Pioneering a Model for Executive Education: Georgetown University’s Executive Master’s Degree in Health Systems Administration

September 7, 2017

In the current health care environment, our nation requires individuals with insight, skill, and vision who can lead strategic and innovative initiatives to ensure health care access, excellence, and efficiency on behalf of all patients. Toward this end, Georgetown University’s School of Nursing and Health Studies contracted with Atlas Research to plan and help initiate a new blended online and on-campus Executive Master of Science degree program in Health Systems Administration (EMHSA) to provide mid-career health care professionals the strategic perspectives, knowledge, and capabilities required to assume executive leadership roles across the health care sector.

Now in its third year, the EMHSA program is growing as its reputation for excellence in developing health care leaders has become known. On May 20, 2017, the program graduated its inaugural cohort of 15 students. After 22 months of attending online classes and participating in four in-person intensives sessions, the students received their Master of Science degrees. As the inaugural cohort, the students dedicated extensive time not only completing their coursework, but also providing extra feedback to EMHSA faculty and the Atlas team to ensure the program met its goals and to identify opportunities for improvement.

With the first EMHSA graduates on their way to new leadership roles, the EMHSA welcomed its third cohort, the incoming Class of 2019, during an on-campus intensive session in August. These 23 students arrived from diverse health care backgrounds and settings around the country excited to begin their own leadership journeys in health care. The program provides them two years of engaging, interactive, and dynamic learning led by a faculty of accomplished, successful health care practitioner-leaders. The faculty challenge and stretch students’ understanding and views while they build executive leadership abilities and high levels of proficiency in key health systems administrative competencies.

Atlas’ multi-year contract planning, initiating, and managing this important blended learning program at Georgetown University demonstrates the firm’s full-spectrum curriculum development and training capacity: from instructional design to production to delivery, including via online and in-person/classroom venues. In providing its services to Georgetown, Atlas leverages all phases of the ADDIE process. This includes analyzing the need for the program and defining its scope; establishing the overall curriculum; designing the courses; developing the materials for a variety of media; supporting instructors and students during implementation; and conducting formative and summative evaluation of the program impact.

Atlas’ instructional designers work with EMHSA faculty to design lesson plans appropriate for the delivery modality and develop pertinent assessment strategies, with emphasis on higher-level Bloom’s thinking, experiential learning, and problem-based learning. Atlas has also developed Kirkpatrick program evaluation strategies and associated instruments to assess the short-term and long-term value to the students, graduates, and health care organizations that employ them.

In addition to these ADDIE services, Atlas provides the Georgetown EMHSA program extensive management support in strategic communications, marketing, student and instructor recruitment, and overall program administration. The team lends valuable support in obtaining and maintaining accreditation of the program by the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education.

“The Atlas team has delivered a superior product and has been extremely responsive and agile to university changes not foreseen at the outset of the contract,” said Dr. Robert Carr, director of the EMHSA program at Georgetown. “They provide superb subject matter expertise in instructional design, training delivery, and evaluation.”