University of Vermont

The College of Arts and Sciences

Master's Students Hone Their Studies, Find Careers with Healthcare Management Certificate

Erin Creley
Alumna Erin Creley '13, who received her certificate in health care management and an MBA from UVM this year, says the certificate curriculum's focus on health care reform is of particular value to the work she's doing today at Vermont Collaborative Care.

Poised to leaved her career path in healthcare management in 2011, Erin Creley '13 began a master's degree in business administration at UVM, a step that would help her transition to a new industry. As part of that program's coursework, though, she enrolled in Professor Christopher Jones' "Global Health Economics" course. "I thought it was to keep my health care skills and knowledge up to date as a back-up plan,” Creley says. “At the first class, however, my love and deep interest for helping people through health care was reignited, and within the first two weeks, I began the application process for the UVM Health Care Management Certificate,” a program she completed in two years concurrently with her MBA.

Today, Creley is a compliance coordinator at Vermont Collaborative Care (VCC), an organization established in the spring of 2013 to integrate Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont and the Brattleboro Retreat mental health management and substance abuse services with traditional medical care. Jointly owned by the two non-profits, VCC began providing care management services for about 200,000 Vermonters in July, 2013. Creley’s role is to ensure that the policies and procedures of VCC are in compliance with state and national accreditation standards and to coordinate the appeal or denied claim process.

As the health insurance field is being transformed by the national and state level healthcare reform efforts, knowledge of how reform will affect business is imperative in healthcare careers. “While I am still learning on the job about health insurance accreditation and appeals, the certificate prepared me for how reform will affect the future of health care,” Creley says.

The UVM Health Care Management (HCM) program provides the tools and strategies mangers and leaders require to navigate the rapidly changing health care environment. Certificate courses range from "Biomedical Informatics" to "Financial Analysis and Decision-Making," and Creley found the integration of health care reform woven into every class to be invaluable.

“I am also incredibly grateful that the certificate dovetailed so nicely with the UVM MBA program as it allowed me to complete both programs in two years," she says. "Throughout those two years, my certificate courses were often the highlight of my semester. Each professor brought not only their knowledge but their experiences in the field, which greatly enriched the coursework,” Creley says.

Management in the public health arena

For health care management certificate candidate Brady Hoffman, experienced professors have also been a strength of the program. Hoffman points to his "Public Health and Health Policy" course, taught by Dr. Jan Carney, professor and associate dean of public health and former Vermont commissioner of health care. Discussions in that class surrounding state obesity, alcohol, and tobacco programs, Hoffman says, have been invaluable. He also lauds Catherine Hamilton, vice president of strategic planning at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont, for her inclusion of multiple health care professionals in her health care management course, "Strategic Planning in Healthcare."

For his part, Hoffman has known for some time that his career path would follow the health care management trajectory. As an undergraduate at the University of Utah, he studied health education and promotion. After several years of working in the U.S., Brady was interested in applying his education directly to the field of international health and joined the Peace Corps in Uganda.

“I really learned the value of public service and public health while in Uganda,” Hoffman says. “I saw how each complements the other and was inspired to continue my education to apply organizational behavior to the health care setting.”

Upon returning home to Middlebury, Vt. from his Peace Corps experience, Hoffman enrolled at UVM to pursue simultaneously a master's degree in public administration and a certificate in health care management — an exact match for his combination of career interests.

“I find HCM is great at providing the resources that link my public administration candidacy directly to public health and health policy,” Hoffman reflects after his first year. To fit the certificate into the master’s candidacy, he is staying ahead with UVM Summer University and completing both programs in two years.

What's on the agenda after graduation for Hoffman? “I aim to work with international health agencies and organizations furthering healthy lifestyles among developing populations," he says. "I plan to work with hospitals and governments on developing quality management techniques for hospital leadership in rural and developing hospitals." It's a clear plan for the future -- one grown from his Peace Corps experience and refined by his master's and certificate programs.