CROOKSTON, Minn. — When Julie Hinders was looking for a position similar to her previous job as director of Upper Iowa University’s Master of Health Administration program, she saw the University of Minnesota Crookston’s online health management program. The college’s Midwestern reputation, resources and location appealed to her.
She became the program’s new director, and the same week she started, the program was named the sixth best of its kind in the nation.
“It was very exciting and it reinforced that I made a good decision,” Hinders said.
The online health management program was selected out of 7,700 for the list by EduMed.org, a website that works with higher education and health experts to give students information about possible programs from colleges and universities across the U.S. EduMed collected data from these schools, as well as from the Integrated Postsecondary Data System to address multiple factors. Among them: academic advising services, tutoring, career placement services and amount of school aid per student. In addition, the school is required to hold active regional accreditation and have at least one partially online program, according to a news release.
EduMed’s outreach coordinator, Wes Harris, said in the release that online courses are important for their accessibility, especially when it comes to making them more accessible to students as the shortage of health professionals increases.
“One of the solutions to the health care shortage is to make higher education more accessible to students,” he said. “Online programs open the door for those who may not be able to commit to a campus-based program due to its typical inflexibility, commute, or personal demanding schedules. The schools in our ranking have made online learning a priority.”
Hinders agrees that flexibility, as well as affordability, is the highlight of the Minnesota Crookston program. She said the program has a large number of non-traditional students, such as those who are working and looking to improve their skills. It’s important to meet students where they are, Hinders said. For those who don’t yet have a career, Hinders notes that working in health care doesn’t necessarily mean working in a hospital.
“I always try to make students realize that working in health care doesn’t mean you have to work in a hospital,” she said. “It’s the first thing most students think of. … But that’s just one sector of healthcare – it’s so broad. … There are so many behind-the-scenes positions that need to be filled, whether it’s a clinic, a nursing home, a hospital. We really try to prepare students to take on leadership roles in healthcare.
As the new director, Hinders plans to further expand the program. Part of that includes hiring another full-time faculty member, streamlining the internship process, relaunching a health care advisory board and applying for recertification for accreditation with the National Association of Long-Term Care Administrative Boards.
By working to improve the program, Hinders hopes to help meet the nation’s health care needs. With an aging nation, there is greater demand.
“We need to come together as an industry to try to tackle the labor shortage,” she said.
Otto is a recent graduate of the University of North Dakota and a reporter for the Herald.