HPA Spring 2011 e-Newsletter — Student News

MHA case competitors finish among top teams in Alabama

Penn State Master of Health Administration (MHA) students finished among the top six teams in the country squaring off in February at the annual Health Administration Case Competition hosted by the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). The event attracted 29 teams of health management students.

This was Penn State’s second consecutive appearance in the finals of the case competition, one of only two universities in the nation to make a repeat visit. Penn State’s finish was top among all Big Ten programs and top among all Pennsylvania programs.

Team participants and second-year MHA students David Lutz, Caitlin Motley, and Kelsey Midgett were responsible for creating a governance structure, quality measurement system, and financial projections for the Memorial Hermann Healthcare System in Houston, Texas, which planned to create an Accountable Care Organization. First-year MHA student Shantanu Dholakia served as a team alternate participant; he will lead next year’s MHA case competition team.

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Master of Health Administration students who competed at the UAB case competition are (from left) Shantanu Dholakia (team alternate), Caitlin Motley, David Lutz, and Kelsey Midgett. The team was among the top six finishers out of the 29 schools competing in the event.

According to Midgett, “We used the model of a Physician Hospital Organization to more formally align the health system and affiliated physicians, to improve the continuum of care for Medicare patients. We suggested expanding the model across all specialty physicians and third party payers of a period of time, also keeping a close eye on the changing legislation regarding ACOs.”

Judges lauded the Penn State team members during the first round of competition for their “good team dynamics, oral presentation skills, and solid overall recommendation,” Midgett explained, adding, “We learned a lot from preparing the case. This is information that will be very applicable to projects we will work on when we enter the workforce after graduation.”

The MHA team is grateful for the help from both faculty and alumni, including Dr. Deirdre McCaughey, Mr. Richard Shurgalla (who accompanied the team to Birmingham), Mr. Joe Dionisio, and Mr. Tom Charles. Midgett says, “We are also very thankful to external professionals, including some alumni who took the time to explain everything they knew about the new ACO model and current legislation regarding the topic. Our success wouldn’t have been possible without their knowledge and insight on the topic.” Alumni who lent a helping hand to the team included Laura Schuh '09 MHA and Dominique LaRochelle '10 MHA.

Team Captain David Lutz was also grateful of HPA faculty guidance: “Working with faculty—namely our chief advisors, Dr. McCaughey, Mr. Shurgalla, and Mr. Dionisio, was a great experience as well. They made sure that we stayed on track, asked helpful questions that directed our efforts toward filling in gaps in strategy, and generally supported our efforts throughout the process.”

Ph.D. students grateful for conference opportunity

Katelyn Holmes and Nengliang Yao, two Health Policy and Administration Ph.D. candidates, recently participated in the Cancer Health Disparities conference organized by American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) in Miami. Holmes and Yao’s attendance was supported through a training grant from The Komen Foundation; principal investigators of the grant include Dr. Marianne Hillemeier, associate professor and Dr. Roger Anderson, professor of public health sciences at Penn State College of Medicine.

The conference attracts cancer scholars from multi-disciplines, such as medicine, nursing, biology, epidemiology, sociology, and health services research. At the conference,Yao presented a poster on his research about breast cancer mortality from 1969-2007 among Appalachian white women. This study earned Yao the scholar-in-training award from the AACR. He said that participants at the conference provided him with constructive feedback to improve his study.

For Holmes, the conference allowed her to learn cancer care from a global perspective. Both Holmes and Yao were able to meet other cancer researchers and lay groundwork for possible future collaborations.

HPA organizations join forces for THON

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HPA student and THON Dancer Nicole Wells (left) takes time to pose with HPA THON family member Emily Snyder.

This year, the HPA Club and Future Health Care Executives Club Thon committees worked together to raise money for THON. Efforts included canning, fundraising, and sending THONvelopes, and in the end, the HPA groups raised more than $8,000 this year.

The two clubs partnered their efforts for a special girl, Emily Snyder. Emily was diagnosed with cancer late in the summer of 2007 and has been in remission for three years now. Emily and her family, Kevin Snyder and Jennifer Snyder, are part of the Four Diamonds Fund, which is the recipient of THON funds.

HPA dancers Caitlin Singer and Nicole Wells enjoyed spending time with the family at THON and playing with Emily and her younger brother Nicolas. Emily is two years cancer free and full of energy.

Overall this year, the 46-hour dance marathon exceeded all expectations and raised a record $9,563,016.09 for the Four Diamonds Fund, topping last year's record $7.8 million.

