Focus, Health Care, and Higher Education

Spectrum Health, GVSU create executive MBA program

Spectrum is paying for development of the course, which is for Spectrum employees only.

October 18, 2013
| By Pete Daly |
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Grand Valley State University’s Seidman College of Business and Spectrum Health System in Grand Rapids are working together to develop what they call a “unique” Master of Business Administration program exclusively for Spectrum employees, according to a joint announcement from both organizations.

The announcement states the new MBA program will help Spectrum Health better prepare its leaders as it plans for a future built around community, value, quality and sustainability. Called the Health Care Executive MBA and “designed specifically for Spectrum Health leaders,” participants in the 22-month EMBA program will be clinical and administrative employees within Spectrum Health.

Susan Krieger, a spokesperson for Spectrum, said Spectrum is paying GVSU to develop the EMBA, but neither GVSU nor Spectrum could provide the cost figures because it is still in development.

Mary Eilleen Lyon, associate vice president of GVSU News and Information Services, said this is the first time the university has created such a specialized program for a sole business or institutional entity. She said the examples used and projects assigned will apply specifically to Spectrum’s environment and needs, and the course will “largely overlap what is taught in Grand Valley’s other programs, but professors will include courses pertinent to the health care industry, such as health care law.”

Spectrum also will pay the tuition for its employees in the program. GVSU fees for a master’s degree program for a Michigan resident range from $541 to $591 per credit hour.

“Spectrum Health must explore and create opportunities that will provide a smooth leadership transition throughout this decade,” said Richard C. Breon, president/CEO of Spectrum Health. “We are very pleased that Grand Valley State University has been willing to develop an MBA program specifically designed for our integrated health system during a very challenging time in a changing industry.”

By “challenging,” Breon is referring to the mergers in health care taking place across the nation, as health care organizations work to control spiraling costs and be more efficient. The Affordable Care Act also is bringing many previously uninsured individuals into the health care arena because regular health care services throughout a person’s life will help reduce the ultimate high cost of diseases that have gone untreated.

GVSU noted that to provide enhanced experiences for MBA and undergraduate students, the university opened the L. William Seidman Center this summer in downtown Grand Rapids to house the Seidman College. The university said the new health executive MBA program in development with Spectrum Health is a reflection of GVSU’s commitment to flexibility and responsiveness to community needs.

“Grand Valley State University applauds Spectrum Health’s recognition for ongoing learning and executive development,” GVSU President Thomas J. Haas said. “All sectors of the economy face fast-changing circumstances that require innovation. Grand Valley’s agility and commitment to quality are essential components of our key community partnerships. We embrace this opportunity that will enhance Spectrum Health, Grand Valley and ultimately the larger region both institutions serve.”

Development of the curriculum will be a collaborative process between Grand Valley faculty and Spectrum Health administrators. The curriculum will apply core MBA principles with relevant health care challenges that integrated health systems face. Classes will be conducted in a multifaceted approach with a combination of classroom, virtual and applied learning sessions.

Breon said Spectrum Health employees have many opportunities for professional advancement and growth, including the Spectrum Health University launched last year. SH|U is the organization’s corporate training and development function that provides non-clinical, centralized learning experiences for executives, physicians and employees.

Historically, the various entities that comprise Spectrum Health have handled employee training and development in different ways. The Spectrum organization wanted one development function under SH|U to provide consistency, aligned clearly with organizational goals and eliminating redundancy.

Since its establishment in 1997, Spectrum Health has grown into an integrated health system with hospitals in Greater Grand Rapids and community hospitals in Big Rapids, Fremont, Greenville, Lakeview, Ludington, Reed City and Zeeland. It is the largest not-for-profit health care system in West Michigan and the largest employer, with 20,800. The payroll and employee benefits totaled more than $1.1 billion in FY2012.

Lody Zwarensteyn, president of the Alliance for Health, said it is common for health care institutions to cover the cost of its employees furthering their educations. He said if an educational program was exclusive to one organization, the college or university offering it might want to consider extending the program to other students, as well, unless all the classes were necessarily being held at a sponsoring health care organization’s facilities.

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