BJC/Webster MBA Program Off to a Great Start
Webster's School of Business and Technology recently teamed with BJC Health Care to offer a unique MBA program, tailored to BJC health care professionals, held onsite at BJC's Clayton Avenue Building. BJC HealthCare is one of the largest nonprofit health-care organizations in the United States. Dean Benjamin Akande, who conceived the BJC cohort, said it's an extension of Webster's mission to bring our program to those who aspire to pursue a degree.
"Healthcare is one of our largest and fastest growing industries," said Akande, "By finding new ways to help these professionals expand their business knowledge and skills, we are benefiting the entire community."
Program coordinators Dean Leftridge, academic advisor at Webster's downtown campus, and Gary Stocker, program manager, BJC Center for Life Long Learning, said the anticipated enrollment for the onsite MBA was about 25. However, the combination of convenient location and BJC tuition reimbursement brought in 75 applications. BJC decided to keep the number to 50, and the program became a cohort consisting of two groups of 25. According to Stocker, about 40 percent of the enrollees work in clinical areas and the rest are non-clinical professionals.
Stocker said convenience was a driving force. Many BJC employees had expressed interest in pursuing an MBA, but were concerned about fitting an academic program in with work and family obligations.
The students in the cohort, who all come from the health care field, want to get more of a sense of the business of health care, said Leftridge. "All are extremely motivated and highly driven to advance their educations and are willing to make the sacrifices needed to complete it."
The program's strength seems to be the fact that the cohort consists of students who are colleagues in the same company. "The opportunity to establish working and professional relationships in conjunction with their MBA studies is a benefit we had not anticipated," said Stocker.
Matt Nolan, director of Webster's Graduate and Evening Admissions, agrees. "The real benefit to BJC is that it brings together employees from across the organization that wouldn't ordinarily be together, and that helps break down some of the real and artificial silos in an organization," he said. "For example, you might have people from finance dealing with people from marketing or administration or human resources. In addition, BJC is drawing people into the cohort not just from their Clayton Avenue facility, but also from facilities located in Sullivan and Farmington, Mo."
Stephen Gebhart, manager of Missouri Baptist HealthCare located in Sunset Hills, Mo. is a student in the program. Gebhart, who came into the program with a master's degree, said, "My masters degree in health administration gave me a sense of the health care strategic planning and the big picture. The MBA will help me hone in and develop the individual skill sets, like finance and accounting, that will help me in my everyday job."
"My previous experience has been with professors who have strong academic backgrounds and who teach theory," Gebhart said. "But the marketing class I just completed with Bob Lauman, is the best graduate class I've taken. I learned more from Bob sharing his real-world experience and from our class projects than I ever have before."
"I love the program," said student Michelle Kretzler-Hoff, business manager in perioperative services at Christian Hospital Northeast. "I received my undergraduate degree from Webster also and I highly recommend Webster University. The instructors are wonderful and they teach in a way I can immediately use in my job."
Adjunct professors Robert Lauman and Sandra Christie, taught the Spring 1 marketing classes. Christie said the students in her class came from a wide range of backgrounds, including nursing, administration and IT. "There was a nice mix of ages, too–from the 20s to the 50s."
"As a faculty member, it is quite wonderful to get a group of students who are there because they want to be there, " Christie said. "They are very bright, very engaged in classroom discussions and do the work. That's as good as it gets."