MHA@GW Welcomes Students to Campus

Collaboration as a facet of leadership ability was a major theme at the first on-campus immersion for MHA@GW students. This past September, twenty-two students from the first three cohorts traveled to the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C., to meet in person with faculty and classmates and participate in three days of intensive classroom discussions and networking opportunities. In addition to claiming their student ID cards and picking up essential Colonial swag at the GW bookstore, students explored what it means to be a leader in the rapidly changing field of health administration.

What’s Your (Leadership) Type?

After being welcomed to the campus by Dr. Lynn Goldman, dean of the Milken Institute School of Public Health, and MHA@GW faculty, students took the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), which categorizes people into 16 different personality types by determining individuals’ preferences across four distinct axes: introversion vs. extroversion, sensing vs. intuition, thinking vs. feeling and judging vs. perceiving. Employers often use the MBTI to help them learn more about how they and their employees interpret the world and make decisions. This knowledge also can provide valuable insight into an individual’s leadership style.

“Sometimes the most effective teams are the ones that are most opposite one another.” — MHA@GW Program Director Leonard Friedman

Once students received their results, MHA@GW Program Director Dr. Leonard Friedman led them through a series of discussions and exercises designed to help them better understand the strengths and weaknesses associated with their types. They discussed how to collaborate and communicate with the various types and work in environments that may not always be conducive to their natural preferences. “You may prefer to behave in a certain way, but sometimes your environment insists that you behave in another way,” Friedman noted. “At the end of the day, you’re going to be working with each one of these people.” Being sensitive to different work styles and preferences can be a boon for leaders in health care. “Knowledge of type really does influence the efficiency of a team and its performance,” Friedman said.

“I see a lot of things [in health care] that can be done better and more efficiently.” — MHA@GW student Angela Kim

In one exercise, students were asked to break into two groups — extroverts and introverts — and describe the qualities they might bring to a work setting as well as any areas that might present a challenge. In another, the students formed groups based on their tendency to sense or intuit and think or feel. In general, individuals’ preferences across these dichotomies determine whether they tend to focus more on the bottom line (critical thinking) or on the possibilities (creative thinking) of a given project. Their task? Build something meaningful in eight minutes — using LEGO bricks.

Anticipating Opportunities in the Health Care Marketplace

During the immersion, even meals provided an opportunity to learn more about the expanding world of health administration. Over dinner on Friday night, Professor Sam Hanna spoke to students about the changing health care marketplace — one that is no longer composed solely of traditional players such as hospitals and insurers. Companies that provide a variety of services across multiple industries — from disruptive startups to corporate mammoths like Samsung — are now staking their claim as well. In 2012, Americans spent $267 billion on health-related goods and services, meaning that there’s plenty of opportunity for new entrants in the field.

“As a health care professional, I want you to think about how that plays into your health care experience,” Hanna urged students. “There are some paradigm shifts happening, and I want you to think about how your skills will be able to take advantage of some of these trends.”

Learning from Industry Experts

Students also had a chance to hear from GW alumni and health administration experts. Dr. Friedman moderated the panel, which touched on issues relating to leadership, conflict resolution and the future of community health. The panelists — Fred L. Brown of Fred L. Brown & Associates LLC, Kerry Ann Hayon of Massachusetts Medical Society and Rex Holloway of Hammes Company — spoke about their experiences as leaders in health administration and answered student questions about the future of the U.S. health care system. Read our full summary of the discussion here.

All in all, it was an intense and productive first immersion for our MHA@GW students. Keyla Cooper, who is pursuing her MHA to advance her career in the military, said that the hybrid structure of the program was one of the main reasons she settled on GW. “To be able to come here, face-to-face, and get to know the faculty is the number one thing. You want to talk to them,” she said. “When I got set up [in D.C.], everyone said ‘You need to go to GW. That’s your school.’”

See You in January!

The next student immersion, scheduled for January 2015, will continue to focus on leadership. The curriculum, however, will cover topics such as emotional intelligence, servant leadership and transformational leadership, and activities will help students better understand the nature of organizational change.

Read more about MHA@GW immersion experiences.