South Florida Hospital News
Tuesday November 24, 2020
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November 2020 - Volume 17 - Issue 5
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FAU: Helping to Advance Careers in Today's Competitive Marketplace

More than 1,400 working professionals choose FAU Executive Education each year when seeking to earn their advanced degrees while balancing life and career demands.

“We understand ambitious professionals expect high-quality education with flexible schedules and offer several degrees in convenient formats (weekend, evening and online courses): Executive and Online Master of Health Administration, Executive MBA, Professional MBA, MBA in Sport Management, Online MBA, Master of Science in Finance, Master of Accounting, Master of Tax, and our Executive Ph.D.,” says Rudy Molinet, RN, MPH, Adjunct Professor of Florida Atlantic University, Executive Education, College of Business. “All our degree programs are cohort structured encouraging camaraderie and connections that become long-lasting personal and professional relationships.”
 
Last year, FAU’s College of Business launched its Executive Ph.D. in Business Administration—the highest degree attainable in business— becoming one of the few AACSB-accredited business schools in the U.S. and the first in Florida to offer a business Ph.D. in business in the executive format. Its inaugural cohort of twenty-two includes medical professionals, entrepreneurs, published authors, CFOs and CEOs with over 150 years of combined business experience. This fall, the school welcomed its second Ph.D. class of twenty-two students.
 
“For professionals across all industries—from health care workers, business owners to senior executives—who want to accelerate career growth, improve performance and drive innovation in particular business areas, FAU Executive Education also offers professional development courses and seminars, as well as certificate, corporate, and customized training programs,” says Molinet.
 
A diverse selection of academic programs
With more than 60 programs, FAU Executive Education has the most diversified selection of national and international certification programs in South Florida. Each year, over 2,000 individuals look to FAU to develop a specialized skillset, gain deeper understanding of a business function, better their work performance, or diversify their expertise. Conveniently delivered through online, evening, weekend or boot camp formats, courses are taught by subject matter experts who impart immediate and relevant knowledge helping to improve participant marketability.
 
“Our certified Medical Business Management programs cover in-demand skills: legal, regulatory, and compliance practices, medical office operations, anatomy, terminology, billing and coding,” says Molinet.
 
FAU Executive Education is a recognized leader of Professional Development programs ranking No. 1 in both Florida and the Southeast U.S. and No. 11 nationally and No. 59 globally in the Financial Times Executive Rankings. The Financial Times ranks the top 75 universities around the world; in this year’s rankings, only 15 percent are U.S. schools. These rankings are determined by student feedback, course design, faculty, teaching methods and facilities. FAU also ranked No. 4 in the world for female participants in Executive Education and No. 8 in the U.S. for quality of participants.
 
Advantages of the healthcare-related programs
At FAU, its Executive Master in Healthcare Administration (EMHA) program focuses on student success both academically and in the real-world. For the past three semesters, they’ve encouraged new EMHA students to become involved with and join the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) by FAU paying for their student dues.
 
“Covering the membership costs enables our students to interact and network with healthcare leaders in their communities leading to relationships that help them throughout their whole career,” says Molinet. “We also encourage our students to transition to full ACHE membership as soon as they are eligible, so they can pursue their board certification in healthcare administration by earning the FACHE credential. Our EMHA program is offered online and in person, so students from all over the country can benefit. We recently added the National Association of Health Service Executives (NAHSE) to the professional organizations that our students will be working with.”
 
In addition, FAU instituted an EMHA Leadership Bootcamp that Molinet teaches to bring in speakers from industry to discuss and teach students about current issues in healthcare. This class has been extremely relevant and valuable during the COVID-19 pandemic. The local healthcare community has been very generous in presenting to the students. Anyone in leadership who would like to be a speaker can contact him at rmolinet@fau.edu
 
“We are always looking for new speakers to increase our students’ exposure to role models for leadership,” Molinet explains. “We also teach students valuable business skills such as Achieving Executive Presence, Personal Branding, Advanced PowerPoint, Excel, Strategic Planning and others.”
 
