of identifying, understanding, and responding to the physical and emotional needs of those they serve.” AcademyHealth’s ARM hosts more than 2,400 attendees each year who gather to discuss health policy implications, sharpen research methods, and network with colleagues from around the world. As for his recognition, Silvera says, “It is a great honor, and we look forward to pushing this research agenda forward.”
Penn State Athletic Communications
Lady Lion maintains focus both on the court and in the classroom By Jonathan Yuko (senior) If you were asked to play a division-I sport such as women’s basketball at an academically rigorous university such as Penn State, all while maintaining a high standard in the classroom, you might admit that this endeavor would be an extremely difficult task, considering the busy practice and game schedule, as well as numerous classroom assignments that require much focus. To Ariel Edwards, however, these achievements are all in a day’s work. A highly talented senior, Edwards, of Elmont, New York, has played a key role during the Lady Lions’ 2013 Big Ten Championship season, scoring 252 points in the year and going 6 of 10 on field goals, with 13 points in the Lady Lions’ devastating second-round NCAA Tournament loss to LSU. Most importantly, Edwards makes sure that she not only performs well on the court but also in her major of health policy and administration. After being heavily recruited by numerous big name, division-I programs such as Kentucky and Boston College, Edwards chose Penn State. With a scientific influence from her father, who is a biology teacher, Edwards originally believed the pre-medical route was the academic path for her. After arriving on campus and speaking with her coaches and academic adviser, she discovered the HPA major. Edwards
plans to begin her career with a clinical position as a nurse, and later migrate toward a position of health care management in oncology, the main area where her interests lie. She plans to attend nursing school due to her passion for patient care. When asked if it is difficult to keep up with her school work while playing on the women’s basketball team, Edwards says she works hard to manage both school and athletics due to the high standards she sets for herself in each category. “The main thing I try to do is get my work done early,” she explains. “I am also sure to hold open communication with all of my professors.” Overall, Edwards sees Penn State professors as being very understanding and flexible when it comes to her needing to miss classes due to road trips. “It is important to make use of all the resources Penn State has to offer such as study groups, and tutors, and do your very best to work even when you may not feel up to it,” she explains. Edwards ranks winning the Big Ten Championship as her proudest moment on the court as a Lady Lion, while earning a 4.0 GPA during her first semester on Penn State’s campus as a freshman is her proudest moment in the classroom.
Summer grad reflects on internship in Belgium HPA 2013 summer graduate Kelly Wehner is fresh off the heels of a unique internship opportunity that not only exposed her to global health initiatives in seven countries but also gave her no other choice but to brush up on her conversational French. Wehner earned her bachelor of science degree, which also included a minor in global health, in August just weeks after returning from her internship in Brussels, Belgium, where she worked with the Belgium Ministry of Health and the Université Libre de Bruxelles. Among her duties, Wehner interacted with health leaders regarding quality promotion within Frenchspeaking hospitals; instructed colleagues on the Joint Commission International Tracer Methodology for accreditation; and traveled to France, Netherlands, Germany, England, Switzerland, and Luxembourg. Additionally, Wehner participated in various meetings, one of which examined health care successes and challenges within seven different European countries. “My different observational and participatory activities throughout my internship have broadened my understanding of how Europe as a whole works together to improve health care,” she says. “Although each country has a different system, each region governs its health care differently, and each hospital launches different initiatives and shares ideas and discusses progress. This allows each country to blend different aspects of other systems into their own.” Wehner concludes that the opportunity to rotate her internship work between the federal public health sector and the academic setting was valuable, especially since she worked every day to enhance her French skills. “This opportunity has been very rewarding. I am just as ambitious as ever, and I hope to move forward with acquiring new skills and developing a great professional career.” Kelly Wehner
HPA Mentoring Program leads student to state capitol By Alec Sanchez (junior) Many people who head into college have a major in mind, a drive for success, and maybe even a plan for the future. But how do such goal-oriented individuals reach their dreams? What is the main piece of the puzzle every student needs to navigate the new world of academia? Guidance! The HPA mentoring program helps to guide students toward ideal paths that lead to successful futures. The mentoring program joins students with alumni mentors, providing students with a bridge from their academics to the workplace. Laura Berry, an HPA senior at Penn State, was fortunate to find a mentor in Russ McDaid ’90 BA Broadcast/Cable ’95 MHA, whose previous work with a statewide long-term care trade association led both mentor and protégé to a Pennsylvania Senate hearing in Harrisburg on the changes to the Department of Public Welfare (DPW). Berry explains that the hearing focused on expanding home care, on the proposed expansions of Medicaid, and on a lack of funding toward DPW programs. Berry says the senate hearing was a positive experience that began with her involvement in the mentoring program, a program that she
sees as “a great way to improve yourself professionally, gain insight on the health care field, and narrow your path even more. It is great to make those connections and to take advantage of what the HPA department is offering you!” McDaid, who currently serves as executive vice president/COO of the Pennsylvania Health Care Association/Center for Assisted Living Management (PHCA/CALM), finds his experiences with the mentoring program to be rewarding. “I volunteered for the mentoring program as a way to ‘give back’ to a school and program that helped shape my career in health care policy,” he says. “I have gotten as much from my protégés in their fresh perspectives and enthusiasm for health care and policy development as I have given to them.” McDaid, a mentor since 2000, says that Berry has a strong drive for success in her education and her future career. “The first impression you get when you meet Laura is a very genuine enthusiasm—for her studies, for life, for the elders she hopes to assist, for the HPA program, and for Penn State in general,” he says. “I am impressed with that enthusiasm and the initiative she has shown by changing majors to HPA and going after a career in health administration/long-term care.”
