HMP students will represent UI at student case competition

Published on October 5, 2017

group photo of students
From left: Kylor Sorensen, Nora Kopping, Alton Croker, Winnie Uluocha, and Jamison Robinett

Update: The Iowa team advanced to the semi-final round of 10 graduate student teams (out of 28 competing teams) at the student case competition. Despite a strong presentation, they did not advance to the finals.

“Our Iowa team gave a second amazing presentation in the semi-finals,” Dan Gentry remarked. “They absolutely aced the Q&A. And the room was packed. So many people came up afterwards, including faculty colleagues and students from across the country, to congratulate our team on their stellar performance.

“As I told the team, and they’ve already heard back from many of you, this is already a great win for them personally and a huge step forward for our tremendous program and department. “Our team, and our observers, have represented us incredibly well, have made such a positive impression and mark here, and are benefiting from everything that the NAHSE annual education conference has to offer. “

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In October, a team of University of Iowa graduate students will put their analytical and presentation skills to the test at the national Everett V. Fox Student Case Competition.

The students, all from the Department of Health Management and Policy, are the first-ever UI team to participate in the case competition taking place at the 32nd Annual Educational Conference of the National Association of Health Services Executives (NAHSE) Oct. 17-20 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 is 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 are 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, will join the group as observer and potential alternate, and observer, respectively.

Advancing Diverse Leadership

The UI team will be competing against 20-25 teams from other schools and universities. Graduate programs in health administration and related fields form teams of one to three students. All teams commit to sending a team of diverse competitors, specifically including African Americans.

The teams are given a unique case study and are charged with applying their creativity, knowledge, and experience to analyze the diverse and real situations facing the health care organization featured in the case.

“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.”

“I think it’s important that our school is represented at the case competition, not only because of the exposure that we’ll have 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’s extremely important for me to see African American leaders represented in the health care field, and also have the opportunity to learn from and network with some of the brightest minds in health care to tackle real world problems.”

“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 adds to the experience.

“We have a PhD student, a law student, an MHA/MBA student – we have all these areas of academia coming together, and it brings a lot to the table,” Sorensen says. “Everyone brings 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 is an opportunity to put the program’s values into practice, Sorensen points out.

“It’s something tangible,” Uluocha agrees.

Prepping for Competition

Three weeks prior to the competition, each team receives the case study to prepare their presentation. During the competition, each team has 20 minutes to present their analysis and recommendations, which is followed by a 10-minute question and answer period. Presentations are made before a panel of judges representing leaders in the health care field, corporate sponsors, and academia.

Teams advance first to semi-finals and then a final round of finalists. First-, second-, and third-place scholarship prizes are awarded, in the amounts of $4,000, $3,000, and $2,000 to each member of the winning teams, respectively.

As part of its preparation, the UI team will give a practice presentation to the entire MHA first- and second-year cohort, as well as the senior leadership team at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and the clinical department heads.

“It’s a really exciting opportunity to get feedback,” says Kopping. “And that’s a really unique thing about the Iowa health management and policy program, that we have that link to the UI Hospitals and Clinics and that they’re willing to do something like this for us.”

“It speaks to the support throughout the university,” Croker adds.