Jason Lasuzzo was on track to spend his career in academia before a chance meeting led him to pursue healthcare management.
While in school for his PhD in exercise physiology, Dr. Lasuzzo signed up for a 5K race in Northport, Alabama, where he met physician Dr. Blane Schilling.
"Dr. Schilling invited me to go running with him a couple of times after that," said Dr. Lasuzzo. "Then, he asked if I would be willing to take over a program at the hospital where he worked as the medical director while I was completing my Ph.D. So, I did."
Today, Dr. Lasuzzo serves as a department manager within the UNC Health Care System at Pardee Hospital in Hendersonville, North Carolina, where he's responsible for programs within the cardiac service line. He is also a student again, earning a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in Health Care Administration from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette's online program.
"I've wanted to go back to get an MBA for some time," he said.
However, a string of surgeries and lengthy rehabs for injuries sustained in cycling accident meant putting his MBA aspirations on hold.
"I never let go of my ultimate goal to have a role in senior management," he said. "After researching the online program at UL Lafayette, I felt it would be a great fit and help put my career goals within reach."
Dr. Lasuzzo, who grew up near New Orleans on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain, had a few good reasons to enroll at UL Lafayette.
"Obtaining a degree from a reputable university in my home state that offered an AACSB-accredited program, such as UL Lafayette, was the right move. It has allowed me to pursue a quality education from a university to which I felt very connected, including its faculty, students and alumni," Dr. Lasuzzo said.
"Though I was accepted to other highly regarded universities, I continued to research the University of Louisiana at Lafayette's online MBA. After considering multiple factors, including the program's reputation, flexibility and cost, I knew it was the right fit for me."
In addition, earning an MBA from UL Lafayette gave Dr. Lasuzzo the chance to feel connected to south Louisiana's Cajun culture.
A lifelong athlete, Dr. Lasuzzo competed at the University of Louisiana Monroe, then Northeast Louisiana University, where he earned a bachelor's degree and a master's degree. He ended his athletic career in order to focus on academics.
From there, he moved on to the University of Alabama, where he graduated with a Ph.D. in exercise physiology with a minor in human physiology and statistics. He served as a graduate teaching assistant for three years before joining Dr. Schilling, a fellow Northeast Louisiana graduate, at Pickens County Medical Center, near Tuscaloosa.
"My master's degree was in clinical exercise physiology, which relates more to the cardiac perspective," he said. "Transitioning away from a career solely rooted in academia has been wonderful, as it has provided me with an opportunity to help others within our community who struggle with chronic disease by developing — then subsequently improving — services designed to increase their longevity and enhance their quality of life."
The flexibility of the fully online format in the MBA in Health Care Administration program has worked well for Dr. Lasuzzo.
"I am responsible for multiple departments here at the hospital," he said. "With the demands on my time, the ability not only to access lectures, but also to work on assignments and take tests later in the evenings and on weekends has worked well. Though it can be challenging, the condensed 8-week terms have allowed me to complete two courses each fall and spring semester, as well as another over the summer while still being able to effectively perform my duties at work.
"I will graduate in May 2020, but now that I can look back a bit, I believe I have done quite well and am very pleased with the way this schedule has allowed me to manage my time and responsibilities."
He credits the curriculum with adding useful insights to business knowledge he has gained from his hands-on experience in the field.
"It's not that the material has been completely new to me. Throughout my career I have had to apply many of the concepts and principles to the day-to-day management of the programs for which I have been responsible," he said. "However, I believe the coursework has given me the tools to be a successful leader and a valuable asset to our organization and will inevitably serve me well throughout my career."
Based on his experience, Dr. Lasuzzo offers these keys to success in earning a graduate degree online: a support system, hard work, and perseverance.
"My wife, Denise, has been especially supportive, as have my friends and the leadership at the health system where I work," he said. "Otherwise, my immediate family does not yet know about it, as I wanted to surprise them when I graduate."
Now that Dr. Lasuzzo is on the home stretch, he feels it's almost time to finally tell his family about his MBA.
"After you complete the first course, you understand there is still quite a bit of hard work and sacrifice that has to happen before you get to the point of graduating. However, you also realize that you have invested both time and money and are therefore committed to finishing the program and realizing the benefits the degree will provide in helping you achieve your career goals."
Dr. Lasuzzo believes keeping expectations in check is important during and beyond any graduate degree program.
"I don't believe that the degree in and of itself will enable you to secure the position you are aiming to attain; however, I do believe that the credential, combined with experience, a strong work ethic, proven success, and the ability to effectively communicate with others will put you in a better position to achieve your goals."
Completing the online MBA program brought added benefits Dr. Lasuzzo considers advantageous.
"In addition to learning from a tremendous faculty and being challenged by the program's rigorous curriculum, I've also had the opportunity to network with fellow students from all over the country, to accept an invitation to join the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, and to gain knowledge, and valuable insights which will certainly shape my future career. I also have learned a little bit about myself. All in all, this has been a wonderful experience."
Learn more about the UL Lafayette online MBA in Health Care Administration program.
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