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Online learning removes barriers to education, helps improve industry

by Monica Smith

Sep 29, 2020, 12:00 PM.

Current health services administration students give their personal reasons for choosing the online format and the impact they hope to have with their degree.

Everyone has their reasons for why they do things. For three master of health services administration students, online learning leveled the field and removed the barriers to education present in their own lives. At the same time, all three are determined to help improve the health services administration industry as they each found value in pursuing an advanced degree.

Career change

Macha Acquaviva
Macha Acquaviva

Macha Acquaviva needed a change from her career in the restaurant industry. She loved serving patrons but wanted to build on her customer service experience with something more fulfilling, she said. Always interested in the U.S. health care system, Acquaviva, wanted her career change to be something where she could help people. She just had to figure out a way to make it work for her varied restaurant schedule and salary.

“Online was really convenient for me. I work full time. It’s easy to manage your schedule. I also wanted to go to a public university because I wanted an affordable option,” said Acquaviva.

Growing U.S. industry

Originally from France, Acquaviva admitted that she moved to America because of a relationship. Her pivotal year was 2017. It’s the year she became a U.S. citizen and went back to school for her master’s degree. The U.S. health care system intrigued her because of how different it is from the French system.

“It’s a field that is interesting, growing, dynamic, and in a constant state of change. You have to adjust to needs, and the master of health services administration program prepares you for that, completely online,” explained Acquaviva.

Stay at home

Raymond Santa-Cruz
Raymond Santa-Cruz

Like Acquaviva, Raymond Santa-Cruz, a dentist, wanted the freedom to continue working. In New Port Richey, FL, he was starting his practice and wanted to continue serving in the Navy reserves. Online learning was the only way to return to school—moving to Miami was not an option.

“I love that fact that it went to a completely online format so I could finish my health services administration degree that I started a decade and a half ago before I became a dentist,” he said. “You do get good professor or academic support with the online program and you don’t feel like you’re lost or just a number. It is pretty interactive,” he affirmed. 

Anticipating a move

Kayla Nasser
Kayla Nasser

Kayla Nasser earned her bachelor’s degree in health services administration from FIU in 2018. As a patient transporter working for Baptist Health, she knew she liked the health care industry, but not the clinical side. When a promotion to the corporate office came, she knew it was where she was meant to be.

“Because of my job, I wanted to pursue my master’s degree in health services administration. I thought I was in the perfect place to put my studies to the test in the real world,” stated Nasser. The online format allowed her to work and go to school on her own time.

Shortly after, Nasser got married and her husband’s job transferred from Miami to Georgia. She would have to leave Florida but was thankful she made the choice to pursue her master’s degree fully online. It made the move easier.

Currently, Nasser works remotely with the Florida Department of Health as a COVID-19 case investigator.

The value of the degree

Nasser feels the degree will offer her the skills needed to help manage today’s health services. In light of her current position as a COVID-19 case investigator, she sees the administrative and managerial skills as the key to helping slow the spread of COVID-19 and saving lives.

Santa-Cruz looks at the degree as a stepping-stone to help his marketability as he builds his dental practice. He foresees a day where his business may be part of a larger dental group.

“To me, there’s value in the degree because as dental organizations merge, there is a need for administrative and managerial skills,” he underscored.

What stands out in the program for Acquaviva is how the patient is always the No. 1 focus. Administrators can sometimes forget that, offered Acquaviva who believes the U.S. health care system needs improvement.

“You can make things better with health services administration. That is what interests me and why I pursued this degree,” she added.

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