Cornerstone offers health care MBA

October 8, 2010
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Cornerstone University is entering the health care MBA market, with the first set of students possibly starting classes in February.

The new degree will include a required trip abroad to develop a wider understanding of health care and, like other programs at the conservative campus, will be taught from a Christian viewpoint, Dean of Professional and Graduate Studies Sandra Upton said.

“Those four things — the whole Christian emphasis, the leadership development, the business acumen, the cultural intelligence and that whole global piece — we think, combined, really make our program very distinct from anything else that’s being offered in the community,” Upton said.

“It’s obviously no secret to anyone what’s happening in health care here in Grand Rapids,” Upton said. “We saw the growth, but we were being very thoughtful and strategic about what that means for Cornerstone. What’s our niche?”

Cornerstone officials conducted market studies and focus groups to hone in on the types of classes that will be included in the health care master of business administration degree, she said.

“They were extremely helpful in giving us some very clear direction around what the needs are in health care. Specifically, what they said to us was that ‘We don’t need any more clinicians. We’ve got enough people who have the technical knowledge. We need leaders. We need people that have a business acumen. Because the market is not only growing, it’s becoming more diverse, more global, we need people that have what we call cultural intelligence.’”

Upton said the university is hoping to attract 14 to 20 students to launch the first cohort. The cost of the 39-credit hour program is $415 per credit hour, putting the cost at just more than $16,000.

Classes will meet four hours weekly, on the same day of the week, for the program’s 18-month duration, she said. Aimed at working adults, the accelerated classes will meet in the evenings.

“We start programs as we get a full cohort together,” she added. “Our students are working professionals and they’ve got a life, also — a family. The courses are always the same night. So when you start the program and you start on a Tuesday night, you can be guaranteed that for the entire 18 months, you’re always going to meet on Tuesday nights, all of your classes, in that same room.”

Classes include topics such as health care finance, patient safety, quality and outcomes management, and international business practices in health care.

Upton said that while details are still being worked out, health care MBA students are likely to spend their international experience in Europe. Other MBA students may choose from Europe, South Africa or China.

Chad Tuttle, executive director of Sunset Association, which operates residential-setting nursing homes and in-home care for senior citizens in Kent and Ottawa counties, is an adjunct professor at Cornerstone and plans to teach in the new program.

“We took our program with core classes on marketing, management and finance, modeling every class toward the health care industry, then including four very specific courses exclusively on the health care industry,” Tuttle explained.

Tuttle said he thinks Cornerstone’s health care MBA will be especially helpful for clinical professionals who are seeking the business background that their undergraduate degrees did not cover.

“The feedback was loud and clear from focus groups: A bachelor’s in health care isn’t needed. We need a master’s level education building on real world experience.”

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