In October 2017, a team of graduate students from the Department of Health Management and Policy put their analytical and presentation skills to the test at the national Everett V. Fox Student Case Competition.
The students were the first-ever University of Iowa team to participate in the case competition held at the 32nd Annual Educational Conference of the National Association of Health Services Executives (NAHSE) in San Antonio, Texas.
NAHSE is a non-profit association of black health care executives founded in 1968 for the purpose of promoting the advancement and development of black health care leaders and elevating the quality of health care services rendered to minority and underserved communities.
“This was a great opportunity for our students to practice their skills and build their professional network,” says Dan Gentry, clinical professor of health management and policy, director of the UI Master of Health Administration (MHA) program, and the team’s faculty mentor. “It’s also a way our program can nurture and support more diversity among our students and in the health care executive profession.”
The UI team members included Alton Croker, a third-year health services and policy doctoral student; Winnie Uluocha, a third-year MHA/JD student; and Nora Kopping, a second-year MHA student. Kylor Sorensen, a second-year MHA/MBA student, and Jamison Robinett, a first-year MHA student, served as observer and potential alternate, and observer, respectively.
Advancing Diverse Leadership
The 28 teams were given a unique case study and were charged with applying their creativity, knowledge, and experience to analyze the diverse and real situations facing the health care organization featured in the case.
“I think it’s important that our school was represented at the case competition, not only because of the exposure that we had to minority health care executives, but also because it speaks to what we’re moving towards in the program, in terms of population health and the implications of social determinants on health,” says Uluocha. “Personally, it was extremely important for me to see African American leaders represented in the health care field, and also to have the opportunity to learn from and network with some of the brightest minds in health care to tackle real world problems.”
“Iowa is uniquely positioned with such a strong program in health administration,” Croker says. “Being affiliated with a program like NAHSE that aims to advance minority health care leaders is great as a commitment to the broader profession, but also for our own program, and making sure that we see that reflected at all levels.”
“Case competitions are an opportunity to take what we’ve learned in the classroom and apply it to the real world,” adds Kopping. “Having done one case competition before [at a different school], I can say that it was the single greatest learning opportunity I had in the program. Second, it’s really important for me as a future health care leader to understand how to incorporate diversity and inclusion into health care administration.”
Sorensen points out that the range of academic backgrounds represented on the team also added to the experience.
“We had a PhD student, a law student, an MHA/MBA student – we had all these areas of academia coming together, and it brought a lot to the table,” Sorensen says. “Everyone brought a different insight into the problems that are being faced in health care today.”
The MHA program recently added diversity to its set of core values, and participating in the case competition was an opportunity to put the program’s values into practice, Sorensen points out.
“It’s something tangible,” Uluocha agrees.
A Huge Step Forward
Three weeks prior to the competition, each team received the case study to prepare their presentation. During the competition, each team had 20 minutes to present their analysis and recommendations, which was followed by a 10-minute question and answer period. Presentations were made before a panel of judges representing leaders in the health care field, corporate sponsors, and academia.
The Iowa team advanced as far as the semi-final round of 10 graduate student teams.
“Our Iowa team gave a second amazing presentation in the semi-finals,” says Gentry. “This was a great win for them personally and a huge step forward for our tremendous program and department.”