“I am well along in my career and even though I have already achieved many of my career goals, if I want to go any further, I know I need to obtain a new set of skills,” said Jenkins. “As I took on more leadership roles within my department and within UAB, I found that I needed business, leadership, and human resources skills that I did not possess.”
Jenkins researched and evaluated executive leadership programs from across the country. He found the perfect program: ranked 5th in the nation by U.S. News & World Report; eligible for one of three UAB Medicine employee scholarships; and located three blocks from his office.
He enrolled in the School of Health Profession’s Executive Master of Science in Health Administration program in September 2011. The move was made in order to distinguish him even more as a leader and the dividends paid off immediately.
“Even though I have not graduated, I have already utilized skills and knowledge obtained in the MSHA program,” said Jenkins. “I have found finance, marketing, process improvement, health law, and human resources classes already extremely beneficial.”
Jenkins says the program has been a source of discovery – both personally and professionally. He finds the faculty is able to connect theory to practice; yet when the two distinctive sides conflict, they are not afraid to question both sides.
“In the Executive MSHA program, the class has such a wealth of experience in real-world situations that it truly enhances your understanding,” said Jenkins. “Professors are well versed in their fields with both academic and business world expertise; they are also challenged, and in turn challenge the students, when ‘theories and concepts’ don’t coincide with real-world experience.”
Jenkins says that while the program has been learning intensive he has been able to balance classes, assignments, work and life. He is on schedule to graduate September 2013 and has one piece of advice for anyone interested in joining the Executive MSHA program:
“Be prepared to learn from both professors and classmates,” said Jenkins.
Wade Hurston has never been one for auto-pilot. Not in education, career or life. He has always set, and navigated the path carefully.
So it is not a random wandering from the assigned course that Hurston, who has a baccalaureate AND a master degree in aerospace engineering, is a doctoral student in the Department of Physical Therapy. He was looking for a career where he could soar.
“I talked to many people who were in or had gone to medical school, nursing school and occupational therapy school and when I articulated what it was I wanted to do they recommended physical therapy,” said Hurston, who co-authored the paper Solid Rocket Motor Design Using Hybrid Optimization that was published in the International Journal of Aerospace Engineering, Volume 2012. “And after completing the observation hours that are part of the application process, my decision was solidified and I knew I’d chosen the right profession.”
Hurston, a Memphis native who lives in Montgomery with his wife and two kids ages 2 years and 10 months, is not looking to jet through the program. He plans to take advantage of every opportunity available with the hopes of being cleared for takeoff, make that graduation, in December 2015.
“Right now I’d like to work in an outpatient clinic, but I haven’t gotten much exposure to the many possible areas of physical therapy,” said Hurston. “Of course, I reserve the right to change my mind once I do get some more experience. But I am looking forward to learning more about the possibilities out there from all the classwork and clinical rotations.”
As he starts to circumnavigate his education and his career, Hurston has advice for his fellow classmates: do not flutter around the sky aimlessly; locate your target, zero in on it and then pilot your way to it swiftly and thoroughly. How you fly through your goal and how you land after reaching your goal will be determined by your initial approach.
“The interview for acceptance to the PT program was the most important and nerve-wracking part of the process so my advice is just be honest and be yourself,” said Hurston. “And be prepared. It is easy enough to guess some of the questions that will be coming so take the time to prepare some thoughtful responses in advance and try to avoid the canned responses that you think the interviewers want to hear.”
Before coming to UAB, Veeradej Pisprasert, M.D., was an assistant professor at Khonkaen University in Thailand in the Clinical Division in the Department of Medicine. In his country, the two main areas of concern for nutrition include malnutrition and obesity. It’s a big enough issue that his government sent him to school in the United States.
“Recently, physicians have realized the importance of clinical nutrition which may improve clinical outcome of treatment,” said Pisprasert. “However, the practice would not be successful without novel knowledge from research.”
