Mentorship program connects MHA students with recent graduates

Samantha Paternoster
February 27, 2021
Master in Health Administration students attend a career panel in 2016
Master in Health Administration students attending a 2016 career panel.

A mentorship program for second year Master in Health Administration (MHA) students is already seeing great success. The program was launched at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in August 2020.

“We want our current students to be connected with people in the field, and we realized that their exposure to our alumni was somewhat limited due to COVID,” says Jami Jones, Ph.D., division director of the MHA program.

Jones worked with MHA alumni and student representatives on the Health Administration Alumni Network Board of Directors to create a mentorship program designed to provide a safe space for students to ask questions and receive guidance from alumni who are recent graduates.

“While we provide academic and career advice as faculty, many of us don’t currently work in the field,” Jones explains. Matching students with alumni who have relevant, current experience in their desired field and geographical region was top of mind as Jones developed the MHA Mentorship Program.

“Our alumni are familiar with their own organizations’ preferences and policies, so it’s easier for them to give advice to our students on what current employers are looking for,” says Jones.

The mentor/mentee experience

Alumnus Sam Pollock, Class of 2015, and currently a project coordinator at University of Florida Health, was connected with student Mary Kathryn Brown through the MHA Mentorship Program.

Having recently graduated, Pollock recalled the influx of advice he received while a student –and how it often turned into unwanted pressure. As an MHA mentor, he wanted to be a resource and a guide for Brown, as well as a sympathetic ear she could confide in.

“Honestly, I just hope I can provide her some level of confidence in the decision she makes,” Pollock says. “I’d rather build her up and hope that she jumps with full confidence.”

More than anything it was important to Pollock that Brown have all the necessary information to make the right decision for her – whether it was something he could provide himself or through connecting Brown with a colleague.

As part of the team that developed the MHA Mentorship Program, Brown has found the program to be especially rewarding. Having a safe space to talk about the ups and downs of fellowship and job interviews has helped Brown navigate her second year.

“Your second year is super crazy and there are lots of changes about to happen. Having a mentor to talk through these things and check in with is very helpful and encouraging,” Brown says. “My greatest takeaway from this program and working with Sam is that I want to do this for a student one day.”

The MHA Mentorship Program is already seeing results

The MHA Mentorship Program is proof that something as simple as an email to check in and ask how the student is doing goes a long way to fostering their success.

“This program has helped me have accountability and just a safe place to vent,” Brown says. “When Sam and I meet, he always asks me where I’m at, which has helped me set goals for myself. Whether it was good or bad news, it still helped to talk through things and get some real-world perspective.”

Brown recently accepted a full-time position with MUSC as a quality and safety data analyst, and is currently in the MHA Executive track as she finishes her last semester. She credits the MHA Mentorship Program with helping her reach her goals.

As for the mentor benefits, Pollock says that mentoring Brown helped him hone and develop his leadership skills. “I’m extremely proud of our program to do this,” he says. “It’s nice to look back and see the program growing and coming up with really cool and innovative things.”

Alumni interested in participating in the MHA Mentorship Program can email Jami Jones at dellifra@musc.edu.

About the Author

Samantha Paternoster
Contributing Writer

Keywords: Health Administration, Alumni, Current Students