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Master of Healthcare Administration Alumni Katie Roche.

Alumni Spotlight: Katie Roche, Master of Healthcare Administration ’17

  • As a project manager in Brain Tumor Service in the Department of Neurosurgery at Brigham and Women’s, Katie Roche, MHA ’17, focuses on improving the lives and experiences of patients grappling with one of the most challenging times in their lives.

    “It’s important to focus on the patient experience, especially within this patient population,” said Roche. “It’s extremely daunting to receive a diagnosis of brain tumor and be completely overwhelmed with appointments and treatment options. In this position, I want to be able to make this an effortless process for both the patients and their families.”

    To do this, Roche knew she wanted to advance her own education and chose the Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) degree program at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS). Its online format appealed to her as a working professional. It’s a decision she says has helped her grow professionally, allowing her to take advantage of a leadership position that has offered her a significant growth opportunity.

    We sat down with Roche, who is originally from Weymouth, Massachusetts, to learn more about her experience in the MHA program, hear her advice for those considering online learning, and hear her plans for the future.

    Why did you choose the MHA program at MCPHS?

    I chose the MHA program at MCPHS for a couple reasons. I was looking for a program that would give me the maximum flexibility in the shortest amount of time. In my role at Brigham and Women’s, there were days when I would have to work late, and having to be committed to a certain class time wouldn’t have been possible. The MHA program’s being online was appealing to me. I appreciated the structure of the program: two classes for each semester for two years.

    What appealed to you about the MHA degree in particular?

    I received my undergraduate degree in business administration, concentrating in management. Previous to that, I had always wanted to work within healthcare, so it was great to be able to take my skill set into working at various administrative positions in healthcare institutions. As I continued to grow in this sector, it became evident to me that my next step would be obtaining an MHA.

    How has earning this degree helped you take the next step in your career?

    Most of my career, I have worked within two major hospitals in the Boston area. As I graduated, I was offered an administrator opportunity within another department in my current institution. Within my own department, a management position was proposed that offered me a significant learning opportunity that I couldn’t turn down. Having the MHA degree has opened more opportunities for me.

    What was your favorite course in the program?

    I enjoyed learning more in depth about healthcare operations management. Looking back now, I found it helpful in transitioning into my new role where I am now more involved with operations in our department.

    In the MHA program, you covered a wide variety of topics everything from policy development to patient engagement and risk management. Which was your favorite topic?

    Patient engagement. I think within healthcare today, there is a growing trend to put more emphasis on education of patients to be more involved and knowledgeable about their own health. I would like to work toward devising methods to promote positive behavior trends in patients.

    Did the MHA program help you uncover any new passions or interests for you?

    An interest that followed me throughout the MHA program was using technology innovations to improve the patient experience. As my own department gears up to providing telemedicine options to some of our patient populations, I am excited to be involved in this venture.

    How did your professors support you? Mentor you?

    Professor Spooner was my mentor throughout my whole journey in getting my MHA. He was incredibly supportive and wants his students to succeed. His insight was extremely helpful, and it helped to apply it to the courses I was taking while also using my own work experiences.

    Would you recommend MCPHS to those considering a graduate-level degree in administration or management?

    Definitely. I have already work colleagues and others who have asked advice in evaluating the many programs available. I found the MCPHS MHA program to be one of the best programs for working individuals who can have sporadic schedules. I understand for some, an online program can seem daunting, but it’s all about time management. I feel the courses in the MHA program are relatable to working administratively in the healthcare sector.

    What’s your advice for those looking to make the most of their online learning experience?

    I would say get to know your classmates. It was great to take this journey with some of the same people throughout my classes. It’s equally unique having classmates from all over the world. I think having that experience showed how healthcare administration can be different throughout other parts of the world with my classmates’ own experiences in their careers.

    What is something you feel students should know about online learning?

    It’s a different environment from your typical classroom setup. Time management is key with an online learning experience, but I truly valued the flexibility it can offer a working professional.

    You are a project manager for Brain Tumor Service in the Department of Neurosurgery at Brigham and Women’s. Tell us about your role. What are you responsible for? What do you love about your job?

    My role as project manager for Brain Tumor Service is multifaceted. I was a resource within the department previously, and this position offers me a higher platform to work with additional members of management as well as the neurosurgeons within this specialty. Within this role, I provide project management, analytic support, and team facilitation to operations and service improvement for Neurosurgical Tumor Service. As the incumbent to this position, I also serve as an internal consultant to department leadership as well as senior administrators and clinicians for selecting, managing, and evaluating the outcomes of strategic process improvement projects. I currently oversee six practices and am responsible for supervising six full-time employees.

    How did earning your MHA empower you to continue to advance in your career?

    It makes me credible in some ways. I previously have tended to believe experience should be sustainable throughout my career path. As I’ve gown and matured over the years, I have seen that education is just as important. I’ve had 15 years between my undergrad and graduate degrees. It was daunting to go back to school, and it didn’t help that I was never really good in a school environment. However, I did it and did it in less than two years with a GPA I never in a million years thought I could have ever obtained. So in some ways, it was my experience that pushed me to finish up my education.

    What are your career aspirations? What are your goals for the next five years?

    I’m uniquely in a position where my career in healthcare administration feels consistent. I am finding myself in a position that offers me opportunity to learn and grow. Within the next five years, I hope to grow and sustain Brain Tumor Service. I hope to be a mentor to my colleagues and support our faculty in this role.

    In your opinion, what makes for an effective leader?

    Communication is extremely important to being an effective leader. Fundamentally, it’s imperative to be able to communicate with your colleagues and staff. As such, it’s just as important to be able to listen. That combination provides the foundation to be an effective leader.

    What’s one of your favorite #MCPHSmoments?

    An MCPHS moment that culminated this whole journey and experience for me in earning my MHA was graduation. It was truly amazing to meet some of my classmates as well as professors who could attend graduation and finally connect on a face-to-face platform considering this was completed online. Throughout the program, you do form kinships with other students, and I found that moment truly exciting.

    The part-time Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) program at MCPHS is offered entirely online, giving you the flexibility to continue to work, and can be