Executive Health Systems program continues to thrive

The most recent cohort is set to graduate in August, with the next class preparing to begin studies this fall.

The most recent group of students enrolled in the Executive Heath Systems - Manhattan program.
The most recent group of students enrolled in the Executive Heath Systems - Manhattan program.
The most recent group of students enrolled in the Executive Heath Systems - Manhattan program.

Binghamton University’s Executive Master of Science in Health Systems gives New York City-based professionals the unique opportunity to maintain a career while earning an MS in only one year. With classes held only on Saturdays in midtown Manhattan, the program allows students to continue working full-time while advancing their education in order to break into the healthcare industry, advance their career and keep current on trends in the industry.

Professionals in these fields have helped healthcare facilities improve total quality management as well as scheduling and sequencing in outpatient clinics and operational control.

While students come to the program for a variety of reasons, the ultimate focus is always on improving the safety, cost, quality and efficiency of healthcare delivery processes.

Some current students and alumni recently shared their experience and why the program was a perfect fit for their career goals.

Advancing to the next stage in your career

Nafis Brown will be graduating from the Executive MS in Health Systems program this year. Brown has already been working in the healthcare industry but needed something to help advance his career.

“Currently, I work at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital as a quality and patient safety specialist. The methodologies, tools and process improvement knowledge delivered throughout the program gave me the boost I needed to move into this role. Having worked on the frontline in the healthcare industry for about 10 years, I needed a program such as this to take me to the next level,” he explained.

The Saturday-only schedule was a big draw for Brown as well. “As a full-time employee, I was able to maintain my professional role and work toward a degree seamlessly… I knew I wanted to complete my master’s degree as quickly as I could.”

His advice to prospective students is to take full advantage of the program, fellow students and faculty members.

“The class is a very diverse group of students with different professional and educational backgrounds. Each student is unique in their own way, which was something I was excited about coming into in the program. I was able to learn a lot from just my classmates alone,” he said.

“Also, the faculty members in the program are very helpful and resourceful. I recognized immediately that the faculty here wants us all to succeed and do well, which means a lot.”

Valerie Tanis ‘04, MS ‘14, also enrolled in the program to advance her career in the healthcare industry.

“I chose Binghamton University’s MS Health Systems program after already being in the healthcare industry for 10 years at the time. I wanted to contribute to an integrated healthcare delivery system that would synchronize quality improvement and population health data in order to provide actionable analytics,” said Tanis. “If I devoted my time to studying health systems and having a better understanding of how quality, financial gain/loss, population health etc. are all interrelated, then I would be in a better position to bridge technology to quality. I can be part of the solution by bringing systems together and help healthcare transform from being disjointed to a more coordinated industry.”

Although Tanis had a clear idea of what she was hoping to achieve, it wasn’t always easy.

“The first day of class, after everyone left, I sat there at the desk in tears,” she said. I thought to myself how am I going to really do this? Then my motivating factors were: elevating in academia in order to be more marketable and attract better careers and to inspire my daughter by teaching her not to ever give up no matter what. I had a village of supporters from varying child care arrangements to explaining to my daughter that mommy had to study after work most times but this is only temporary. She understood which made any days that I was amiss not seem distant at all.”

Today, Tanis is a working as an IT Project Manager for a health analytics company called Optimus.

Breaking into the healthcare industry

Sean Brophy ‘13, MS ’15, found a full-time job after completing his undergraduate degree but found that the position wasn’t exactly what he wanted.

“I really enjoyed the job I had before and during the Executive MS in Health Systems program, but I had always wanted to transition my career into healthcare,” said Brophy.

“Most other programs require weekly night classes over an extended period of time and offer minimal flexibility. My job required significant travel, especially during busy seasons but my undergraduate exposure to the excellence of Binghamton’s Systems Science and Industrial Engineering Department and curriculum, coupled with the accommodating Saturday schedule, made the Executive MS in Health Systems program a no-brainer.

“It was very difficult for me as a young professional to sacrifice nearly every Saturday for 12 months. There are pros and cons to the accelerated curriculum but, in my experience, the benefits made the sacrifice completely worth it,” he added.

One of the most difficult parts, Brophy said, was explaining his interest in the program to his supervisors.

“A large part of my success was that I was completely up front with leadership. While it was a difficult conversation to initiate, they understood my long-term goals and, luckily, they were extremely supportive. If there is an opportunity to do so without sacrificing any good will, I would strongly advise being completely up front with your current supervisors about your decision to enroll in the Executive MS in Health Systems program. This was critical to my maintenance of a healthy work and school balance.”

A program for those with clinical ambitions

For other students in the program, it was a way to see another side of healthcare before taking the plunge into medical school. Bertillia Tavarez ’17 will complete her MS this year and used the program as a way to fill her gap year with something meaningful for her ambitions.

“While I was still an undergraduate, I was a pre-medical student and I was planning to take a gap year before applying to medical school. During a meeting with my counselor about ideas of what to do during my gap year, she mentioned this program and I looked for more information about it. I decided to do it since it would introduce me to a different side of medicine not well-known by many physicians, which would make me a better doctor since I would bring a new and different perspective to medicine through which I can deliver quality care in the most efficient way,” said Tavarez.

Along with completing the program, Tavarez is a part-time do it yourself science teacher and robotics instructor, a private tutor and a volunteer at Harlem Hospital. She said the MS program helped her learn to balance her time, a skill that will definitely be useful in medical school.

“The best advice is to be prepared for the workload that a graduate program requires. It is definitely crucial to have great time management skills as there would be a lot of work to get done in a small amount of time since each class is only five Saturdays long,” she said. “Although most people have full-time jobs and a social life, the work is definitely manageable if time is properly distributed throughout the week. There is not much room for procrastination.”

Since its inception in 2013, the one-year, Saturdays-only Executive Master of Science in Health Systems – Manhattan program has enjoyed a strong following with participation from students of various academic backgrounds. The fifth and most recent cohort is set to graduate in Aug. 2018, while the next cohort is already preparing to begin studies this fall.

After making news in 2014 for its diversity – particularly for female representation in a STEM program – the incoming 2018 cohort is set to be one of the most dynamic groups yet. The class is presently more than 50 percent female with 33 percent known to be from populations historically underrepresented in STEM programs.

Admissions are rolling while the final cohort is still coming together for the Aug. 17, 2018, orientation. To request more information, attend one of the program’s many public speaker events or visit a class, contact program director Mohammad Khasawneh or his assistant Erin Hornbeck.