Earlier this year, the Master of Health Administration program at the Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI implemented a new recruitment process for prospective MHA students.
The process consists of an on-campus interview day with eligible applicants on an invite-only basis. Sessions begin each January and are held monthly until the class is filled.
“The goal is to first screen candidates, but it also serves as a marketing tool for the school,” said Ann Johnston, MHA program director at the Fairbanks School of Public Health.
The multifaceted process helps the school find more competitive students for its prestigious program, and allows applicants to meet and interview with faculty, MHA alumni, and student ambassadors. This year marks the highest percentage in decades of accepted offers, with 84 percent of enrollment offers being accepted.
“Our student ambassadors call applicants prior to interview day to give them details about the location and expectations of the interview,” Johnston said. “They build a rapport with the applicants before they step foot in our school.”
Advocates for the program, the student ambassadors are current MHA students who give applicants a first-hand look at life in the program.
“We help potential students learn about the program and the city of Indianapolis,” said Kelcie Meier, a student ambassador and current student of the MHA program. Originally from Iowa, Meier feels that her cohort bolsters her knowledge of Indianapolis when speaking to applicants, but says she “can speak to most aspects of the program.”
Upon arriving for the interview, student ambassadors greet the applicants and assist with grabbing coffee or water – small gestures that go far.
“I really love the new process,” Meier said. “I think it calms the nerves of the potential students because they are able to meet current classmates and see how we are normal students just like them.”
With the help of Nir Menachemi, professor and chair of the Health Policy and Management Department, Johnston begins the recruitment process with an introduction of the program.
“We explain why a student should choose the Fairbanks School of Public Health and why it’s a great time to pursue this degree,” Johnston said.
Following the introduction, applicants interview individually with one faculty member and one MHA program alum and have an opportunity to ask questions.
Juan Guzman, an MHA alumnus who helped interview applicants in the new process, said it was a great opportunity to interview students and truly take a deeper dive into explaining, ‘Why healthcare administration?’
“I had one candidate state that he was impressed by the faculty’s CVs and the experience as healthcare administrators they brought to the classroom,” Guzman said.
Once applicants have a chance to meet with the recruitment team, a thorough tour of the campus and lunch is provided. Following lunch, Johnston wraps up the day with a short exit interview.
After hearing about the program at a graduate fair, Michaela Davis applied, interviewed and accepted the offer to attend the MHA program at the Fairbanks School of Public Health. Though she admits being nervous, she said the recruitment process made a lasting impression.
"I felt that they truly cared about what I had to say and were already genuinely interested in my success," Davis said. "They made me feel like that was where I was supposed to be."