The Bootcamp emphasizes real-world experiences and interaction with leaders. There have been a number of activities including a field trip to Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital where students met with C-Suite leaders, toured the facility, and learned about the special work done by the staff at this hospital. The trips are on hold now due to COVID-19, but they hope to resume them whenever it’s safe to do so.
 
The school offers an Executive MBA and Professional MBA program with various concentrations, including healthcare. The Executive MBA is for more seasoned professionals. The Professional MBA program is tailored to younger students, and they develop curricula to help these young future leaders succeed.
 
“One of the aspects of our FAU Executive programs that sets us apart from other universities is the personalized attention we provide our students,” adds Molinet. “We offer ‘concierge-level services’ so our students only need to focus on learning. We offer a dedicated team of advising, admissions, financial aid, operations, IT and other professionals who navigate everything from registering students for their classes, to individualized career planning, to customized IT support and we even order textbooks delivered to those students who elect that service. When we are back on campus, we will resume our amazing catered lunches that provide an opportunity for students to relax in the middle of their day of learning and network with other students in their class, professors and industry leaders.”
 
According to Molinet, the new state-of-the-art, $23 million College of Business Executive Education facility in the Schmidt Family Complex for Academic & Athletic Excellence is an amazing facility with the latest technology for learning.
 
“We are excited to welcome our students back in January to learn in our new executive facilities,” he says.
 
Most of the Executive Education faculty are still active in their fields; students value learning from leaders who are engaged in business and understand the current environment. These industry leaders work in collaboration with a strong and accomplished academic faculty. They are AACSB accredited, a prestigious accreditation that only 5% of business schools offer. Having the Executive MHA program housed in the School of Business provides students with an added level of knowledge and sophistication.
 
“This is different than other schools in the area, “explains Molinet. “With the complexities of healthcare reimbursement, changing systems including value-based pricing, a global pandemic and other challenges, we equip our students to learn about the ‘business of healthcare’ while providing the fundamentals of patient experience and excellence in patient care.”
 
In fact, one of the faculty, Dr. Andrew Gallan, is one of the foremost authorities on patient experience in the country. They also have former hospital CEOs such as Dr. Sal Barbera and Ms. Chantal Leconte on the faculty, in addition to industry experts including Rene Zipper and Dr. Sam Lin, a retired Assistant Surgeon General of the United States, and Dr. Alan Whiteman who has extensive experience in consulting.
 
“My background was in the C-suite and senior leadership roles in a number of industries including home healthcare, hospice, specialty pharmacy, and executive coaching,” says Molinet.
 
The aspect of their program that matters most, in Molinet’s opinion, is the student experience and the different student-centric programs they offer in addition to the academic rigor they are known for. In the Executive Education family, they view students as “customers” and strive to provide a high level of personalized customer care. They offer a customized mentoring program called the Faculty Ambassador Program where newly admitted EMHA students are paired with a professor who acts as their mentor throughout their FAU career and beyond.
 
“Our student’s mental health is of the utmost importance to our Executive Education family especially during the pandemic,” says Molinet. “We have a dynamic counseling center on campus available free of charge to students. Faculty and staff are encouraged to participate in Mental Health education to identify students at risk and to assure their safety and ultimate success in our program and in their lives.”
 
Camilla De Abreu, Risk Management Specialist at Broward Health Medical Center who will graduate this semester with an MBA with a healthcare concentration says, “My professor truly cares about his students and was able to help me identify my opportunities and recommend new ways to achieve them. He is always encouraging me and my classmates to step outside our comfort zones to grow.”
 
Molinet adds, “We are so proud of Camilla and all our students and enjoy watching them grow as leaders.”
 
Teaching during the pandemic
One of the strengths at FAU is its adaptability in the face of change and disruption, notes Molinet. As the global pandemic began changing the way the entire world operated earlier this year, they also shifted and successfully transitioned all programs and students to a virtual setting.
 
Many of the professors have added Zoom-etiquette training programs to their courses to help students navigate this brave new world academically and professionally. Coaching students on successful virtual presence has been very beneficial for students and faculty.
 
