Master of Health Administration Students Compete in Semi-Final Round in National Penn State Case Competition

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Three MHA students reflect on the valuable experience of participating in the three-day competition.

Students from the Department of Health Administration and Policy’s Master of Health Administration Program advanced to the semi-final round in a national case study competition hosted by Pennsylvania State University in partnership with Geisinger Health System. They competed against students across the country during the three-day competition held from October 28 to October 21.

Headshot of Taylor Adams
Taylor Adams, MHA '23

The team—which competed in the online pathway division—consisted of Taylor Adams, Veronica Desper, and Kirstyn Nero. They were tasked with evaluating a real issue faced by a large hospital system in 2021, conducting research, and creating a 15-minute presentation of their proposed solution in only 16 hours. In addition to the presentation, the team underwent a five-minute question-and-answer period from the panel of judges. The panel included health management consultants and professors.

"What is truly remarkable is the vision our students have to see past the limitations imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic and instead focus on opportunities that challenge themselves outside of their comfort zone,” said Brenda Helen Sheingold, director for the MHA program. “They are the leader's healthcare requires in a post pandemic world."

“I wanted to challenge myself in a new way,” said Taylor Adams on why she participated in the case competition. “I knew this would be a great opportunity to improve my problem-solving skills.

When asked how the MHA program helped her prepare for the competition, Veronica Desper said, “All of the classes I have taken have emphasized working in teams, preparing presentations, writing extensive research papers and knowing the fundamentals of health care administration.” The competition was a great opportunity to put these skills into practice.

Headshot of Veronica Desper
Veronica Desper, MHA '23

“The MHA program helped me prepare for the case by teaching me how to apply healthcare concepts to address a problem … and how to create solutions that make sense,” says Kirstyn Nero, who was drawn to the competition to build her professional portfolio.

Nero won the “Spirit Award for best presence during the Q&A.”

“I was honestly surprised,” says Nero of the achievement. “It was proof that I am truly getting the education that I sought after here at Mason.”

Headshot of Kirstyn Nero
Kirstyn Nero, MHA '22, Spirit Award Recipient

Desper and Nero both work full-time while pursuing their degree and both agree that the MHA program brings the right amount of structure and flexibility. The program’s accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME) was a key factor in choosing Mason’s MHA program.

“The competition has helped me to [be] a solutions-oriented leader,” says Adams. After graduation, she plans to secure a fellowship and start her career in a health system. “I will take this mindset with me… in any health setting I am a part of.”

Similarly, Desper seeks to complete an administrative fellowship after earning her MHA degree. She says that being able to apply critical thinking and analytical skills as well as public speaking skills, as was required in the competition, will be critical for her career in the future.

Nero said that the program has exposed her to the many career paths available within the health care environment. She says, “I believe I will graduate from this program as a well-rounded professional.”