MHA alumni drive problem solving method

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																			April 6, 2015
MHA problem solving group
Full-time MHA students Jason Battaglia, Sumukh Sathnur and Philip Konkol rehearse their problem solving presentation.

Since the MHA program’s inception in 1946, “The Minnesota Way” of problem solving has been the signature of the MHA degree. It’s a time-tested method taught by a cadre of faculty and alumni volunteers. Full-time MHA students take courses throughout their studies and, more recently, executive MHA students engage in Problem Solving cases during on-campus sessions.

A timeless method

Problem Solving teaches students and graduates a discipline of critical thinking and skillful presentation. It is often said that Minnesota MHA graduates across the generations can identify one another from a common Problem Solving vocabulary and thought process. Indeed, while “The Minnesota Way” has been refined over the years, its original 14-step approach remains conceptually intact.

Faculty expertise

Industry leaders James A. Hamilton, John Sweetland ‘61, Bright Dornblaser ‘52 and John Westerman ‘60 taught students in the full-time program’s first five decades. More recently, Associate Professor Sandra Potthoff led the effort.

Today, Greg Hart ‘76, assisted by Justine Mishek ‘02, provides leadership for the three Problem Solving courses:

  • Principles of Problem Solving in Health Services Organizations, where students do case presentations and a group fieldwork project;
  • Clerkship, where students develop a report at their summer residency site, and
  • Advanced Problem Solving, a team-based fieldwork project completed in the second year.

Leaders leading future leaders

Greg Hart is a part-time senior lecturer for the MHA program and the course-accountable faculty for the three Problem Solving courses. “I am in awe of the commitment that our alums show in helping our students,” he remarks.

Hart notes that problem solving is, in many ways, the identity of the MHA Program. “It has withstood the test of time,” he says. “The success of the courses would not be possible without the time and commitment of alums in decades past, and that remains true today.”

“Earlier this year I sent out thirty emails asking alums to serve as summer clerkship faculty advisors. Within four hours I had more than twenty positive responses back. And many of these alums have served in this role for five years or longer.”

The Problem Solving courses are perhaps the single best example of MHA alumni giving back to the program.

Alumni-student engagement

Cari Worner '00
Cari Worner ’00, problem solving faculty advisor

One of the major themes of the new relationship between the MHA program and the MHA Alumni Association/Foundation is engagement. Dozens of alumni are engaged in helping students become expert problem solvers.

“It’s an invaluable tool,” says Cari Worner ‘00. Worner is president of Fairview laboratory service and has served as a problem solving faculty advisor for six years. She uses the problem solving method every day in her work.

“The experience helps alumni stay connected to the program and students establish relationships with alumni in the field.”

Beth Heinz ’08, vice president of operations at Regions Hospital, has recently become involved. “We value the ongoing relationship Regions has with the program, says Heinz.” “The student teams developed recommendations that we actually implemented.”

Honorary alum Geoff Kaufmann, CEO, American Red Cross North Central Blood Services Region, has long participated in the problem solving courses in a number of roles. “I love doing this and I love working with students,” Kaufmann says. “For me it’s about giving back a part of what we all ought to be doing in healthcare administration.”

No doubt, the next generation of problem solvers is in the good hands of the MHA program alumni.

Problem Solving Alumni Volunteers 2014-15

Principles of Problem Solving case faculty advisors

  • Christine Bent ‘94
  • Beth Heinz ‘08
  • Laura Kalland ‘05
  • Todd Koehler ‘09
  • Geoff Kaufmann (honorary)
  • Mark Nelson ‘05
  • Alison Page ‘96
  • Brian Rice ‘00
  • Cari Worner ‘00

Summer Clerkship faculty advisors

  • Scott Ash ‘97
  • Christine Bent ‘94
  • Jerry Birk ‘08
  • Jodi Capistrant ‘03
  • Mark Enger ‘76
  • Allison Fong ‘07
  • Joe Fong ‘01
  • Mick Gibbs ‘00
  • Joshua Halverson ‘99
  • Greg Hart ‘76
  • Corbett Jackson ‘07
  • Geoff Kauffmann (honorary)
  • Kate Klugherz ‘07
  • Amber Larson ‘05
  • Shannon Lorbiecki ‘89
  • Michelle Meadows ‘00
  • Justine Mishek ‘02
  • Donald Moore ‘92
  • Kristin Mullen ‘99
  • Jerry Nye ‘77
  • Jeremy Price ‘03
  • Steven Qu ‘08
  • John Reiling ‘75
  • Brian Rice ‘00
  • Deborah Schuhardt ‘89
  • Kim Simensen ‘81
  • Dan Steffen ‘06
  • Samual Stone ‘06
  • Ryan Tingey ‘10

Advanced Problem Solving fieldwork projects faculty advisors and preceptors

  • Ryan Armbruster ‘98
  • Carly Deer ‘02
  • Thomas Gilliam (staff)
  • Greg Hart ‘76
  • Tessa Kerby
  • Justine Mishek ‘02
  • Tom O’Connor ‘91
  • John Reiling ‘75
  • Mark Reitan ‘81
  • Carrie Terrell, MD
  • Craig Weinert, MD
  • Scott Wordelman
  • Daniel Zismer (faculty)

~Posted by Mona Rath

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