The degree is intended for today’s leaders in a new health care environment.
by Trisha Spence
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Topics: Neeley School of Business
by Trisha Spence
William “Bill” Cron’s light-bulb moment came while he sat in a boardroom. His marketing expertise connected him with health care companies. Once he saw the challenges they faced, it sparked the idea for a new graduate program in TCU’s Neeley School of Business.
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“Health care is arguably the second largest sector in Dallas-Fort Worth,” said Cron, the J. Vaughn and Evelyne H. Wilson Professor in Business. “There’s a lot of opportunity for the MBA to be employed in this area.”
Launching a Master of Business Administration program tailored for the health care industry, TCU admitted its first class of 12 graduate students in June.
“We wanted to promote it as a health care MBA rather than hide it as a concentration,” said Cron, who is also the business school’s deputy for faculty research and former senior associate dean for graduate programs. “We wanted the target to be people working in health care, broadly defined.”
Prospective students were required to have at least three years of work experience. “Many of them are already in health care as middle management,” said Anne Rooney, executive director of graduate programs at the business school.
“They are priming themselves for executive-level positions and expanding their tool kit,” Rooney said. “They are sharpening the saw on their leadership capabilities as well. It’s not just about technical tools. It’s about leadership development.”
Among the program’s inaugural class are physicians and nurses, as well as people who work in health-related businesses. “You’ve got a variety of different perspectives,” said Kelli Kilpatrick, director of graduate evening programs at the business school.
It’s not just about technical tools. It’s about leadership development.Anne Rooney, executive director of graduate programs at TCU's Neeley School of Business
“The MBA is now a needed set of skills because of the ever-changing landscape of health care,” Kilpatrick said. “The business of health care is changing. I think the operative word there is that it’s now the business of health care. [The degree] is intended for today’s leaders in a new health care environment.”
For Cron, linking the university to the expanding health care market was an important consideration. “TCU is 84 percent undergraduate, so most of the outside world sees TCU as an undergraduate institution,” he said. “[The MBA] pinpoints our graduate reputation in health care, so there’s a tipping point in health care to think of TCU as a graduate institution. I think that’s important to TCU.”
In the specialized graduate program, the health care focus includes courses that explore current business issues and practices unique to the industry, with classes such as health care in the U.S., health care legal aspects, and health care IT and data analytics.
“You’ve got to know the history to have a good understanding of where we’ve been and where we are today,” Cron said. “Then your class can discuss what are the benefits, what are the risks associated. [It is] forward-looking.”
The old solutions don’t fit the new paradigm.Bill Cron, the J. Vaughn and Evelyne H. Wilson Professor in Business
To help new graduate students understand the U.S. health care system, for example, a graduate course might start with a look at the Stabilization Act of 1942, which controlled wages to prevent inflation. To retain and attract employees, businesses started offering fringe benefits such as health insurance.
Cron said the business school’s job is to help new graduate students succeed in an evolving industry when issues and opportunities arise. “The old solutions and the experience in the industry alone will not prepare you for those situations,” he said. “The old solutions don’t fit the new paradigm.”
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