Alumni spotlight: Bill Burmeister ’09 MHA Workplace: Middlesex Health System, Middletown, CT Title: Director of Physician Practice Relations Place of residence: Madison, CT
Questions: How did you end up in your specific field of health care? Upon graduation, I entered into an administrative fellowship at Middlesex Hospital, where I trained for one year with senior leadership and was shortly thereafter hired into a business and operations manager position for the Department of Nursing. After about three years and a wealth of experience gained in inpatient operations, I moved to the outpatient-/physician-practice side of the health system to expand my knowledge base and gain experience in system development as director of physician practice relations. What core courses or electives best prepared you for this specific field? I would say any course involving case studies and simulation best prepared me coming out of Penn State. Without remembering specific course numbers, health care strategy, management, and communication courses, particularly those requiring oral presentations and debate, were most beneficial for me as an early careerist. Each finance and statistics course provided the basic skillset needed for key proposals and budget management in both positions, and both the residency and capstone requirements provided the real-life experience necessary to be successful. What are the positives in your field that keep you focused and interested every day? Health care is forever changing, and while oftentimes a source of stress and concern, it’s quite exciting to evaluate new operations and strategies in response to changes in the environment. When you combine that constant change with the amazing stories and compassion you see every day, there’s never a dull moment in what we do. Above all else for me, my wife and I were blessed this past summer with a premature baby and spent 101 days in neonatal intensive care with her. Watching all of the amazing work by the many professionals who cared for her during that time made me realize more than anything how important what we do really is. She is now a healthy and happy 6 month old and will always be what keeps me focused and interested in what I do. Can you offer a few words of wisdom or advice to students who may be interested in your field? With all of the many credentials and egos in health care, such a critical
component of success is in the way you present yourself from day one in this field. Whether it’s simple mannerisms, dress, communication in any form, or simply throwing on a smile, the little things go a long way as long as you have the drive and the work ethic. How has the MHA program helped you reach your career goals? After receiving my undergraduate degree, I did not feel I had the knowledge or understanding necessary to succeed in an entry-level management position in an industry that values experience, which is why I opted to continue right into a master’s program. That decision proved incredibly valuable for me as I felt I had the skills, knowledge, and experience necessary after two years to succeed right away. I firmly believe the MHA program served as the foundation necessary to excel immediately and climb more quickly than had I decided to come out of school immediately. The diverse curriculum, stress on communication, and simulated and real-life case studies offer a unique background for any early careerist. Describe a particular class, professor, or event that impacted you positively: Dr. Deirdre McCaughey’s instruction and mentoring in her strategy and management courses provided an opportunity to delve into case studies and simulations to gain some valuable experience working through real-life issues I faced in my first few years on the job. She challenged all of our ideas and arguments through group discussions and forced us to look at issues from every angle before recommending a solution or arguing a certain point. Also, describe what you found to be the most challenging in your MHA and/or career pursuits: It is always challenging to gain the trust and respect of certain colleagues and departments as a non-clinical leader. Credentials and experience are extremely valued in this industry, and as an early careerist with a business-only background, it can be difficult to overcome. Thankfully, the MHA program still provided extensive medical knowledge and deeper system teachings that allowed me to understand and relate to clinical staff while at the same time bringing a unique perspective to the table.
Joe Dionisio earns teaching honors from HHD Alumni Society Joe Dionisio, a professor of practice and director of external relations and professional development in the Master of Health Administration program, has earned the 2013 Excellence in Teaching award. Presented by the College of Health and Human Development’s Alumni Society, the award recognizes and rewards outstanding educators for their excellence in teaching and for their contributions to the art of teaching. As part of the nominating criteria for the award, a candidate must be successful as a teacher, both in competence of subject matter and in ability to inspire students to high achievements, and he or she must have improved the tools of and/or conditions for teaching. Dionisio is a former health care executive with more than 35 years’ experience in health care financial management, primarily with large integrated delivery networks of hospitals and physicians. He also previously served as a regional health care partner with PriceWaterhouse. Dionisio currently teaches HPA 297A, Accounting and Health Services Organizations (introductory accounting); HPA 433, Managing in Integrated Delivery Systems; HPA 447, Introduction to Healthcare Financial Management; and HPA 835, Advanced Healthcare Financial Management. Through his experiences teaching these courses and guiding MHA students toward professional careers, Dionisio finds his work to be especially rewarding, with his greatest rewards coming from the reactions/responses of students and fellow faculty members. Reflecting on being nominated and selected for the Excellence in Teaching award, Dionisio says, “What an honor for a former health care executive who is doing his socalled encore helping prepare future health care leaders face the industry’s challenges ... and how gratifying it is to know that my emphasis on content is appreciated.”
Professor awarded $7.3 million grant to examine community health care reform Dennis Scanlon, professor of health policy and administration, has been awarded a $7.3 million renewal grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). The funding will enable Scanlon and his colleagues to continue their work to evaluate a RWJF national initiative called Aligning Forces for Quality (AF4Q). The program aims to improve health care quality by helping stakeholders—patients, physicians, employers, insurers, and others—to work together to redesign communities’ health systems to better serve patients.
Supporting the Department Gifts to the department help students pursue a high-quality education or help faculty members conduct cuttingedge research. For more information regarding philanthropic opportunities within the Department of Health Policy and Administration, please contact: Kathleen Rider Director of Development 814-863-4157 email@example.com
Department of Health Policy and Administration The Pennsylvania State University 604 Ford Building University Park, PA 16802
2014 Calendar of Events
The American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) 2014 Congress on Healthcare Leadership, Hyatt Regency, Chicago, IL
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Winter 2014 Newsletter for the Department of Health Policy and Administration, college of Health and Human Development.