Jessica Griffin thought an MBA would open the door to the next phase of her career. Instead, it made the phone ring.
Griffin was working as a part-time clinical nurse educator at Children's Hospital of New Orleans when she enrolled in the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Master of Business Administration in Health Care Administration program online. In January 2019, four months before graduation, she became full-time manager of the post-anesthesia care unit.
''I was going to continue to work in my part-time role until I graduated, but some members of leadership knew that I was pursuing this degree,'' she said. ''While sitting at my desk, I got a phone call asking if I would interview for this management position. I said, 'Yes.' Here we are.''
After graduating from the Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing online program at UL Lafayette in 2016, Griffin took a year off from school to plot her next move. She had considered doing a dual graduate degree before learning of the online MBA in Health Care Administration program.
''The MBA was the best of both worlds,'' she said. ''It gave me business, which was something that I wanted to know more about, plus the health care administration.
''I was also already familiar with the online format and comfortable with how everything worked at UL Lafayette. I knew I wouldn't have to go through a learning curve like I would with an entirely different program.''
A love of children and a desire to help people led Griffin to the nursing field. She graduated with an associate degree from the Delgado Community College School of Nursing in New Orleans in May 2007 and started her career at Children's Hospital that same year.
''There was a need for nurses and student loan reimbursement,'' she said. ''Children's Hospital of New Orleans is the regional hospital for children's healthcare. They have a lot of specialties. I knew it would provide some great opportunities.''
The flexibility of the online format allowed Griffin to seamlessly transition to a full-time managerial position while finishing the degree program. She and her husband, Chad, have twin 5-year-old sons, Cade and Cohen.
''You really have to stay on top of it — especially when you have multiple courses at once,'' she said. ''I can look at the syllabus in advance to plan out when I am going to get things done and how I can fit that into my home life with work and kids.''
Although their sons are still a long way from thinking about attending college, Griffin hopes they follow her lead when that day comes.
''It is going to be very important when they are older to show them that mom studies and does work,'' she said. ''At one point during the program, I told them, 'You know what? In 32 more days, mom will be done with school.'
''When my graduation gown came, I put it on and announced my name. They sat and clapped for me. I get them involved to let them know that education if very important in our family."
Call of Duty
The curriculum in the MBA in Health Care Administration program has been especially beneficial to Griffin in her new role.
''I can go in to my leadership meetings, see the chief financial officer put up an income statement and be able to look at that and know exactly what the pieces and parts mean,'' she said. ''It really shows how I can apply what I learned to my job. If I didn't have this education, I would just be looking at numbers and not understanding what they meant. That has been really cool.''
The required internship, HCA 595, is another element of the program Griffin has especially enjoyed.
''Right now, my internship is at work in another area with outpatient clinics,'' she said. ''It has been fascinating to see the outpatient world, since I have always been in the hospital setting. I have enjoyed getting a look into how all of that is done.''
BLAW 531: Health Care Law and MGMT 590: Policy Formulation, Strategy, and Administration are her two favorite courses in the online MBA program.
"I liked learning the ins and outs of law,'' Griffin said. ''It brought a lot to my attention I wasn't aware of previously. The strategy course gets you thinking a little bit deeper into the concepts of business. The text applies a lot of concepts you are familiar with but didn't know about the actual details.''
In May 2019, Griffin became the first person in her immediate family to earn a graduate degree. She relied heavily on the love and support of her family and friends during her time in both of the online degree programs at UL Lafayette.
''My friends think I am superhuman, managing kids, a job and a husband and school,'' she said. ''My husband has been super supportive, but I think he is glad that it is over.
''I am looking forward to free time. We are definitely going on vacation — either to Disney World or digging for dinosaur fossils in Utah."
Griffin is glad she did not enroll in a Master of Health Care Administration (MHA) program at another university along with several of her friends.
''Our curricula were very similar, but I did not want to go into that just because I had all of the support of friends and knew all of these people doing the program,'' she said. ''I decided to stand on my own and go with a completely different program."
Looking back, Griffin knows it was a smart decision — one that led to a career-changing phone call before she was finished with the program.
''Doing it at the same time, I can tell I am at a different level,'' she said. ''It has been a lot more challenging, a lot more thorough and a lot more beneficial than the MHA program.
''For someone with a healthcare background interested in learning something new, the MBA in Health Care Administration is the way to go. It allows you to tie it all together. I am very pleased.''
Learn more about the UL Lafayette MBA in Health Care Administration program online.
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