April 12, 2017 | Erin Bluvas, firstname.lastname@example.org
Megan Le’s advice for current and future public health students? Network, gain professional experience, and do what you love. The May graduate of Health Services Policy and Management’s (HSPM) Master of Health Administration (MHA) program can trace all of her major educational and career decisions to the experience she has gained in the field and the networking she has done with faculty, professionals, and other students. Loving what she does is what is what propels her forward, and next up is an Administrative Fellowship at Duke University Hospital.
After growing up outside of Atlanta, Le served as an ambassador for the College of Public Health at the University of Georgia where she was earning a bachelor’s degree in health promotion and behavior. While attending a panel discussion led by public health graduate students during her senior year, Le met Arnold School alumnus Zach King who shared his positive experiences with UofSC’s faculty, campus, and internships and encouraged Le to look into the Arnold School’s graduate programs.
When it got to the point where Le was debating between pursuing an MHA or Master of Public Health (MPH) program, she reached out to a former internship supervisor for advice. The supervisor connected Le with another former intern, Jenna Rogers, who was currently pursuing an MHA degree from the Arnold School.
“I reached out to Jenna who really sold me on the MHA program,” says Le. “We had both studied health promotion and behavior in the same program, which did not have any business management or financial classes. Based on the curriculum, I knew the MHA program would expose me to more financial courses and was more hospital focused.”
Rogers also emphasized the value of HSPM’s earn-while-you-learn component, a program that matches students with graduate assistantships at health organizations. The assistantships provide in-state tuition and a stipend while students engage in professional learning and contribute to the sponsoring organization in meaningful ways.
Le’s own experience with the program did not disappoint. During her first year in the MHA program, Le served as a graduate assistant in the Population Health Department of Providence Health and was able to gain both professional experience and find a mentor. “Carmen Wilson’s leadership was incredible—talk about a group that worked beautifully as a team,” Le says of the director and department. “They introduced to me population health management, taught me to always come with a plan—not just an idea, and continuously remind me to do the right thing by putting our patients, communities, and co-workers at the forefront of our work.”
Her positive experiences with the earn-while-your-learn program continued during the second year of her MHA program when Le worked as a graduate assistant for the Office of Community Health at Palmetto Health. “Our director, Stacey McPhail, and the rest of the team pulled me into challenging projects that have helped me grow as a person and a professional, created an environment that allows me to thrive in creativity, and provided endless encouragement and support throughout the fellowship application and interview process and my residency project,” says Le.
Angel Bourdon, Le’s supervisor at Palmetto Health, became another influential mentor. “Angel always challenges me to think outside the box and asks, ‘Why… How… What if… What would you do differently?’” explains Le. “Through Angel’s leadership and coaching, the most important thing I have learned from her is that the work we do is greater than ourselves.”
During her program, she also served as Secretary for USC’s Healthcare Executive Student Association and participated in the National Association of Health Services Executives 2016 Everett V. Fox Student Case Competition. For the case competition, Le and her team were tasked with developing a model that addressed mental health in the San Diego area, and they spent countless hours researching, strategizing, and rehearsing for the competition.
Le’s professional experiences and the connections she made with these mentors have helped shape her passion for population health management. She officially begins her career in this field with a two-year Administrative Fellowship at Duke University Hospital that begins this summer. During the first year, Le will follow a rotation-based structure and participate in special projects. The second year provides an opportunity to focus on one clinical or support service area.
By connecting with current fellows and researching her options, Le determined that this fellowship was the perfect fit for her career aspirations. She strategically chose a program that aligned with her own goals and vision for population health and health administration.
“My passions are prevention, early intervention, and population health, specifically how community health fits into healthcare systems’ population health strategies,” says Le. “During my fellowship, I hope to work on as many population health management projects as possible. My ultimate career and life goal is to make a positive impact wherever I go, regardless of what I am doing.”