Earning an MHA to combine business and healthcare

February 11, 2020

Becky Ziegler-Otis has spent her entire career in health care, starting in information management before moving into areas including performance improvement, corporate compliance, and electronic health record implementation.

Along the way, she worked in a variety of settings, including long-term care facilities, hospital systems, physician practices, and consulting. For the past decade, she’s been employed as the administrator of the Ambulatory Surgical Center of Stevens Point, Wis., an independent, physician-owned, multi-specialty surgical center.

Becky also has committed herself to being active in volunteer work related to her profession. Becky served as Wisconsin Forward Award Examiner for several years, which is one of Wisconsin’s premier recognition for workplace excellence.

As her 20-year career in healthcare progressed in a steady motion, there was one thing she always wanted to do, and that was to keep learning. “I’ve always been passionate about furthering my education and demonstrating competence in each of my roles,” she says. “I showed my willingness to learn by achieving certifications in health care compliance, ambulatory surgical center administration, and as a certified professional in health care quality.”

In spite of working to stay current in her field, she felt there was another big step she wanted to take—

getting a master’s degree. She had a passion for the business side of healthcare and felt that getting a master’s degree would allow her to more effectively combine those two roles.

Deferring a dream

“For more than 20 years, I thought about earning my master’s degree,” Ziegler-Otis says. “However, raising a family while working full time prevented me from pursuing this dream.” She didn’t want to sacrifice the time she had to spend with her children while they were still young. But by late 2017, she felt that the time might finally be right for her to pursue her dream and expand her career horizons.

Finding the right program and the right format

“I began exploring programs that would be flexible and align with my professional career,” Ziegler-Otis says. “After researching several options, I felt that Capella was the perfect fit for me and enrolled in the Master of Health Administration program on my birthday in November of 2017.”

A key factor in choosing Capella was the university’s FlexPath® format. “What I thought was great about the FlexPath format as well as the courses that I was taking for my master’s is that many of the courses very much related to the career that I had been pursuing my entire 20 years.” Having coursework be immediately relevant to her daily work life increased its value for Becky.

A rigorous—and enjoyable—degree experience

She found her coursework to be directly applicable to her career. “Throughout my professional career, I’ve held a variety of leadership positions. I found my experiences and prior knowledge complemented the coursework. I used several of my assignments to fulfill projects in my current job and explore new strategic initiatives.”

One big payoff of her commitment was her overall enjoyment of the process and the pace at which she moved through the degree program. “Initially, I set a goal to finish the program in 18 months. But I soon discovered I enjoyed finishing a course every four weeks! I completed my master’s degree in a mere 13 months. I would not have been able to complete this degree without the flexibility of FlexPath.”

Moving forward with her degree

Besides swiftly completing a degree that had a direct impact on her daily work, Ziegler-Otis found another benefit. “The most significant impact this program has had on my career is that of personal confidence,” she says. “This includes confidence in strategic initiatives and in researching outlets to validate my projects. FlexPath gave me the opportunity to explore new alternatives to further myself for the next steps in my career. Not to mention, it gave me the extreme satisfaction of accomplishing a goal that I’ve wanted to achieve for more than 20 years.” 

Learn more about the onlineMaster of Health Administration programat Capella University.

Becky Ziegler Otis' FlexPath Story

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