Hear from a current student about their experience in the online Master of Health Administration program.
My name is Megan Pisone, and I’m working on my Master’s of Health Administration at Rangos School of Health Sciences. I’ve spent the last 10 years working as a pharmaceutical rep in the healthcare industry here in Pittsburgh, and I knew that I always wanted to pursue my master’s. And once I started looking into Duquesne’s program, I knew it was going to be the right fit for me.
I think it allows people that have a full-time job to manage both work and getting the work done at your own pace. It was really attractive to me that the two-year program was completely online. Anytime I needed to spend on campus, I do live in Pittsburgh, so it made it easy for me, but I really like the platform of the program, too. Once I started working with some of the counselors and talking through just how the scheduling was going to work, it just seemed like it was really paced appropriately for someone like me who does have a lot of commuting and traveling to do for my full-time job. And so far, it’s been really easy to manage everything.
A lot of the work is on Zoom. A lot of it is self-paced, but I appreciate that it’s built out where you can have a routine for the week or do what’s best for you. It seems like we all are able to manage the workload really well. There’s still group projects, so I think that part does make it a little more interactive, too. You do work one-on-one or with a couple people in the program in a specific class to work through the project.
I have worked in pharma for 10 years. The pharmaceutical industry in Pittsburgh is large. I mean, we support two of the largest IDNs in the country. We have UPMC and Allegheny Health Network right in our backyard, but I knew to get myself to the next step in my career, I really needed to work on building some development and leadership skills, and I thought this program just really gave me the right balance of those skills.
Social determinants of health is definitely one of the biggest reasons that I wanted to pursue my master’s. I feel really strongly about how we can equalize access to healthcare, whether it’s through the healthcare systems here in Pittsburgh, whether it’s access to pharmaceutical drugs, access to a primary healthcare provider, access to homeless medicine. And I do see the disparities in even Pittsburgh in terms of access to healthcare. And I feel that it’s a responsibility for people in health administration roles to really find new and innovative ways to deliver healthcare to everyone.
I did look at other programs locally as well, but I just thought that Duquesne’s program was the best fit for me. I knew that when I looked at the Master’s of Health Administration here and the self-pace of the program being online and the reputation that they have in the public health space in Pittsburgh already was something that made it really attractive to me. I think that notoriety is already there, and that reputation is really strong for just producing well-rounded individuals in the healthcare industry.
I started right in the middle of COVID. I started in May. I started the process looking into Duquesne in April, and immediately, despite all the uncertainty that was going on in the world, I felt that this was a solid place to be. I could tell that the program was already working to address some of the things that might make people apprehensive about taking a leap like this during COVID. From the original advisors that I spoke to talking to the faculty and then really starting the program in May, I never looked back. I thought despite everything that’s going on in the world and all the uncertainty, this was a really solid place for me to continue to pursue those dreams I had of working on my master’s.
I really do love pharmaceutical work and working in the pharmaceutical industry. I think that I plan to try to pursue leadership opportunities, possibly more management roles. There’s a lot of field reimbursement and communication working with health systems locally that would require more graduate work just to reflect some of the programs that they’re working on even here in Pittsburgh.
So my dream job would be to continue to work in the pharmaceutical industry and collaborate with integrated delivery networks and learn more about how they are working to serve patients. I think that a lot of the leadership opportunities between the health networks, health systems, and pharmaceutical industry, or any type of medical services industry, any kind of vendor management, you really do need master’s level work just to understand more about how the two are integrating and working together.
I want to learn more about what goes on behind the scenes, more about the operation side or how strategic planning fits in for both the hospitals and the pharmaceutical companies, or how vendor management programs are starting to change based on changes to access to physicians, how they’re making decisions for drug formulary. All those things are interests of mine, and I think the program’s really reflective of that.
I actually chose the concentration of population health because I thought it was really reflective of a lot of the work that we already do in the pharmaceutical industry. I think it aligns really closely, too, with where health networks are moving to try to pursue more of a patient centered care model. And a lot of the work that Duquesne is doing in Rangos really reflects shifting towards that model. The shift towards telemedicine and being a little more agile and mobile versus a traditional healthcare delivery model. And I think that I see this program already shifting towards trying to reflect the changes in the industry, and I’ve already been really excited just to work on projects that reflect that shift, too.
I think the one thing about the program that’s been really cool is being able to work on projects within the specific classes and in areas that interest you. I’ve worked with people in the classes so far who’ve done telemedicine projects or looking at rural health delivery, how telemedicine will fit into different healthcare models. I already worked on a telemedicine project for my Intro to Health Sciences class just to address how healthcare needs to fit telemedicine in now long-term. It’s not going to be a short-term thing. It’s here to stay. And I think the freedom that this program allows to explore those areas and choose topics that are of interest to you and in your specific area of expertise maybe for what you’re doing now in your career is really important, because it allows us to grow in spaces that we have the most interest and maybe confidence in as well.
I thought all of the faculty have been so responsive. For someone who does work, full-time my hours tend to be a little different. I’m working through things at night or early in the morning, and I still feel like I’m a part of a class. I feel like I’m a part of a group, and I’ve really liked that. All of the advisors, the faculty, everyone has been flexible working on my schedule, too, which is really important.
We all exchange numbers. We text, we call, we work together. Who’s going to be on the Zoom tonight? Can someone else take notes if someone’s going to miss it? I feel like there’s comradery there, because a lot of us are working. A lot of us are doing things full-time or managing a family or managing other things outside of just school. And I have already felt like I have a group to work with in the next couple of years, and I’m excited about that, too. Every time I see that they’re in my classes, I get really excited. But so far I have felt nothing but the same comradery that I was looking for in a group that would be completing the program with me.
This is a really nice, warm, comfortable place to be. And I feel that most people in Pittsburgh would agree that Duquesne has a great reputation just for being a school that’s still close to the city, but feels like it has its own identity and its own ownership compared to some of the other schools in the area. Feeling like you’re part of a program where you really matter and that the value was there for me, both financially as well. I just felt like this was the best value for me.