Leslie Akizuki, MHA Candidate, 2013
What brought you to the UW MHA Program?
I was especially attracted to the student-centered nature of the faculty and staff. In particular, the faculty are not only seasoned healthcare veterans, but they are also very approachable. I met a number of faculty members at Prospective Student Days, and it was evident to me that they have a wealth of healthcare experience and are genuinely motivated by their desire to pay it forward and help develop the next generation of healthcare leaders.
I was also drawn to the Program's strong focus on career development. The UW MHA Program provides students with resources beyond the classroom such as the internship program, mentorships, and professional development workshops. Many of the courses are project and presentation focused, which helps students develop tangible technical and interpersonal skills.
What was your undergraduate major?
I was a political science and international studies double major at the University of California, Irvine.
What work experience did you have before coming to the UW MHA Program?
I had two years of work experience prior to enrolling in the UW MHA Program. Most recently, I was assistant manager of a medical clinic that conducted internal medicine, psychological, neurological, and orthopedic disability evaluations for the State of California. I oversaw day-to-day operations and managed process improvement projects, for example an online scheduling pilot.
Prior to my time at the clinic, I interned at a consulting firm and also was an Ideas Exchange Group teaching assistant for the AIDS Fundamentals course at UC Irvine. I facilitated weekly discussion sections to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS through interactive workshops and group discussions.
What do you feel are the strengths of the UW MHA Program?
The program consciously assembles cohorts of students with diverse backgrounds. I have gained an invaluable amount of healthcare knowledge from my peers, who have experience with health information technology, policy, community health, clinical care, and research. The intimacy of the small cohort size helps to facilitate an environment where students learn from each other and view healthcare issues through different lenses.
Another strength of the UW MHA Program is its unique curriculum. Healthcare is a "team sport," and the team-based learning aspect of the Program promotes collaboration to prepare students for the complex nature of healthcare environments. The curriculum also emphasizes emotional intelligence as much as technical skill development. I feel this sets UW's MHA Program apart from others. In addition to teaching how to write a business plan and be an effective project manager, courses on organizational behavior and group dynamics reinforce the fact that healthcare is personal -- and there is a very human aspect to being an effective healthcare leader.
Are there any outstanding or unique experiences you would like to share regarding the UW MHA Program? Enthusiastic support from UW MHA alumni provided me with a platform to establish professional relationships and network. Graduates of this program are spread across the country, and their willingness to give career development assistance and quality advice has been extremely helpful. Whether I have reached out to them deliberately or bumped into them by chance, each conversation has been insightful and beneficial for my career development.
What goals do you plan to pursue for your career in health care management?
I am interested in pursuing a post-graduate administrative fellowship or consulting work, as these jobs will enable me to gain exposure working on projects across various segments of a healthcare organization. I am most interested in patient safety and quality improvement, and I am excited to contribute to improving health outcomes, care collaboration, and patient experiences wherever my career path takes me!