Graduate Kathleen Lama enhances deep knowledge of the business behind health care

Kathleen Lama sits on a chair in front of a window facing the camera

2017 graduate Kathleen Lama

Since receiving her bachelor’s degree in accounting from San Francisco State University, Kathleen Lama has been entrenched in the business side of the health care industry. In the past 20 years, Kathleen has worked as

  • Senior Accountant at Bristol-Myers Squibb
  • Senior Business Analyst and then Project Manager at McKesson, working on process improvement and process change, including implementing physician technology adoption programs and pharmaceutical REMS programs
  • Human Capital Consultant at Deloitte, leading process redesign, training and change management projects in the life sciences and health care division

For the past three years, Kathleen has been working as a Business Process Project Manager at Brown & Toland Physicians, where she is responsible for partnering with medical services and executive leadership to develop and implement programs within the Care Management team.

Two years into that position, Kathleen started looking into a graduate program that would keep her relevant in the ever-changing landscape of health care, hone her skills and make her more marketable for future opportunities.

But let’s hear Kathleen’s story straight from the 2017 graduate.

The Path to HPL

I wasn’t sure if I wanted an M.B.A. or an M.P.H.

My undergrad is in accounting and finance and I thought an M.B.A. would be more of the same of what I have been doing.

Public health was something I was interested in, but it’s not my strong suit or what I gravitate toward. Most of my career has been on the business side of health care and that is what I enjoy. I thought the HPL—compared to an M.P.H.—would give me a good balance of learning a lot about certain aspects of health care, but also being able to focus on the finance or economic side, which is what I do.

So I saw an ad for the HPL, went to the site and then enrollment adviser Mariam called me two days later. I was planning on applying a year later than I originally intended, but the stars aligned and it all worked out.

 

Taking the courses completely online was a big bonus for me, because the program is really intensive and it gave me the opportunity to do it while I was working a 40-hour-plus-a-week job.

 

Beauty of Online Learning

Taking the courses completely online was a big bonus for me, because the program is really intensive and it gave me the opportunity to do it while I was working a 40-hour-plus-a-week job. The year I was in the program, it was go to work, go home and study and not much else. Having it online gave me the opportunity to do that.

It was a bit of a challenge when it was time to connect live with classmates. Some things that I found interesting or unique was I had never used Google docs before and a lot of people were accustomed to using it. In the private sector or at Fortune 500 companies, nobody uses Google docs. So that was a new experience.

Also, needing to rely on others when it was a group assignment was challenging, but it gave me the opportunity to learn from others—their unique experiences were really helpful to me.

 

 

I apply what I learned in the program to my current work on almost a daily basis.

 

Real-Time Capstone Project

At that time, I was developing and implementing a transition-of-care program for Medicare Advantage patients. These were patients of our primary care physicians who were being discharged in San Francisco. So I had the opportunity in my daily life to work with clinicians to develop the program and the process, metrics and different measures. And I turned that into the capstone project.

I apply what I learned in the program to my current work on almost a daily basis. For me, it’s really understanding more about health economics and how to bring change into an organization of clinicians. And those are things that I work on every day.

Advice for Tomorrow’s Graduates

I think the best way to succeed is to have confidence in yourself and know that you can do it. I had been working for 20 years before I came to the program and knowing that this is something that you can do is really important to enhancing your career and marketability.


Are you ready to increase your marketability to positively affect change in our health care industry? Learn about how to apply to this innovative degree!