First class graduates with new health care degree

Rebecca Cross, Copy Editor

Twenty-seven healthcare administration students moved their tassels to the left during December’s commencement, making them the first to graduate from FMU with this degree.

According to Dr. Ruth Wittmann-Price, dean of FMU’s School of Health Sciences, the future looks promising for these students and the degree program.

“Health care in the area employs a large number of people, so the job market is excellent,” Wittmann-Price said. “The program is very successful, and it is felt that it will continue well into the future.”

Wittmann-Price said that some students desire to work in the health care field but may not want to be practitioners. A degree in healthcare administration gives them this opportunity.

Breanna Robertson, a recent alumna with a healthcare administration degree, claimed this reasoning as her story. Previously pursuing a nursing degree, Robertson changed her major to healthcare administration when the degree became available at FMU in January 2016.

“I always wanted to do administration, but nursing was the only option until healthcare administration came about,” Robertson said. “That’s what I was looking for. I’ve always wanted to work with people, and healthcare administration is where I shine. It fits my personality.”

Because the healthcare administration degree includes courses in psychology, nursing, sociology, business and political science, it provides a broad foundation for students desiring to go into a managerial role in health care.

“FMU has given me a well-rounded foundation to give me a specialty in anything I choose,” Robertson said. “Also, the healthcare administration program definitely sets you up for continuing education.”

Classes in the healthcare administration program are offered online.

According to Wittmann-Price, providing an online degree is beneficial for working students. She said that many health care professionals with an associate degree are now seeking a bachelor’s degree. Also, she said that taking online courses helps prepare students desiring to enter a graduate program because many of those programs are fully online.

Robertson said that she thinks taking online classes has prepared her for one day pursuing a Master of Business Administration, and she is looking at online programs.

“You have to be your own boss when you are taking online courses,” Robertson said. “Your professors will be there for you, but they’re not going to hold your hand.”

Because the classes were online, Robertson was able to work third shift as a medication technician at Brookdale Florence Senior Living while going to school.

Robertson said that getting experience in addition to a diploma is key, especially for those desiring to pursue careers in healthcare administration. With an online option at FMU, getting experience is more feasible for students.

After graduation, Robertson began working as a unit manager for Waffle House Corporation. She said that her degree prepared her for the job because she took classes in finance and economics at FMU, two subjects that she uses regularly on the job. Robertson manages several Waffle Houses in her district and oversees everything from scheduling to food costs to signing employees up for insurance policies.

FMU is tracking the employment of the first class of healthcare administration graduates.