HSM Graduates, left to right: Belinda Kaneza, Abigail Stoffel, Naimo Sheik, and Bianca Nkwonta

A degree from the Health Services Management program can take you places! The program is designed to lay foundational knowledge and skills, preparing students for a range of administrative and managerial positions in health care. To give you some idea of the variety of roles you’ll be prepared to take on as a graduate of the HSM program, we solicited feedback from some of our alumni. 

Bianca Nkwonta (BN) is a spring 2019 graduate and a management consultant for health care consulting firm Accenture.

Belinda Kaneza (BK) graduated during the summer semester of 2018 and works as an account consultant at OptumRx. She reviews, interprets, and validates financial contractual agreements between external clients and OptumRx.

Abby Stoffel (AS) is a winter 2016 graduate who works as a quality improvement lead in Maternal & Infant Health at United Healthcare.

Naimo Sheik (NS) graduated in spring 2018 and is a hot line specialist on the COVID-19 Project at the Minnesota Department of Health.

Questions and Answers

What skill(s) did you gain in the HSM program that helped you get your job or that you use in your job?

BN: In HSM, we studied problem-solving frameworks such as the fishbone and 5 Why's methodologies in our health care case studies. I used both of these frameworks in preparation for my case study interview, and also in the actual interview—and I think they helped me complete my case study confidently and land the job!

BK: A skill you gain from the HSM program is practicing intersectionality in regards to health care. Knowing that services can never be one-size-fits-all allows the opportunity for creativity and innovation. Health care is anything but stagnant and predictable—and having taken a variety of courses helped prepare me to think more globally and creatively. 

Health care is anything but stagnant and predictable—and having taken a variety of courses helped prepare me to think more globally and creatively.

AS: The HSM program exposed me to various different paths one could take within the health care industry such as hospital, nursing home, and health insurance environments. Skills such as quality improvement methodology, financial analysis, and systems thinking have all proved to be beneficial in my career thus far. In my current role, I must understand and utilize quality improvement cycles, data analysis, contract requirements, and payment structures to perform most effectively. The HSM program provided me with a base understanding of these principles and set me up to be successful in the handful of different job experiences I've had since graduation.

NS: I believe having had that experience and internship with MDH through the HSM program helped me with getting the position I work in today. The HSM program taught me how to deal with health care delivery whether it was with answering questions from the public, health care providers, employees and employers and how to maintain the different strategies that I've learned with each specific category or how I can best direct them or provide COVID-19 guidance.

How did your internship prepare you for work in the health care industry?

BN: My internship prepared me for my full-time role because it emphasized the importance of networking. When I got to consulting, I realized that I would find my most interesting and fulfilling assignments through connections with my mentors and peers. Getting into the practice of setting up a call with one new person every few days, whether it was a VP or another intern, was extremely useful. I also learned note taking, not in the context of learning but in the context of summarizing for others. This skill, which seems so unimportant, made me appear as a strong analyst and an attentive listener (which I hope I genuinely was!).

I highly recommend treating all HSM interactions as potential networking opportunities.

BK: Through the HSM Capstone course, our group presented our case to the management team at Anthem. That presentation helped me network and secure an internship at Anthem which later on turned into a full-time position. I highly recommend treating all HSM interactions as potential networking opportunities.

AS: I feel that my internship was a crucial part of my education while at the University. I had the opportunity to learn hands-on and experience what it might be like in the workforce post-graduation. It solidified for me that the path I had chosen with the HSM degree was what I wanted to do, career-wise. After my internship ended, I worked part-time throughout my last semester of college. When it came time to interview for a role post-graduation, I had plenty of "real world" experiences to draw upon. My first role out of college was as a nursing home administrator which, without my HSM internship in the long-term care setting, I would not have been qualified to even apply for.

NS: I believe that my internship at the Minnesota Department of Health as a senior paraprofessional in the health economics program, that I got through the HSM program, really gave me experience and hands-on training to be ready in the real world. Two years later, in the midst of a confusing world pandemic, I found myself working with the Minnesota Department of Health again!

What advice do you have for someone interested in working in the health care field?

BN: Your professors can be a great resource to you. If you have time, ask them how you can be an asset to them, how you can support them, and/or how you can help make their lives easier. They may be able to return the favor in a big way one day!

BK: Take advantage that the HSM teaches multiple disciplines around the health care sector. Don’t stick to one thing—try everything out!

AS: I would advise students in the HSM program to be curious and expose themselves to different settings in the health care delivery system. Each is unique, yet the principles and foundational skills of the HSM program at the University truly set one up for success. I would advise them to network and feel confident enough to reach out to those in roles or organizations they may be interested in working at. Most people in the industry are happy to connect to share their experiences and even, at times, provide connections to roles. Although it may be intimidating at first, you will never know the potential payoff unless you take the chance to reach out.

Although it may be intimidating at first, you will never know the potential payoff unless you take the chance to reach out.

NS: Have faith and take a chance, you never know what amazing opportunities await you! I think we can all make a difference and impact the world in some way. What I love about the HSM degree is there is not only one path that can be taken but a number of different paths available which stood out to me. You’re not limited to working in one area; it's a very flexible degree. The HSM program directors and instructors are all so very dedicated to helping students succeed! Don’t be afraid to ask questions and absorb the knowledge. Learn about their careers and educational backgrounds, (which) I found to be very inspiring! It’s a versatile degree. I've had a great experience.