Mason Master of Health Administration Students Earn First Place in Second Annual Penn State Health Administration Case Competition

Mason Master’s in Health Care Administration Students Earn First Place in Second Annual Penn State Health Administration Case Competition

On October 31, 2020, students from the Department of Health Administration and Policy (HAP) Master of Health Administration (MHA) program participated in a National Case Study Competition hosted by Pennsylvania State University in partnership with Geisinger Health System. More than twenty-two universities and one hundred and fifty health care management students participated.

HAP sponsored two MHA program teams comprised of three students each.  One team represented first-year students pursuing the MHA through the on-campus pathway, the second team was comprised of second-year students from the online pathway. The competition was held virtually due to COVID-19.

“HAP supports team-based case competitions as a venue for students to hone their critical thinking skills while demonstrating creativity and teamwork to solve complex problems.  Students tell us the experience of the intense work with teammates and faculty mentors is nothing short of transformational,” said Dr. P.J. Maddox, Chair of the Department of Health Administration and Policy.

About the Challenge

Participating teams had less than 24 hours to develop a solution to address the issues presented in the case, which focused on challenges associated with health equity, Medicaid, and telehealth.  The rules required each team work independently, without assistance from faculty coaches, to develop a recommended intervention to make health care more accessible to underrepresented populations. Groups participated in two rounds of live presentations the following day.

The panel of judges comprised of fifteen leading health care professionals representing sectors such as consulting, large health systems, pharmaceutical, insurance, physician practice management, government, and leaders from the Association of University Programs in Health Administration (AUPHA) and Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME). The judges evaluated each presentation for feasibility and relevance for adoption.   

About the Winning Team

The HAP Online Team (Yasmin Artis, Mikkie Chu, and Michelle Henton) earned first place in the Online Category, from a field of twelve teams.  In addition, Michelle Henton received the prestigious award for “Best Presence Among Individual Competitors” Award.

The competition proved to be exceptionally challenging, as the case study reflected the complexities of the current environment in healthcare. HAP professor and online team coach Prof. Miriam Markowitz describes the myriad of skills required to navigate this type of competition, “Engaging in a competitive case competition is extremely demanding. It requires strong technical skills, health sector knowledge and the best soft skills a professional can develop. Superb critical thinking is required to create a compelling narrative and strategically viable solution set.”   

The winning team attributed their success to the competency-based courses in the MHA program and its emphasis on mastery of critical-thinking skills along with teamwork and communication skills.  “It is my strong belief, that upon completion of the program, our graduates have the requisite analytical skills and emotional intelligence needed to be a successful leader within any sector of healthcare. We encourage our students to become innovative and ethical leaders,” said Denise Osborn-Harrison, professor and HAP Online MHA Coordinator and coach of the winning team. 

During a post-competition debrief, both MHA teams expressed pride in their teamwork and camaraderie and shared how professionally satisfying it was to participate in a difficult challenge like the case competition.  They expect to remain supportive colleagues for life.

The case study from this competition illustrates the contribution of health care management students in developing evidence-based interventions to improve public health. This experience taught our students how they can lead efforts to improve health outcomes on a population level. 

“It takes courage to step up to the challenges associated with participating in national case studies. I see our student participants as future leaders that will make a huge difference in healthcare. We are very proud of both Mason teams,” said Dr. Brenda Helen Sheingold, HAP professor and MHA Program Director.

Student Perspectives

“I hope that the leadership and the supportive collaboration demonstrated by our team inspires other women to dare to try, persevere, succeed, and empower others to do the same.” ~Michelle Henton, Online MHA student and case champion.

“One of the keys to our success was our empathy and our strong support for one another.  GMU’s rigorous curriculum and our advisor’s support prepared us to become exceptional future healthcare leaders.” ~ Mikkie Chu, Online MHA student and case champion

“Our faculty coaches have challenged us to take risks, work hard, and empower other young women along the way to do the same.” ~ Yasmin Artis, Online MHA student and case champion

To learn more about the competition: