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Responding to the need for qualified healthcare managers both in Wisconsin and nationally, Lakeland College has created a unique healthcare management degree that has debuted this summer. Lakeland's bachelor's degree in healthcare management, which is now available to students in the college's Kellett School of Adult Education, provides a management emphasis for students who come to Lakeland having already completed an associate of arts degree in a healthcare-related field at a two-year college or technical school.
The healthcare management degree is available at any of Lakeland's seven Kellett Centers in Wisconsin, online or through Lakeland's unique BlendEd® format. It is designed to provide employers with a new crop of qualified healthcare managers, as well as provide additional education for health care workers who aspire to be supervisors or managers. For more information, including a course listing, go to lakeland.edu/healthcare.
"Healthcare is universally considered an area of increased growth and complexity, with tremendous potential for change over the coming decades," said Lakeland president Stephen Gould. "This growth and development will increase the need for skilled healthcare practitioners, including managers at all levels. National and statewide government projections, along with interviews we conducted with regional employers, support the need to provide specialized administration education to healthcare managers."
Lakeland's program responds directly to employer feedback requesting education that builds upon technical expertise in healthcare fields earned through specialized two-year programs and work experience. The program also provides a new educational opportunity statewide for health care professionals interested in advancing to a management position.
As of 2006, healthcare was the largest industry in the U.S., providing approximately 14 million jobs. Healthcare also contains seven of the 20 fastest growing occupations in the U.S. and will create three million new jobs between 2006 and 2016—more than any other industry.State of Wisconsin projections mirror national projections. According to the Office of Economic Advisors, Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, the broad category of "education and health services" (which includes nurses and other practitioners) will lead job growth in Wisconsin from 2004-2014. The specific occupational category of "Medical and Health Services Managers" will provide an estimated average of 200 job openings annually, among the highest for jobs requiring at least a bachelor's degree.
Professionals in the healthcare industry said Lakeland's program responds both to their needs as employers and to the educational needs of healthcare industry workers looking to expand their skill set. Dan Bonk, Aurora Health Care's executive vice president for the Central Region, said Lakeland's new program offers a variety of benefits to the healthcare industry."This program provides a formal, structured opportunity for outstanding clinicians to learn management and leadership skills from a quality college that is local," said Bonk, who was among the healthcare professionals that provided guidance to Lakeland during formation of the program."Often, employees that desire this type of program must travel or take classes intermittently to get their degrees."
Paula Pritzl, employment manager at Marshfield Clinic, said Lakeland's program is the logical next step for healthcare employees who already possess a strong set of technical skills, but need additional education to progress in the industry. "There are people working in healthcare that are so specialized and so focused that in order for them to move into a team leader, supervisor or management role, it will require a bachelor's degree," Pritzl said. "I think Lakeland's degree has captured individuals that are sort of stuck. They have the technical skills, but they don't have the business management part to lead a department.
"Once they acquire the skills to move into a supervisory position and manage people for a job they have already performed, it's a win-win. The supervisor knows the job, and they can train based on their own experience, which gives them the skills to move up in the organization."
Terri Newmier, recruitment manager at Marshfield Clinic, said finding qualified candidates with the total package of skills needed for managerial positions can be challenging."We may have excellent employees or candidates with technical skills, but they are lacking in business skills that address the needs we have in those areas," Newmier said. "We might have great candidates with business administration or marketing degrees, but they lack interaction on the provider side. This offers the best of both worlds. Newmier said for many healthcare industry professionals, returning to school to earn the education needed to become a doctor or nurse is not an option.
"This would allow employees in the technical areas that intermediate place to grow into their position, but not have to go to the extreme that requires years of additional schooling," Newmier said. "This is a smaller, more manageable step that can make a big difference in their career path." Technical college officials said Lakeland's program is a logical extension of existing healthcare programs at their institutions for healthcare industry workers seeking advancement.
"There are many employees in our healthcare facilities that hold associates degrees in their career specialty," said Barbara J. Dodge, dean of health and human services at Lakeshore Technical College. Many have talent and aspiration to advance their careers as supervisors, managers and leaders. Health care, like most industries, expresses the need for more employees with supervision, management and leadership skills that are not included in programs that train the technical skills needed for direct patient care. "A completion degree may begin at any point in their career and focuses on the whole organization, expanding the perspective of clinical staff and allowing them to advance within their roles and organizations."
John Clark, Mid-State Technical College president, initially approached Lakeland in the summer of 2007 to discuss the need for a healthcare management completion degree for technical college students."This degree provides technical college graduates with more diverse paths toward their educational and career goals," Clark said. "Increased access for students is top priority for both colleges. Lakeland's broad acceptance of credits from technical colleges creates enhanced and numerous transfer opportunities for MSTC graduates."I look forward to the growing and viable partnership between the two colleges to meet the educational needs of the communities we serve."
Students will complete a total of 42 credits at Lakeland to earn the healthcare management degree, including 36 required courses and six hours of electives. The core classes encompass an extensive knowledge base and make use of case analysis, critical thinking and intensive writing to prepare students for the ever-changing environment in the healthcare industry.
Bonk said Lakeland's decision to include healthcare professionals as part of the planning process has yielded a program that bridges the needs of the profession and the student."I think that the development of this program, being as inclusive as it was, with many constituencies involved with the development, will get the program off to an excellent start," Bonk said. "Continued listening will ensure success. I see this program filling the needs of students in the areas of leadership, giving a national, if not global, perspective on trends in the non clinical/technical aspects of healthcare and healthcare administration."Decision-making skills with limited resources and very high stakes is a part of leadership in today's healthcare environment, and that will be covered as well."
Lakeland's healthcare management degree will have an active Advisory Board, comprised of Kellett School administration, lead instructors and industry leaders, which will work with the Lakeland's Division of Business Administration to ensure that qualifications of instructions for the program are appropriate. Lakeland's healthcare management degree will be offered through the college's Kellett School since employers want experienced healthcare employees who hold at least a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and have a history of hands-on experience with patients within a specialized field.
Courses will be scheduled for the working student, and offered under the BlendEd® format, providing an additional layer of flexibility. Students can complete coursework in the traditional classroom or online from week to week.