Four earn HPA Department scholarships

Four Health Policy and Administration students have been awarded scholarships through the HPA Department and College of Health and Human Development.

The Health Executives Forum Annual Scholarship is awarded to full-time juniors or seniors currently enrolled in the Department of Health Policy and Administration in the College of Health and Human Development. Students must demonstrate leadership qualities in the healthcare field as well as financial need. The Central Pennsylvania Health Executive Forum provides funding for this scholarship. The winners were:

The Healthcare Executives Forum (HEF) Annual Scholarship

The AUPHA/Foster G. McGaw Scholarship is provided to full-time undergraduate students newly enrolled in the Department of Health Policy and Administration who demonstrate outstanding academic achievement, involvement in professional and service activities, and financial need. The Association of University Programs in Health Administration provides funding for this scholarship. The winners were:

The AUPHA/Foster G. McGaw Scholarship

HealthWorks a rewarding experience for HPA students

HealthWorks is a Peer Education Outreach Program at Penn State that is a part of the Health Promotion and Wellness department at University Health Services on campus. About 20 students are selected for the program each fall.

HPA students Tiana Lukas and Katie Krauss are current HealthWorks participants. Both Lukas and Krauss serve as peer educators. Lukas explains, “As peer educators, we create and implement programs for Penn State students on areas of health importance such as nutrition, sexual health, Spring Break safety, Green Health, and physical activity.” This will be Lukas's third semester volunteering with HealthWorks and she serves as a co-team lead with Krauss, who is volunteering her first semester with HealthWorks.

Among the most beneficial HealthWorks programs, according to Lukas, is the program’s "Safer Sex Parties." “What is different about our ‘parties’ is that we provide a lot of good information and statistics, such as one in four college students has an STI at any given time, but we don't just stand and lecture for an hour to our audience,” Lukas explained.

Audience evaluation forms have indicated that the interactive activities are well received by student audiences. One activity example is when peer educators explain that STIs and how easily it is to contract them (exchange of bodily fluids, skin to skin contact, etc.). “We discuss how wearing a condom greatly reduces the chances of STI transmission, but most people know that and would find this information boring. So to show how easy it is for an STI to pass through a sexual network, we have a game that we call ‘Sex Web,’” she explains.

In this activity, everyone in the audience receives a card and is asked to write four names of people in the room on their card. One person is selected to hypothetically have an STI and that person is asked to read the four names on his or her card. Those four people are called to stand up and read the four names on their cards, and so on. Usually, almost the entire room ends up standing and it shows how easy it is for one person to have an STI and to pass it on to others, and it reinforces the information.

Reflecting on her work, Lukas said, “It's such a great feeling to be presenting and when there are five hands raised in the air and people want to ask questions, I know I did my job of making them feel comfortable in that environment to talk about sex. I think as a peer educator during these parties, students look to me as a resource. We aren't there to lecture or act like someone's mom and tell him or her not to have sex; we are just providing the tools in order to make safe decisions, and hopefully they learned at least one new thing during the program.”

She added that she too has grown personally and professional because of her work with HealthWorks. “I never would have thought coming into college that I would be in front of a group of 30 or so students talking about chlamydia and female condoms, but this experience has been so rewarding and has helped me feel comfortable talking in front of a group that I am so glad I became involved with HealthWorks.”

HPA senior earns prestigious ACHE award

Caitlin Grim, senior, has been honored as a 2010 recipient of the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) Early Career Healthcare Executive Regent’s Award.

The Early Career Healthcare Executive Regent’s Award recognizes ACHE affiliates who have significantly contributed toward the advancement of health care management excellence and the achievement of the goals of ACHE. Grim was nominated by the executive board of the Healthcare Executive Forum (HEF) of Central PA—the central Pennsylvania chapter of the ACHE. The vote was unanimous. This award recognizes Grim’s outstanding service in the chapter as well as her leadership and innovation in her academic career and internship, a requirement for HPA students.

Grim serves as vice president of Penn State’s Future Health Care Executives. "I am very humbled and grateful to be the recipient of this prestigious award," Grim says, explaining that when she heard her name being announced as the recipient, she was “so surprised. I was sure they were talking about someone else in the room.”

Grim also serves as the HPA Club’s THON chair and a member of Penn State’s Blue and White Society. The York native plans to pursue a Master of Health Administration degree after she graduates in May 2011.

