Within two months of graduating from the UNTHSC School of Public Health (MHA ’16), Harleen Singh took on a highly selective administrative residency with Baylor Scott & White Health (BS&W), one of the largest not-for-profit health care systems in the United States.
This two-year postgraduate program – which helps prepare future health care leaders so they will be ready to assume a key management role within a complex health care organization – placed Singh with BS&W’s Health Texas Provider Network physicians group.
Her focus is on outpatient operations management, and the job takes her to different locations around Dallas-Fort Worth, where she spends several months in rotation learning about outpatient services, finance, human resources, physician-administrator relationships and other aspects of the business.
After completing her bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Sciences with a Business Certificate, Singh worked two years for Hilton Worldwide, where she was involved in revenue management and analysis for all of the company’s brands.
“It was during that time that I developed an interest in health care administration,” she said. “I have always had a passion for helping people, and being married to a physician, I was inspired to explore ways that I could apply my skills to the field and be able to serve others as well.”
She decided to pursue an MHA program where she could build on her revenue management background as a transition into health care leadership.
“I liked that the UNTHSC program is accredited by CAHME, the Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education. This was very important to me when selecting my school, as it means that the program has met all the guidelines for having a robust and effective curriculum,” she said.
“Additionally, the program requires a 12-week, hands-on experiential internship where students are asked to incorporate, synthesize and apply their knowledge within both an operational and a community context. The program overall provided me with an excellent education and skillset to succeed in the health care industry,” she said.
As Singh took courses in health care finance, strategy, operations management and leadership development, she studied with health industry leaders who brought their real-world experiences into the classroom, “making it more relatable,” she said.
She also found a career mentor when she connected with Jack DuFon, her MHA internship preceptor at the VA Health Care System Dallas/Fort Worth, whose guidance helped Singh move toward her current administrative resident position.
“His advice helped me realize that practice management is a strong fit for my skills,” she said. “I believe it’s very important to connect with a mentor early on in your career, and in this field, organizations like the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) are quite helpful with that process.”
Singh said she sees important work for outpatient health leadership in the future.
“As health care policies evolve and change, marketplace incentives are encouraging health systems to find ways of managing chronic disease care outside the traditional hospital setting. This signals a new trend for outpatient clinics, and it will be an important learning experience for me as I begin my career,” she said.