Health systems management program mirrored real life for graduate student

Health systems management program mirrored real life for graduate student

Tia Shipman had an uncanny experience while working on her master’s degree in RIT’s health systems management program when her course work predicted her real-life work experience.

“At one point what I was learning directly aligned with what I was doing at work and transitions that were happening there,” said Shipman, a contract administrator in the purchasing and procurement department at Rochester Regional Health (RRH).

The class Health Systems Quality and Organizational Learning resonated with Shipman. It outlined the boundary-setting process that enables governance committees to function, clarifying roles and expectations among leaders across an organization. Prior understanding, she learned, helps the committee funnel energy toward a common vision, versus jockeying for individual departmental priorities. Shipman realized the course material was like a script for an actual situation at work that involved multiple departments within Rochester Regional Health.

Her class filled in the back story to her supervisor’s directives and helped Shipman see the process of documenting departmental systems and policies to define their purview and set expectations before joining a new leadership committee.

“Learning about that in the program while literally doing it in real life was so weird,” Shipman said. “It really helped reinforce the concepts and helped me understand the importance of what I was doing and learning.”

Shipman earned her master’s degree in health systems management while working full time. She finished her coursework in July.

The Health Systems Quality and Organization Learning class gave her a clear direction in a health care field crowded with possibilities.

“It made me understand, or solidified, what I enjoy about health care, which is compliance and regulation adherence, but also creating a health system that not only adheres to government regulations but seeks to exceed them when it comes to patient care, quality of care, and cost savings.”

Shipman inquired about RIT’s hybrid graduate program at the suggestion of her supervisor and mentor at RRH. The flexible program accommodated Shipman’s fast-paced day job and the culminating travel class—a case study of Sweden’s health system—compelled her to enroll.

The newly revamped health systems management program held its first immersive, in-person class on the RIT campus in January 2020. It was desiged as the first of three in-person immersion classes—two at RIT and one study abroad course.

The COVID-19 pandemic altered the in person-component of the curriculum and the second immersion class and the study abroad trip moved to Zoom. The hybridized program temporarily reverted to online delivery in keeping with RIT’s adherence to public health protocols, and along with her classmates, Shipman was disappointed, but undeterred.

“I still got a lot out of it,” she said. “I didn’t feel that I lost any of the value of the program online versus in person. I feel as though I have built my network even within my own health system a little bit more from this program.”

For Shipman, the health systems management program’s overarching emphasis on group work made it an invaluable experience with built-in networking opportunities with fellow students and faculty who work in the field.

“My job is really all group work,” Shipman said. “It’s a lot of exchanging information and working with people remotely. I was already used to connecting with people and building relationships while never having had a phone call or seeing what they look like. This program mirrored what working in healthcare is actually like.”

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