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My MBA With Healthcare Concentration Took Me From Policy To Practice

Nico Nguyen used her MBA with healthcare concentration to go from recommending healthcare policies, to taking charge of their impact on the ground

Before she studied her MBA with healthcare concentration, Nico Nguyen worked in policy, advising the Office of State Senator on healthcare issues in Texas.

Although she enjoyed the work, it left her feeling distant from what was actually happening in local hospitals.

“At the state level, you’re writing these policies, but someone has to actually implement them,” she says. “I was curious to see what that would look like on the hospital side.” 

To break into these corporate, patient-facing roles, Nico needed to combine her knowledge of healthcare policy with business acumen. This realization soon led her to business school.

After completing her MBA in Healthcare Administration at Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business, she landed a policy implementation role with multinational healthcare system, CHRISTUS Health.

Gaining exposure 

While researching her business school options, Nico soon discovered the healthcare administration MBA at Baylor. 

She was initially drawn to the program’s reputation—ranked among the top 20  healthcare administration MBAs by US News. After speaking with the program director, she decided it was a great fit for her career goals.

“They also have an internship or fellowship program where you work for a semester,” she adds. “This was a big advantage.”

During her own fellowship, Nico travelled to Alabama and worked with local health care system, Brookwood Baptist Health. 

Here, she shadowed staff in different departments and attended strategy meetings, gaining an oversight of how healthcare systems function in the process. 

As a capstone project, she worked on employee retention strategy, uncovering patterns in why staff left the organization, and making recommendations to improve average tenure.

“It was a great experience for me to get exposure to both hospital and corporate settings,” she reflects.

In Alabama, Nico made the connection that would lead to her current role with not-for-profit healthcare system, CHRISTUS Health.

During the fellowship, she worked alongside a colleague who later brought a job opening at CHRISTUS to her attention. 

“His work here in Dallas was similar to the work we’d done in Alabama,” Nico explains. “We had been on the same team, so he knew about my interests.”

In her current role with CHRISTUS, Nico works in the population health team. Her day to day work involves implementing contracts from the government or health plans to increase care quality while reducing cost.

“I’m on the operational, logistical, and data analytics side of things,” she explains. 

Nico is also responsible for presenting the data she gathers to clinicians in an accessible way—a skill she picked up and developed at Baylor, she notes. 

Life-long connections

When Nico was offered the job at CHRISTUS, the connections she had made at Baylor came in useful. 

Over the course of her program, she formed close connections with program staff. When the job at CHRISTUS became available, she called her former program director for advice on whether to accept it. 

“I still call on program directors when I have an issue,” she says. “These were people I trusted, and I knew they were looking out for me.”

Nico also keeps up with her MBA classmates. With a small cohort of around 20 students, close connections came naturally, she recalls.

“Even now we stay in touch, and can learn from each other because we’re working in different areas,” she notes.

Voices from the healthcare industry

Nico was also exposed to Baylor alumni in the classroom, as she studied her MBA. Once or twice each week, successful graduates would come in to speak about their healthcare administration careers.

For Nico, hearing these insights was one of the MBA program’s highlights. “Being able to pick up the wisdom of previous alumni has helped me,” she reflects.

Wherever Nico’s career takes her, she’s keen to continue learning from others in this way.

In the future, she plans to take on international work, and discover how healthcare functions beyond the US.

“I’ve always been very interested in learning how healthcare systems are implemented in other countries, thinking through these models, and applying what I learn to my work,” she says.

Equipped with the knowledge and skills she gained from staff and students at Baylor, she feels confident that she can continue to make an impact in healthcare in Texas.