“Cait has been a huge asset to our chapter, bringing fresh ideas and leadership. She has done an outstanding job engaging the HPA students around the vision of the Central PA HEF. Her enthusiasm and skills provide a new perspective to achieve our goal of being the premier professional organization for healthcare executives,” says Adam Hawk, Central PA HEF president.

ACHE affiliates nominated for the award are evaluated on leadership ability, innovative and creative management, executive capability in developing their own organization, and promoting its growth and stature in the community, participation in local, state, or provincial hospital and health association activities, participation in civic/community activities and projects, and participation in ACHE activities and interest in assisting ACHE in achieving its objectives.

The American College of Healthcare Executives is an international professional society of 30,000 health care executives who lead the nation’s hospitals, health care systems, and other health care organizations. ACHE is known for its credentialing and educational programs and its annual Congress on Healthcare Leadership, which draws more than 4,000 participants each year.

MHA team reaches semi-finals at competition

A team of four Master of Health Administration (MHA) students was among the semi-finalist teams competing in mid-October at the fifteenth-annual Everett V. Fox Student Case Competition in Memphis, Tennessee. The competition was sponsored by the National Association of Health Services Executives (NAHSE).

Schaeffer Charles, Gabriel Oshode, Latoya Tatum, and Joe Hwang (team alternate) competed at the event. Charles also competed in 2009 and served as this year’s team captain.

Charles says the case competition offered him and his teammates many rewards: “It provided us the opportunity to represent Penn State University (which we are very proud of); further develop our core leadership skills, including analytical thinking, financial skills, and self-confidence; and network with a wide range of health care professionals.”

He adds, “Being on the case team was a valuable lesson that allowed us to apply the knowledge that was acquired in the classroom to real-life situations. With help from the faculty and MHA alumni, we have learned a tremendous amount and believe that we have developed a skill that we can take with us to our next job.”

Faculty advisers include Dr. Deirdre McCaughey, Joe Dionisio, Richard Shurgalla, and Dr. Jonathan Clark. Dionisio and Shurgalla accompanied the team to Memphis.

Approximately 25 teams from across the United States competed, representing various graduate programs in health care administration. Students received their case on September 17, with approximately three weeks to prepare for the competition. Cases are derived from problems facing real health care organizations and are specifically based on circumstances at a particular organization.

Students are required to analyze and prepare recommendations, which require a thorough financial and SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis, problem recognition, a strategic plan, recommendations, and an execution/implementation plan to support the recommendation.

At the conference, teams present their plan in twenty minutes and answer ten minutes of questioning from a judging panel composed of health care leaders, industry experts, academics, and corporate sponsors.

This year, the Penn State MHA team responded to a request-for-proposals for a full-service inpatient health care facility in east New Orleans, Louisiana. The team put together a proposal for the size, type, and location of a potential facility, and determined if they should renovate an existing facility or build a new facility. Competitors also had to determine the financial capacity to develop a facility and prepare pro formas of short- and long-term financial performance, as well as determine if the project would be in partnership with another organization.

This was a particularly difficult case given the lack of comprehensive services available to the residents of east New Orleans, the lack of infrastructure in the community, and the unique challenges resulting from Hurricane Katrina and subsequent collateral damage.

HPA student pens column for local newspaper

Veronica Ariel, an HPA student, who currently serves as a representative on The Council of Lionhearts, recently authored a guest column in The Centre Daily Times, Centre County’s daily newspaper.

Ariel also represents Students Engaging Students (SES) where she serves as the Executive Director. Each organization represented on the Council was given a chance to spotlight its service learning efforts in a special series. “I was pleased to see SES garner attention in the local paper. Being featured in the media was a goal for my term as executive director; I was thrilled to see the article extend our reach as an organization,” Ariel said.

Students Engaging Students is a service and leadership organization dedicated to enriching the campus and State College communities. SES members operate a service learning program called “Into The Streets,” in which participants lead projects to various non-profit community agencies four to six times per month. These projects are available to all students through Penn State’s volunteer website. SES also provides service consultations to students looking for service opportunities. And finally, the organization offers services to student organizations such as personalized workshops and retreats to build cohesiveness and leadership skills.

“Since arriving at Penn State, I have become passionate about service learning – educating, serving a need, and reflecting on the service – and I enjoy helping others have meaningful service experiences,” Ariel added. The Centre Daily Times service learning features allow the representatives to showcase the truly inspiring projects Penn State students undertake each day.