MBA Grad Assistants Benefit from New Partnership with Allegheny Health Network!

We are pleased to announce Chatham University’s Master of Business Administration  and Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS) programs have joined with Allegheny Health Network (AHN), a large regional hospital system, to form an innovative, ongoing partnership that provides clinical placements across specialties to a cohort of Chatham’s Physician’s Assistant (PA) students each year. AHN has agreed to take 27 PA students per year for their nine clinical rotations. Also, as part of the partnership, AHN hosts two Chatham MBA Graduate Assistants to manage the partnership in their Human Resources Department.  Two MBA Graduate Assistants who had been working in the B&E Dept. were recently awarded these newly created positions at AHN!  Olta Shehu, MBA Self-Designed ’18, and Illina Maharjan, MBA Healthcare Management ’17, transitioned to AHN in February 2017.

Dr. Rachel Chung, Business & Entrepreneurship (B&E) Department Program Chair and Director, is enthusiastic about the Chatham-AHN partnership. “We are very excited about this collaboration between Chatham’s MBA program and AHN.  This is an exceptional opportunity for Chatham MBA students to refine their management and leadership skills and to be mentored by experienced professionals in the healthcare industry.  Their supervisors at Allegheny Health Network get to work directly with these hard-working and bright MBA students from Chatham University who bring new ideas and valuable skills to the workplace.”

Judy Truscott, Chatham’s Physician Assistant Studies Program Director, is also excited about this new opportunity, stating, “This initiative addresses increasing competition for clinical placements within the medical field, in addition to serving as a method for provider recruitment for Allegheny Health Network.”

Illina Maharjan, MBA Healthcare Management ’17

Olta is energized by the hands-on experience she has been gaining at AHN. Olta facilitates the Clinical Experience Student Program at AHN. The role helps her better understand the development of pilot projects from start to finish in a corproate environment. Also, she sees how the departments of AHN function with each other and other external parties to move projects ahead. Moreover, she enjoys the leadership role and the opportunity to incorporate input of diverse consultants into the project.

Illina shared additional insights about her position. “Working in the second largest healthcare provider in Pittsburgh is a great opportunity for me as a Chatham MBA student. Interacting with senior leadership has significantly strengthened the knowledge I have been gaining as part of the MBA program, while learning new skills beyond what I have learned in the classroom. I find it critical to maintain effective interpersonal relationships as a member of a team while working independently. I am learning to work effectively and patiently with the teams from different cultures, backgrounds, lifestyles and personalities. I am also learning to better set priorities and complete assignments on time.”

Olta Shehu, MBA Self-Designed ’18

The students are applying knowledge gained during the MBA program to their current positions. Illina explained how the tasks she completes while working at the B&E Department and AHN are helping her. “I am applying all of my MBA knowledge. I am also enrolled in health communication course this semester which is helping me a lot while working with Allegheny Health Network team, especially in communicating with different levels of leadership in the organization, such as the senior executives, project managers and preceptors. I am also able to apply other management knowledge and skills in administrative work such as managing schedules, participating in meetings and group discussions, brainstorming, and assisting in the coordination of placements for PA students. And I maintain regular communication with program participants of the Chatham Physician Assistant Program and Preceptors.”

Olta comments how the Information Systems and Analytics course ( BUS 577) provided her with the foundational skills needed to perform her duties. “I am in the beginning of my master’s program but one class, in particular, Dr. Rachel Chung’s Information Systems and Analytics course, helped me better understand the program’s needs. I remember Dr. Chung emphasizing the importance of data analytics in today’s modern life. I took this class in Fall 2016, and a couple of months later we have a real life situation related to data management that we need to address. I know now how to collect, store, process, and interpret student data, such as demographic information, background checks, training, placement, accesses, reporting, etc. Taking this class made me understand better what the project needs, data management-wise, and what path we need to follow to achieve it.”

Intrigued about the future of these two remarkable MBA students, we asked them about their career plans. In her home country of Albania, Olta worked for two years as an Executive Assistant and a Social Media Coordinator for the best electronic retail store in the region.  She recognizes that a lot of business processes, dilemmas, issues, and objectives remain the same regardless of what industry one works in. Olta states, “I feel confident and excited in my new position, and I am motivated to do what it takes to be successful.  My aspiration is to become a project manager, and run projects like the one I am working on right now. The MBA program gives me a lot of knowledge and skills in managing the business project in corporation settings while working at AHN helps me practice what I learn and gain healthcare experience.”

Illina added, “I would like to work in the healthcare industry because it includes a broad range of opportunities and is one of the today’s fastest-growing industries. I don’t have to limit myself to working in a hospital and taking care of patients.  Education and skills in Healthcare Management can help me find a job in many areas, including a doctor’s office, pharmaceutical companies, public health institutions, health insurance companies, and more. The Healthcare Management field can also lead to work in management consulting and government agencies. The wide range of opportunities available provides more flexibility for my career.”

As Olta and Illina transitioned into their new positions at AHN, they decided to share parting thoughts with us.  “The B&E Dept. encourages students to take advantage of learning opportunities, tools, and collaborations with other academic departments/disciplines and in the community, to develop their careers. ”.  Indeed, the Business and Entrepreneurship Department provides Graduate Assistants excellent opportunities to hone skills through operations and project management, social media management and marketing, budgeting, business process automation, and data management and visualization.

Dr. Rachel Chung reports that two of Chatham’s Management Information Systems students,  Kat Polaski, BA MIS ’18 and Natalie Ranft, BA PSY (MIS minor) ’19, designed and built a relational database to help support the Physician Assistant student placement coordination of this partnership, as part of the CMP283 Database Management Systems course they took in Spring 2017.  Kat and Natalie state, “In doing this project, we were able to successfully create a more efficient database for Allegheny Health Network and its Student Health Center. Using the information given to us by Allegheny Health Network, we set up a database which simplifies data collection. We implemented their business rules into the database. We also added a front-end application which allows the students to enter their information and documents online, which is then collected and saved electronically in the database. This had previously been an issue where this information had to be manually added. With these new implementations, Allegheny Health Network can be sure that the information gathered on their students is accurate and that they are qualified to be in the program. A data dictionary has also been provided for the client to reference as needed. In addition, we added suggestions for future developments with the database, and simple suggestions to maintain the database so that it may continue to work properly and efficiently.”.  Kat and Natalie are now working on technology/database internships during the summer, one for PNC Bank, and one for the Sacred Heart Hospital outside of Philly!

This is another example of Chatham’s Business & Entrepreneurship Department teaching highly sought-after skills that can be applied in project work during courses, giving students a competitive edge on the job market.  Congratulations to Kat and Natalie!


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