Pisprasert is earning a PhD in Nutrition Sciences where he is being trained and given research opportunities in classical nutrition, clinical nutrition, nutrition and disease prevention and metabolism of nutrients. He’s learning the science of nutrition as it relates to maintaining the health of individuals and populations as well as the care and treatment of individuals with a variety of diseases.
“Nutrition research is based on both basic sciences and clinical applications,” said Pisprasert. “Therefore, the MD and PhD combination, merging basic and clinical sciences together, would fulfill the needs of my country.”
During his time here, he has published one study in Diabetes Care, “Limitations in the use of indices employing glucose and insulin levels to predict insulin sensitivity: impact of race and gender and superiority of the indices derived from oral glucose tolerance test in African Americans males.” A second study, “Racial differences in lipoprotein subclasses and relationships to insulin resistance,” is in revision.
Pisprasert will earn his doctoral degree in May 2013 and will head back home to Thailand. He plans to apply his knowledge and experience he gained here in his career as a clinician and researcher.
“When I go back home, I can apply these skills with my responsibilities, including teaching students (undergraduate and graduate), practice with patients, and research,” said Pisprasert.
“After learning more about the profession, I can see how the field uses my talents and gifts I have been given and allows me to make the most of those,” said Coggins.
Choosing UAB was not a tough decision for her either.
“After speaking with friends who have previously been through the program, it really seemed like the style and structure of this program best fit my personality and style of learning,” said Coggins. “It’s also very nice to be so close to home.”
Coggins learned the creativity OT allows for a practitioner and was something she was quickly drawn to in the beginning.
“I love that this is such a client-centered profession, and that requires you to form great relationships with each client and really come up with creative treatments that are going to cater specifically to them,” said Coggins.
She said she has a heart and passion for pediatrics and specifically, children with developmental and intellectual disabilities. But she cautions incoming students to keep their options open.
“I thought I knew exactly which setting I wanted to work in,” said Coggins. “However, throughout program classes and fieldwork experiences, I have realized that there is a variety of settings I could see myself in.”
Coggins is expected to earn her master’s degree in December 2013 with hopes of staying in Birmingham and working in a pediatric setting.
“Working in some type of school setting would most likely be my ‘dream job’ specifically because of the population I would be working with, but as for now, I am keeping my options open and look forward to seeing which direction I am directed in over the next year,” said Coggins.
For once, being from a small town has its advantages especially for Candice Hudson. The West Blocton, Ala. native earned her bachelor’s degree in respiratory therapy from UAB in 2010 and worked in a hospital and long-term care facility. She was still paying her undergraduate loans and acquired more when she entered the Surgical Physician Assistant (SPA) program.
“My grandmother was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and I researched hospitals on careers in medicine that would allow me to help others suffering from similar conditions,” said Hudson. “I was intrigued by the Surgical Physician Assistant profession.”
Because Hudson, who was raised by a single mom, is from a disadvantaged background, she qualified for a scholarship from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration. The scholarship awards up to $15,000 toward her tuition and fees.
“The scholarship helped me tremendously in affording the rising cost of education,” said Hudson. “I am most grateful to receive such a scholarship and have the opportunity to attend graduate school without having to be concerned with employment while in school.”
Having a background in respiratory therapy has been an advantage for her while earning her master’s degree in SPA.
“I know about lung mechanics and the diseases thereof, mechanical ventilators, and the analysis and interpretation of arterial blood gases, which will come into play in the management plans for patients,” said Hudson.
She looks forward to the day when she graduates in 2014 so she can give back to communities like hers.
“I want to be able to help those that come from similar backgrounds such as my own because oftentimes, rural communities encounter a shortage in health care professionals,” said Hudson.
Hudson can also be an example for others to show she’s no longer a “statistic,” but someone who has beaten the odds. And she can contribute some of her success to her number one cheerleader, her mom.
“My mother has given so much for me to help me accomplish some of my biggest dreams,” said Hudson. “As a single parent, we’ve endured some hard times but she has never given up hope and she is always there to encourage me! She is truly my angel.”