Healthcare Leadership

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After 16 years working as a cardiothoracic operating room nurse for Sutter Healthcare in San Francisco, Heidi Gigliotti ’02 picked the perfect time to return to Dominican to advance her career.

Gigliotti is balancing work and raising a family while earning her MBA with Concentration in Healthcare Leadership (HCL) in the Barowsky School of Business at a time when demand is growing for managers and executives with leadership skills specifically tailored for the healthcare industry.

The return on investment, she says, is worth the work. Combining an MBA with a background in nursing will create a perfect platform for Gigliotti to take her career to the next level in a field where six-figure salaries are the norm for many hospital and clinic executives, especially those with a master’s degree.

“There are a lot of opportunities that having my master’s degree will open for me,” Gigliotti says.

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As the baby-boom population ages, healthcare jobs will continue to be a strong growth sector in the Bay Area and across the U.S. Employment of healthcare executives and administrators is projected to grow 20 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2018, healthcare created 346,000 new jobs, up from 284,000 jobs in 2017.

Salaries also are rising, particularly in California. The median salary for healthcare administrators in California is about $118,000, with administrators in the 75th percentile earning an average of $150,696, according to the California Employment Development Department.

“Right now, there is a lack of high-quality leadership to meet the changing needs in the healthcare field.”  — James McManus, Chief Operating Officer, Marin General Hospital

Returning to Dominican to earn her master’s was not an easy decision for Gigliotti, who balances work with raising three children. She values the MBA program’s flexibility, which is making it possible to earn an MBA in two years by attending classes for eight hours every other Saturday.

The support and encouragement offered by her Dominican faculty mentors, combined with the camaraderie from fellow students, have kept her motivated and focused.

“It’s a tightknit community and it’s just a really homey feeling here,” she says.

The skills Gigliotti developed as a nurse — including leadership, empathy, flexibility, critical thinking, and teamwork — align well with the MBA’s coursework focused on the economics, organizational dynamics, strategic planning, and technology necessary for healthcare systems to operate.

“We need to attract people to the field who want to operate differently than we have in the past. And we need universities to shape their thinking, so they to come in prepared to lead with those new perspectives already a part of their mindset. Having the right people steering the ship is critical to transforming the system.” — Shirin Vakharia, Program Director, Health and Aging, Marin Community Foundation.

Most healthcare executives and administrators have at least a bachelor’s degree before entering the field; however, master’s degrees are becoming more common, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Faculty Experts bring Industry Insight

Developed with input from healthcare industry experts, the Dominican MBA HCL combines functional areas of business– accounting, finance, marketing, and management—with courses in healthcare economics, policies, laws and regulations, analytics, and informatics.

Many of the faculty come from within the industry, bringing critical insight to the coursework.

  • Michael Skolnik, principal of Value Based Health Care Institute, is teaching healthcare economics. His San Francisco-based consulting company focused on managed care, health plan operations, healthcare practice management, health systems, and wellness programs for mid and large-scale clients.
  • Laura Brotherton has more than 20 years’ experience uncovering process, contract, practice inefficiencies, and opportunities in the healthcare industry. She leverages big data analytics to inform her decision making. At Dominican she is teaching healthcare analysis.
  • Tim Schulze, whose background includes researching and resolving complex escalations affecting client and patient satisfaction teaches healthcare policies, laws, and regulations.

Advancing Careers across the Healthcare Sector

Mark Bottini, a HealthCare Practice Manager at a private sleep clinic, realizes that being equipped with an MBA will help him remain competitive in the rapidly changing healthcare sector.

“I have seen that demand for high-level educated healthcare workers is becoming more relevant,” he says. “I realized that I needed to lift the level of my education and develop more credibility.”

“What we really need is a generation of leaders who can look at the challenges and complexities of our healthcare system with a holistic viewpoint.” — Dr. Matt Willis, Public Health Officer, Marin County Health and Human Services. 

The MBA HCL will advance careers for a wide range of healthcare professionals, including lab managers, nurses, biotech and pharmacy professionals, medical practice managers, hospital administrators, and entrepreneurs building their own practices, says Michael Skolnik, an instructor in the HCL program and CEO of the Value Based Healthcare Institute.

The program also suits full-time graduate students with an interest in healthcare and a desire for an MBA curriculum that equips students with the ability to apply principles of sustainability, ethics, and social responsibility to business operations.

“The courses can get you to think like a healthcare professional who is going to make change and be the future of where healthcare needs to go,” Skolnik says.

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