CatharineRushdi 0435Katie Rushdi was overjoyed when she learned that she’d been accepted into the M.S. in Health Administration program at The University of Alabama at Birmingham. The Collierville, Tennessee native had always wanted to pursue a career in the medical field, but things quickly changed when her father was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer, just two weeks after entering the program.

“Adjusting to a new city, coming into a program without knowing anyone else in my class, and just beginning graduate school in general became significantly more overwhelming in a single instant,” Rushdi recalls.

Rushdi found strength in her faculty and classmates in the Department of Health Services Administration, as well as within herself.

“I had to learn to control my thoughts in order to remain successful in my classes, which is a tough task when the topic of cancer comes up a lot,” she explains. “My classmates in the MSHA program have become some of my best friends, and my professors genuinely care about the wellbeing of their students.”

In addition to her studies, Rushdi works as a part-time administrative intern at SPAR Medical, Inc., a medical supply and distribution company in Birmingham. “The Birmingham area is thriving with numerous hospitals and healthcare companies,” she explains, “so the community as a whole is extremely supportive of medical professionals.

“All of my professors have extensive backgrounds in the healthcare industry to talk about in class. I’m always pleased to come across a situation at work that we have previously discussed in the classroom.”

Rushdi also volunteers with the American Cancer Society Junior Executive Board.

“Because of my experiences over the past year, I thought I would probably shy away from working in a cancer center,” she says. “But I’ve recently come to realize that I would love the opportunity to work for an organization whose mission is to improve the lives of patients that I can so easily identify with. Although I would never wish this situation on anyone, it has definitely given me a direction in life and reaffirmed why I love the path I’ve chosen.”

Once she graduates, Rushdi wants to work in an administrative role in a variety of different healthcare facilities. “I believe that the happiest and most successful people in life are those who are truly passionate about the work they are doing,” she says. “It’s always been a goal of mine to make a difference in people’s lives, and I know I’ve made the correct career decision to make that happen.”

The MSHA program at UAB, Rushdi says, will help her develop into a successful healthcare professional and leader.

“The biggest thing I’ve discovered along the way is to not stress over the things I have no control over,” she says. “My advice for incoming students would be to appreciate everything along the journey you are about to embark upon, no matter how small or trivial it may seem at the time. The UAB School of Health Professions provides us with so many unique learning opportunities throughout the year, so take advantage of all of them and really use what you learn moving forward with your career development."