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The ‘Great Resignation’ fuels career change

by Monica Smith

Feb 15, 2022, 12:00 PM.

A look at how four FIU graduates are switching their professional paths with a master’s degree in health services administration.

With almost three years of influx because of the pandemic, economic impacts and remote work, the “Great Resignation” has created a massive amount of movement in most business sectors. People are moving across the country to be closer to family, others are re-evaluating their need to commute, and many are heading back to school to change careers.

The following four students are creating new paths with their Master of Health Services Administration degrees. What we can learn from them is that education can help you combine passion with purpose toward the career you want.

From restaurant to administration

Macha Acquaviva
Macha Acquaviva

For Macha Acquaviva ’20, the choice to go back to school was empowering. She wanted to change careers for some time and made the decision to enter the healthcare arena to follow her interest.

“I didn’t want to be in the clinical part of healthcare. But being in the restaurant service industry, I wanted to do something to build on my customer service experience with helping people.”

Acquaviva learned about the convenience of the 100 percent online health services administration master’s degree and knew it would work well with her shift work at the restaurant.

“Something for sure the healthcare system in the U.S. needs is improvement, but it will take time. You can make things better with health services administration. That is what interests me and why I pursued this degree,” she offers.

What really stood out for her in her program was how the patient should always be the number-one focus. Being in the administration part, professionals in healthcare sometimes forget that, she notes.

“The U.S. healthcare system is different from the French system, where I originally come from. In France, it is a universal healthcare system and the U.S. is a different experience than what I’m used to. The health services industry is a moneymaker in the U.S. 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.”

Navy dentist to own practice

Dr. Raymond Santa-Cruz
Dr. Raymond Santa-Cruz

Dr. Raymond Santa-Cruz ’20, chose the online MHSA so he could continue to serve in the Navy reserves. At the time, he was knee-deep in starting his own dental practice, Cruzin Dental .

“To me, there’s value in the degree because as dental organizations merge, there is a need for administrative and managerial skills. Having a health services administration master’s degree as well as a professional dental degree makes me more marketable,” he explains.

Any concerns he had about the program and support were quickly dispelled once he started his program.

“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 affirms.

Moving to the administrative side

Kayla Nasser
Kayla Nasser

Kayla Nasser ’20 used to work for Baptist Health as a patient transporter, then secured a position in the corporate offices, but she made a move to Tallahassee with her husband and obtained a new position with the Florida Department of Health as a case investigator for COVID-19.

“As a patient transporter in a hospital, I loved the patient-to-patient contact, but it was something I wasn’t interested in pursuing. When I got a position at Baptist in the corporate office, I realized that was exactly what I wanted to do—I wanted to be on the administrative side of care,” says Nasser. “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.”

In her current position with the Florida Department of Health, Nasser calls patients who have tested positive with COVID-19.

“The data I collect helps the state trace down every potential exposure to help get control of the virus,” she states. “Health services administration can help facilities with COVID-19 in the way that things are being managed on the corporate side.”

Bridging finance and healthcare

Shahid Ullah
Shahid Ullah


Shahid Ullah ’18, originally from Pakistan, wanted to find a way to use his background in accounting within the healthcare industry. 

“I had my undergrad in finance from Pakistan. I was an international student when I moved here. I am also the first of my family in the U.S.,” he says.

While he completed his degree before the pandemic, the hybrid MHSA program prepared him for what he would face in the months to come. Upon finishing his internship arranged by FIU with John Knox Village, he was hired as a senior accountant and he worked tirelessly to keep the retirement community safe and financially stable. 

“The degree covers a very broad spectrum from leadership to operations management to creative thinking,” discusses Ullah. “I still remember I had a class with professor Kellen Hassell—one of the assignments was how to come up with a correction plan with some of the nursing homes. This covered medication, elders’ rights and more. I also learned how to use incident reports, which is big in nursing homes and this could be related to falls, elders’ rights, etc.”

What he liked about the program was that it challenged students to find their own solutions through business plans, proposals and research. 

“There were so many questions regarding health services administration as a career. It can give you anxiety. In health services administration, it is very broad. You could go from billing to hands-on care,” he states.

Whether you’re just starting your program or well in it, there are myriad of options for employment with a Master of Health Services Administration. The degree can be the gamechanger you need to be able to enter your next career. Ullah was recently promoted to assistant controller. His advice to prospective students is simple: don’t worry about the job market—the jobs are there.

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