Several Master of Health Administration students at the IU Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health participated in University of Alabama at Birmingham’s 12th Annual Health Administration Case Competition this month. This national competition is designed to be a capstone experience for graduate students from CAHME-accredited programs and provides them with the opportunity to put what they have learned into practice.
“The teams are presented with a real-life, current situation at a hospital or health system and expected to work with our team to develop a solution to the problem using only what we have learned in classes and publicly available sources,” said MHA student and UAB Case Competition team member, Samantha Pendleton.
The case Samantha and her team were tasked with not only addressed an actual issue for a hospital system (the sponsor organization), but the case also had to be resolved using only the resources the hospital currently has.
“From my perspective, it was an opportunity to work through a complex issue I may actually face after graduation,” said MHA student and UAB Case Competition team member, Matt Relano. When asked why he decided to participate, Matt’s response was simple, “for the challenge.”
And this competition is, indeed, a challenge. The Fairbanks School of Public Health team, along with students across the United States, traveled to Birmingham, Alabama, to present their recommendations before a national panel of judges.
“The first few meetings we were pretty overwhelmed with information, but I think we got to a place where we felt comfortable with our proposed solutions,” said Samantha. “We spent some time talking about our strengths and weaknesses, and it was interesting how those came into play in how we utilized each other to come up with the best solution.”
Matt agreed, saying he knew it would be a challenge, but the issues their team was trying to solve for were much harder than he had expected.
“In order to prepare for the case competition, we did a lot of research,” said third team member and MHA student, Michaela Davis. “I was eager to present our recommendations and think our team prepared well.”
In addition to research and late nights of preparation, the team practiced their presentation in front of a crowd several times leading up to the competition. At the final ceremony, the first, second, and third place case competition winners received cash awards. While the Fairbanks team did not place this year, they are glad for the experience. Many of the students who have competed in the past have used solutions their teams created at healthcare organizations they now work in, making this experience valuable in numerous ways.
“Even though it was a lot of work and stressful at times, I do think it was an invaluable experience,” Samantha said. Her teammates agreed, adding that they have enjoyed building relationships with others in the program, representing their school, and expanding their knowledge of rural health systems and healthcare in the United States.
MHA student Ellie Young said she’s enjoyed learning with the team as well. As a team observer, Ellie was expected to watch this year’s team to learn and prepare to compete next year. “I have really tried to learn from the leadership style and thought process of the second-year students to prepare for next year's case,” Ellie said. “I have really enjoyed the dialogue the team has had. There have been some excellent sharing of ideas and constructive conversations that have really helped everyone find clarity and direction.”
The Fairbanks School of Public Health team would like to congratulate the University of Minnesota MHA Program on winning this year’s competition, as well as Rush University and Johns Hopkins University for placing.