An interview with Dr. Mary Ann Hart, MHA Program Director
Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
I am a registered nurse who started my career working in a hospital as a staff nurse. Gradually, I moved up the ladder into management positions, while engaging in my favorite hobby outside of work – politics! After working on some local political campaigns, I became a legislative aide to a Massachusetts State Senator, whose focus was on health care policy. Eventually, I became the Director of the Office of Health Policy under Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, and then an Assistant Commissioner of Community Health at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. During this time, I worked with health care organizations and facilities on a variety of issues related to health care delivery, financing, and reform. I also sat on the Board of Trustees for a major Massachusetts Harvard-affiliated teaching hospital and health care system for 15 years. For the past 25 years, I have been a registered lobbyist representing non-profit public health and health care organizations before Massachusetts state government. Since 2009, I have been the Program Director for the Graduate Program in Health Administration.
Why did you choose to move into the health administration filed and continue further work and research in this area?
My early experience as a nurse working in health care organizations and my interest in health policy led me to health care administration. I saw how important it was to manage both the clinical aspects of care and the health policy developments impacting care and financing.
Tell us about the background of students you see come through your program. Are you seeing more students coming in with experience or non-traditional career changers coming from other fields?
We see both. That’s what is unique about our program. You do not have to have health care experience to be admitted, and so we have a lot of people changing careers, and well as students already in health care who wish to advance their careers. For students without health care management experience, a 100-hour field experience, taken at the end of the program, gives them an opportunity to work in a health administration setting and make contact with prospective employers.
What would you say is the most rewarding aspects a career in Health Administration?
I always say, it’s a career where you can “do good” and be compensated well for it, especially after moving a few notches up the career ladder. It’s very satisfying to be in the health care field working with patients and families and with a great group of dedicated colleagues, who share a higher purpose to serve others.
What is one piece of advice you’d give to an aspiring health administrator?
Get your master’s degree and job experience and look for opportunities for advancement in health care systems. Once you get your foot in the door to a health care system, you can advance more easily, since they tend to give priority to current employees before outside applicants.
“Keep in mind that health care systems are not just hospitals, they are networks that include a whole range of health care providers – like outpatient facilities, home care and long-term care services, community health centers, and public health programs.”
What do you feel are the most pressing issues in health administration today, and how does the Regis program prepare graduates to address these issues?
Health administrators need to be able to manage health care as well as understand the bigger policy issues that affect the health care delivery and financing. Health policies are constantly changing and affecting organizations, managers, and patients. Our program prepares students for both by offering a mix of policy and management courses in its curriculum.
Can you identify new opportunities in health administration or growing areas of expertise that students can look to take advantage of?
There are almost too many to list! Health care is always expanding, and it is one of the fastest growing industries. It appears to be more recession-proof than most other industries, with steady job-growth. Areas to watch are health informatics, telehealth, public health, long-term care, and behavioral health.