Darleen Barnard, DHA, MBA, CHFP, joined Capella University as an adjunct professor in 2011. In 2012, she became core faculty in the health administration degree programs. She shares a bit about her typical workday, challenges the health care industry is facing, how she stays on top of industry trends, and more.


Q. What classes do you teach and what is your favorite class?

A. I teach Master of Health Administration (MHA) and Doctor of Health Administration (DHA) courses. My favorite class, by far, is Team Development and Personal Leadership in Healthcare Settings. This particular class is unique because students meet with a professional coach twice during the quarter. The course challenges students to evaluate their own leadership style by meeting with the coach and keeping a journal. Not only are students mastering course competencies, but they are also reflecting on their own style and beliefs.


Q. What does a typical workday look like for you?

A. A typical work day includes interacting with students in the classrooms, by email, and on the phone. I talk to students at all hours of the day and evening. I teach an average of 4 to 5 classes per quarter, design MHA and DHA courses, mentor doctoral candidates, and review comprehensive exams. I am a member of the President’s Advisory Council, and also a member of the faculty review panel, where we hear grade appeal and academic honesty cases.


Q. What question or questions do prospective students ask most often?

A. The number one question I receive from prospective students is “How flexible are the courses and do I need to be available certain days/times?” Because our students are primarily working adults, they need the flexibility that an online program offers. Their main concern is how to squeeze in additional hours each week.


Q. What challenges do you see in the industry?

A. Two of the biggest challenges for the industry right now are 1) the Affordable Care Act and understanding all of the implications today and in the future, and 2) the retiring baby boomers who will begin using their Medicare benefits. Both of these challenges will continue to change the health care industry for years to come.


Q. What do you enjoy most about your job?

A. I really enjoy watching the changes that students go through from one quarter to the next. I teach courses at the beginning and the end of the MHA program, and I LOVE seeing the academic advances students make as they complete the program. Their writing and formatting skills improve, but more importantly, the depth of their responses and their critical thinking skills improve as they gain confidence and knowledge.


Q. What are you most proud of in your time at Capella?

A. I am most proud of the Shank awards I have received, because those awards are based on student recommendations. [The Stephen Shank Recognition acknowledges teaching or mentoring excellence.]


Q. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

A. This wasn’t advice that I received directly, but something that I try to live by every single day: Henry Ford stated, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t – you’re right.” This quote speaks to the power of positive thinking and believing in yourself. Many of us limit ourselves because we tell ourselves we can’t do something. Some of my proudest moments were times when I changed my beliefs and succeeded at something I previously thought I couldn’t do.


Q. How do you stay on top of industry trends?

A. I subscribe to newsletters and I am a member of organizations such as Healthcare Financial Management Association, Medical Group Management Association, and American College of Healthcare Executives.


Q. What is one thing your students and colleagues would be surprised to know about you?

A. I am a certified personal trainer and certified weight loss specialist. I am working on my behavior modification certification now. I have helped hundreds of people get in the best shape of their lives and lose weight. And yes, I do this online as well – I love technology!


Q. Coffee, tea or soda?

A. Coffee, although tea is a close second! I kicked the diet soda habit last year and only cheat occasionally.



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