M.H.A. students place third in case competition

February 19, 2010

Three Penn State students in the Master of Health Administration program (M.H.A.), received third place in the annual Health Administration Case Competition hosted by the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) on February 11, 2010. In the competition, twenty-four teams of health administration students from universities across the country were challenged with developing solutions to the same real-world dilemma. This year, the competition centered on hospital and physician alignment.

The students, Kara Vass, Jeff Knorr, and Jess Havern, presented their solutions to a panel of judges that consisted of high-ranking executives from hospitals and health care systems across the country. This gave them an unprecedented chance for feedback on how they applied their knowledge of hospital administration. In addition, students were judged on their oral presentation skills and ability to discuss the reasoning behind their decision making. Havern says that the presentation was “nerve-racking, exciting, and intense.”

image of M.H.A. students at Case Competition

From left to right: Jeff Knorr, Quint Studer (author and speaker), Kara Vass, and Jessica Havern.

For their solution, the team devised a system for employing primary care physicians and contracting cardiologists through the hospital system, which they say was the first step in building a continuum of care for the hospital.
The Penn State team was given special praise on their oral presentation skills, their collegiality, and their professionalism.

“The students’ analysis of the case was superb, their presentation skills were remarkable, their time commitment and attention to detail was evident,” says Michael Meacham, associate professor of health policy and administration, who coached the students and accompanied them to the competition. “It was a remarkable day and evening.”

Meacham and Dr. Deirdre McCaughey, assistant professor of health policy and administration, advised the team during the weeks leading up to the competition.

All three students credit their success to the preparation they received through the M.H.A. curriculum and from faculty in the Department of Health Policy and Administration. “It’s really interesting to be in these competitive situations,” says Knorr, “because it lets us see how great our M.H.A. program is.” Knorr and Havern, both second-year M.H.A. students, had already gained experience with analyzing cases during their first year of the program. Vass, a first-year student in the program says that the experience has reinforced her academic and career goals.

This is the third time that Penn State students have participated in the competition, but the first time they have placed. The competition was sponsored by the UAB Health System.


Editors: For additional information, please contact the College of Health and Human Development Office of College Relations at 814-865-3831 or healthhd@psu.edu.