One of the EMHA students, Dr. Shari Robins, MD, Internal Medicine Physician at Cleveland Clinic, shares, “I feel as though I am in person with my professor and the entire class. Even though we are all learning online, our professor keeps the class interactive and encourages us to be professional in the way we dress and our overall virtual presence. The guest speakers that he brings in allow us to interact with industry experts. I have found the networking assignment to be most beneficial since it has enabled me to make connections that will help me in my future professional endeavors.”
 
The FAU Executive Education team has spent the past two decades perfecting online learning delivery, and were well prepared to make this transition.
 
“Our focus is always on delivering top-quality education programs to working professionals in Florida, and we are pleased that we have been able to transition all of our programs into virtual formats during the pandemic. We also take pride in the high caliber of our participants who have shown great resilience in a difficult situation.” says Vegar Wiik, Executive Director of FAU Executive Education. “We thank them for choosing FAU as their executive education provider, and we are proud to offer our convenient and exceptional educational experience that empowers South Florida working professionals to continue excelling in their careers.”
 
Starting this spring, students will have the option to attend classes on campus or continue in an entirely virtual setting.
 
“Our priority remains the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff, and as we have successfully proven, we are prepared to adapt and adjust as circumstances continue to evolve,” says Molinet.
 
Challenges and successes over the past year
The biggest challenge Molinet probably has seen in the past seven months is how to keep students engaged who otherwise were expecting to learn in person and managing the impact of the pandemic on student’s lives.
 
“We work with each student to assure their own safety and mental health while at the same time, adapting as a University to a new way of teaching,” he says. “Some of our students lost their jobs due to the pandemic, and others had real losses in their families; some students had COVID-19 affect them personally or their loved ones.”
 
As educators, he notes that they can make a positive impact on students by creating a safe space in the classroom and being empathetic and flexible with each student’s needs. Molinet remembers having one student in his Executive MHA class who disclosed she had contracted the coronavirus and did not feel comfortable being on camera during class, but she still made an effort to attend every time.
 
“Another student from my Professional MBA program had a tree fall on her house in Louisiana during the hurricane, yet she made it a point to find a cell signal by standing on the bed of her boyfriend’s pick-up truck so she could let me know she was okay and to ask for an extension on her assignments,” he says. “This type of student commitment and resilience was very motivational, and frankly, emotional for me as a professor. My colleagues and I worked very hard to make sure our students’ basic needs were met and that we were flexible with deadlines and assignments during this crisis. Our Executive Education leadership team has also been very supportive of faculty and staff working remotely and understanding their needs. At the end of the day, much like in healthcare, happy staff and faculty (providers) make for happy and engaged students (customers).”
 
In speaking with his colleagues, Molinet has been so impressed with some of the innovative techniques they have implemented to keep students engaged in front of a computer. These students had signed up for on-campus learning but were unable to do so because of COVID-19.
 
“In my classes, I have tried to make learning rigorous but fun,” Molinet says. “With everything from music videos and funny parodies to FlipGrid video discussion boards, to Zoom Breakout rooms, Zoom Polling and breathing exercises, we have all worked hard to keep students engaged in learning. I like to bring laughter into the classroom. When we laugh, our bodies produce endorphins…the body’s ‘natural high’ which helps students reduce anxiety and therefore be more open to learning. As a nurse, I remember the power of laughter and positive energy with my patients and I try hard to bring that same level of excitement and compassion to the classroom.”
 
Finally, Molinet explains how grateful they are for the support they received from the community of healthcare and business leaders.
 
“During such a difficult time, it was heartwarming how many of these leaders took time to speak with our students, even when working so hard to provide excellent care to the patients and families affected by COVID-19 and while keeping their respective businesses sustainable,” he says. “I want to also thank South Florida Hospital News & Healthcare Report for its reporting during COVID-19. It became the ‘go to’ resource for all things COVID-19 in South Florida. That is a remarkable public service. The frequent updates, the articles, and the reporting were amazing and really contributed to the success of our local healthcare community coming together, not as competitors, but as collaborators to fight the pandemic and assure public safety and health during this unprecedented pandemic.”

For more information, visit business.fau.edu/executive-education/.

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