Health Care UST MBA
Meet Katie Penson
I began my career in retail management, but the birth of my second son changed my life completely. He decided to come into the world 15 weeks early, throwing us into a world of hospitals, doctors, nurses and the complicated critical and chronic health care needs of our child.
When my son was old enough to be left under another’s care, I knew that my professional life would never be the same. I realized that the hospital, doctors and especially the nurses had given us our son, and I wanted a way to pay back what had been given to us. The best way that I could do this was to join them, and this is when I decided to go back to school and become a nurse.
Nursing was the most natural career choice I had made. Yet once I felt I was beginning to plateau, I looked for another opportunity to explore career paths in nursing. My new job working insurance claims and reviewing medical records was challenging at first, providing me with new insight to the business of health care and what goes on financially behind the scenes. But I realized very quickly that I had lost the camaraderie and passion that I felt at the hospital. I decided to return to the hospital in a management position.
When I decided it was time to go back to school for my master's degree, I first started a nursing leadership program, but found the curriculum was not as quantitative or rigorous as I wanted. I finally chose the Health Care UST MBA program because of my faith in St. Thomas (where I earned my undergraduate degree) and my desire to think more broadly about health care leadership. Nurses are naturally geared towards the best practice of care, but do not always see the part they play in the success of the larger system of care. To improve the system, you need to think “outside the nursing box” and understand how finance, quality, operational efficiencies and other business concepts can be applied to maximize value in the system. It is less about having the right answers and more about asking the right questions.
My instructors and peers in the Health Care UST MBA were the biggest influence of the program. Content is fairly easy to come by, but the experience of connecting with a group of industry colleagues with whom you can share ideas, challenge assumptions and gain different perspectives is invaluable. They become your professional base, not only during the program, but into the future as well.
My hope is to continue to work and grow in my leadership position and bring the passion and professionalism that I have from the bedside to the boardroom.