Master of Health Administration Students Reach Semi-Finals at Case Competition

October 28, 2010

A team of four Penn State Master of Health Administration (M.H.A.) students was among the semi-finalist teams competing in mid-October at the fifteenth-annual Everett V. Fox Student Case Competition in Memphis, Tennessee. The competition was sponsored by the National Association of Health Services Executives (NAHSE).

Schaeffer Charles, Gabriel Oshode, Latoya Tatum, and Joe Hwang competed at the event. Charles also competed in 2009 and served as this year’s team captain.

Charles says the case competition offered him and his teammates many rewards: “It provided us the opportunity to represent Penn State University (which we are very proud of); further develop our core leadership skills, including analytical thinking, financial skills, and self-confidence; and network with a wide range of health care professionals.”

He adds, “Being on the case team was a valuable lesson that allowed us to apply the knowledge that was acquired in the classroom to real-life situations. With help from the faculty and M.H.A. alumni, we have learned a tremendous amount and believe that we have developed a skill that we can take with us to our next job.”

image of Penn State MHA students

L-R: Gabriel Oshode, Joe Hwang, Latoya Tatum, and Schaeffer Charles

Faculty advisers include Dr. Deirdre McCaughey, Joe Dionisio, Richard Shurgalla, and Dr. Jonathan Clark; Dionisio and Shurgalla accompanied the team to Memphis.

Approximately twenty-five teams from across the United States competed, representing various graduate programs in health care administration. Students received their case on September 17, with approximately three weeks to prepare for the competition. Cases are derived from problems facing real health care organizations and are specifically based on circumstances at a particular organization.

Students are required to analyze and prepare recommendations, which require a thorough financial and SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis, problem recognition, a strategic plan, recommendations, and an execution/implementation plan to support the recommendation.

At the conference, teams present their plan in twenty minutes and answer ten minutes of questioning from a judging panel composed of health care leaders, industry experts, academics, and corporate sponsors.

This year, the Penn State M.H.A. team responded to a request-for-proposals for a full-service inpatient health care facility in east New Orleans, Louisiana. The team put together a proposal for the size, type, and location of a potential facility, and determined if they should renovate an existing facility or build a new facility. Competitors also had to determine the financial capacity to develop a facility and prepare pro formas of short- and long-term financial performance, as well as determine if the project would be in partnership with another organization.

This was a particularly difficult case given the lack of comprehensive services available to the residents of east New Orleans, the lack of infrastructure in the community, and the unique challenges resulting from Katrina and subsequent collateral damage.


Editors: For additional information, contact the College of Health and Human Development Office of College Relations at 814-865-3831 or