Healthcare Management degree helps students combine interests

Healthcare management degree helps students combine interests


Gerdin is home to Iowa State’s Ivy College of Business.

The new healthcare management degree program will help students combine their passions for business and healthcare. 

Students working in business and management can get involved in the healthcare industry without having to work with blood or syringes. The healthcare management degree allows undergraduates to get field experience before graduation.

Natallia Gray, the healthcare management program director, said the program connects students with the business aspects of healthcare while improving healthcare outcomes.

“The graduates with a healthcare management degree will be able to affect the business side of healthcare organizations through budgeting, revenue management, improving [the] efficiency of operations, human resource management [and] reducing costs and through that, indirectly improving healthcare outcomes,” Gray said.

Gray said after the initial discussion about the degree program, CyBIZ Lab was commissioned to conduct a market analysis study to determine whether students were interested in this degree offering.

After CyBIZ Lab completed the study, Gray was hired to write a proposal for the program. She said the Board of Regents approved the proposal in June 2022, and the program’s first student will graduate in December.

Gray explained the unique requirement for students in the program, which involves the completion of experiential learning as part of the major.

“Many students choose to satisfy this requirement by completing an internship,” Gray said. “We have a nationally ranked, high-quality hospital in Ames — Mary Greeley Medical Center– that has been an important partner in education for our healthcare management majors, and we have recently entered into an internship partnership with them.”

Gray said students can apply for and participate in internships for multiple healthcare management positions which align with the degree program’s curriculum.

“The students can participate in internships for healthcare quality management, healthcare financial management and/or operations,” Gray said.

Gray said the program’s biggest goal is to help students gain field experience, as internships will assist in students finding employment and leadership opportunities.

“Despite shortages in the healthcare workforce that we experience nationwide, [the] healthcare industry remains highly competitive, so having that internship will help them find employment,” Gray said.

Gray explained some opportunities students would have to network with professionals. Among other activities, the program invites students to listen to speakers from professional organizations and visit healthcare sites. 

“Even though we’re only in the first year of our existence, they [students] already have opportunities to get recognized for their academic achievements, including scholarships, awards, and being a member of honors society that is also starting this semester,” Gray said.

Gray said the benefits of choosing this degree program, including the convenience of pursuing a business career within a healthcare profession. 

“About 14%, or one out of every seven people in our economy, is employed in the healthcare sector,” Gray said. “Many students, when we talk to them in the class, tell us that they’ve always wanted to be in the healthcare industry and make a difference in how healthcare is delivered, but they did not want to be involved in clinical care.”

Chloe Jaeger, a junior majoring in healthcare management, said her experience within the program has been very rewarding and worthwhile.

“Healthcare management might seem like a broad term, but in every class you take, you’ll get to learn more about what you’re specifically interested in related to healthcare management,”  Jaeger said.

Despite some students’ primary interests being in other areas, they can take on healthcare management roles or courses and narrow their field to their specific interests.

Jaeger took an introductory course during her sophomore year and was intrigued by the course content and became interested in the field.

“I instantly fell in love with healthcare quality management and all the topics we talked about,” Jaeger said.

Jaeger said Gray brought guest speakers from various local healthcare facilities and Mary Greeley Medical Center to give students a clearer picture of what career path they want to pursue.