MUSC MHA program hosts the first national undergraduate case competition for health administration programs

Jessie Bradley, MBA
October 28, 2019
The top four finalists of the case competition stand in front of the College of Health Professions.
The top four teams from Auburn University, Central Michigan University, Loyola University Chicago, and University of Scranton stand in front of the College of Health Professions.

Here are the facts. Stroke is one of the leading causes of death in the United States and can cause significant disabilities in adult survivors. South Carolina is in the heart of the stroke belt, and many rural areas in the state may be without access to stroke specialists that can provide the care needed to identify and treat stroke promptly – something that's essential for patient survival and recovery. The use of telemedicine for stroke patients has been proven to provide better access to therapy and improve patient outcomes.

Now imagine you are a health administration professional consulting for the MUSC Center for Telehealth. You have been given three weeks to prepare and present a pricing model for the creation of three new telehealth sites as part of the MUSC Telestroke Network. You have limited information, including stroke patient volume data from hospital emergency departments, costs, and perimeters for the Health Resources & Services Administration grant that was awarded to increase access to stroke care in South Carolina. After the presentation, you will be asked by the Board of Directors to explain and defend your decisions.

That’s just what students from across the United States were tasked with as part of the first-ever undergraduate health administration case competition.

On October 17 and 18, the Master in Health Administration (MHA) program at MUSC College of Health Professions welcomed undergraduate students and faculty coaches from 15 colleges and universities. These health administration students competed for their chance to win up to $1,000, funded in part by the CAHME-Aramark Innovation Grant awarded to MUSC’s MHA program this year.

To kick off the event on Thursday, Tom Crawford, Ph.D., MBA, FACHE, interim chief operating officer of MUSC Health, delivered a keynote address. He spoke on the challenges in health care today, the need for strong leadership in the field, and the need for individuals with advanced degrees in health administration. Catherine Young, a senior on the winning team from Central Michigan University, stated, “he brought a different perspective that I hadn’t heard about in a while. He focused so much on adaptability. It was also interesting to learn about his background and how he learned things throughout his career.”

Friday morning, teams from each of the colleges presented their proposed solution to the telestroke case provided three weeks ago. After their presentation, a panel of judges, made of up MUSC leaders and college alumni, asked follow-up questions and graded each team on presentation style, logic in decision making, depth of analysis, and their ability to answer questions in a composed manner.

Of the 15 teams that presented, four were selected to move on to the final round. The finalists, from Auburn University, Central Michigan University, Loyola University of Chicago, and University of Scranton, presented their case solutions to a new panel of judges, including Patrick J. Cawley, M.D., MBA, CEO of MUSC Health and vice president for health affairs at MUSC, and Shawn Valenta, MHA, administrator of telehealth at MUSC.

Final round judges for the case competition stand in front of the College of Health Professions building. 
Final round judges (left to right), Matt Reich, MHA, Amelia Bischoff, MHA, Shawn Valenta, MHA, Patrick J. Cawley, M.D., MBA, and Rick Toomey, DHA, FACHE.

Having leadership from across the university participate in the competition “showed great support for the program. We really appreciate their participation, and it added a nice level of understanding of the case. It says a lot to the students to have the CEO of a health system sitting in front of them asking questions,” said Jami Jones, MHA, Ph.D., chairperson for the department of healthcare leadership and management and division director for the Master in Health Administration program. Kimberly Truong, a student from Loyola University Chicago, echoed Jones’ sentiment stating, “working on a professional case and presenting to judges of this caliber was an amazing experience.”

After presenting for the final time, the first and second place winners were announced and presented with their checks for $1,000 and $500, respectively. Students from Loyola University Chicago took home the second-place prize. The first-place team made up of Olivia Arends, Kyle Chamberlain, Kayla Pung, and Catherine Young, from Central Michigan University, were the event’s big winners.

Students from Central Michigan University stand with their large $1000 check for first place. 
The team of students from Central Michigan University took home first place and $1,000 in the competition.

The MHA program was extremely honored to host this event. It is the first time a case competition has ever been available to undergraduate health administration students, and it was a great experience for all in attendance. Randy Botvinnik of Loyola University Chicago thought, "interacting with different schools and knowing that we’re all working to solve the same problems in health care was the most interesting part of the competition for me." Another participant, Marissa Lembo, from the University of Scranton, said, “participating helped me step out of my comfort zone, and I learned things I couldn't learn in a classroom.” 

The Master in Health Administration Division hopes to continue the event on an annual basis. 

We extend a special thank you to all those that helped make this event possible.

Participating Colleges & Universities

Loyola University Chicago, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Weber State University, University of Minnesota Duluth, Central Michigan University, Western Kentucky University, Auburn University, East Carolina University, Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University, Stonehill College, Winthrop University, Metropolitan State University of Denver, University of North Florida, The Pennsylvania State University, and University of Scranton

Case Competition Judges

Michelle Brown-Nelson, DHA
Adjunct Professor
College of Health Professions
Medical University of South Carolina

Russell Calicutt, MHA
Executive Director, Carolina eHealth Network
South Carolina Medical Association

Albany Cromer, DHA, MSOM
Learning Technologies Manager
Medical University of South Carolina

Meghan Glanville, MHA
Lead Systems Coordinator
MUSC Center for Telehealth

Joni D. Nelson, Ph.D., MS
Assistant Professor and Deputy Director, Division of Population Oral Health
Department of Stomatology
College of Dental Medicine
Medical University of South Carolina

Brian Poplin, DHA
Former President and Chief Executive Officer,
Elior North America

Parker Rhoden, MHA
Ph.D. Student and Graduate Assistant, MUSC

William R. Riddle, MHA
Associate Quality Specialist
Care Coordination Institute

Cory O. Robinson, MHA, PMP
Associate Chief of Staff – Office of the Chief Executive Officer
MUSC Health

William Stalvey, MHA
Business Analyst
MUSC Health

Emily Warr, MSN
Director of Operations
MUSC Center for Telehealth

James Zoller, Ph.D., MHA
Professor and Dean Emeritus
College of Health Professions
Medical University of South Carolina

Amelia Bischoff, MHA
Director, Digital Health Services
Prisma Health

Patrick J. Cawley, MD, MBA
CEO, MUSC Health and Vice President for Health Affairs, University
Medical University of South Carolina

Matt Reich, MHA
Chief Information Officer & Senior Vice President
McLeod Health

Rick Toomey, DHA, FACHE
South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control

Shawn Valenta, MHA
Administrator of Telehealth
Medical University of South Carolina