Spotlight: The MBA in Healthcare Management

How does an MBA in Healthcare Management benefit a health administrator? Lim Hong Yee, a pharmacist by training, has been in the healthcare industry for 13 years. In this post, she shares her MBA story, and even how she got her company to sponsor her MBA with a scholarship.

Why Healthcare MBA

A bit about myself:

I’m a pharmacist by training and been in hospital healthcare industry for the past 13 years. Over the past 5-8 years, I’ve moved on to middle management where I took on a managerial role to manage about 8 pharmacy sections in the outpatient ambulatory care section of Tan Tock Seng Hospital. The outpatient pharmacy section underwent a major decentralization transformation and we expanded from 1 central pharmacy to total of 8 decentralized pharmacy models. Staff strength which I was previously managing ranged between 80 – 120 staff with supervisors at different hierachies to manage the lower ground staff.

I decided to do an MBA because:

As I moved on to middle management, I begin to manage people, projects, budgets, analytics of operations and department workplans plus expansions. I found myself getting interested in hospital administration as a whole and wanted to explore more in this area. Running hospital operations is challenging as we often work in a fast-paced environment and against time eg. H1N1 outbreaks, dengue fever surges, Haze threats etc. In order to equip myself better or advance myself in this area, I decided to take on the MBA course to learn about the business aspects of running a hospital. At the end of day, healthcare is still a business and whatever operations or new opportunities we venture into, they must still be sustainable.

With an MBA, I hoped to have a stepping stone to handle hospital operations at a more senior level. I was not so much looking for an industry switch but more for career advancement.

I decided to do a full-time MBA in NUS because:

I did research on several MBA courses in Spore including the reputable ones like INSEAD and Chicago Booth. I was a little torn between choosing a full-time or part-time course. While my organization was willing to spare me full time to do the course, I was not willing to part with my career having built strong passion and excellent working relationships over the past 10+ years. However, the part time courses often cost more and there were very few in the market which offered MBA in healthcare specialization.

NUS had a unique position in offering the MBA as the business school had tied up with the Saw Swee Hock school of public health to offer this specialization. I strongly believe that there is a demand for this specialization as Singapore develops itself to a medical hub in Asia-Pacific region. The Singapore government has also shared the healthcare masterplans till 2020 and indeed, more hospitals (both public and private) will be set up spreading over the whole of Singapore to ensure every region has great accessibility to affordable healthcare. The demand for hospital administrators is thus apparent and needs no justification. This explained why I ultimately went for NUS MBA (Healthcare Management).

How I convinced my company to support my MBA studies:

The key was to wait for the right window of opportunity and never give up on any possible chances. Express your interest to your bosses or management. Explore different avenues of possible scholarships which you could embark on. There are several criteria involved before you can apply for the appropriate scholarship so look around carefully. I guess it was easier for me as the opportunities for scholarships are rather abundant in the public healthcare sector. I also believe working with the management on how you can value add to the organization after the MBA course would also be useful. It may take too long to come up with a detailed plan but at least work on some tangible objectives eg. not working within the same department anymore and being willing to move out of comfort zone and explore new areas of ventures. The scholarship which I applied under was known as the National Healthcare Group Clinician Administrator Award (NCAS). It was originally meant for clinicians only but that year when I applied, they decided to open up to Allied health professionals too, which explained why I was eligible.

My first impressions of the NUS MBA (and what I’ve learned so far):

NUS Management Communication

This year’s week-long Management Communication course; a world-first experential learning programme custom-designed for NUS by the LinHart Group.

Very intensive; it’s been a steep learning curve for me especially when I had been trained in medical science all this while. The first week on Management Communication was awesome–insightful and eye-opening. The amount of knowledge and skills picked up within that 1 week was more than what I learnt in the practical office environment. We were encouraged to reflect on our style of communication and improve upon our weaknesses. Networking, negotiation and relationship skills were skills picked up which we would otherwise not have a chance to learn in a structured manner at work. I started to expose myself to financial terms and learning from my peers was one great way to push me to the next level. I also begin to realize that being trained financially is a very practical tool in our daily lives. For instance, how much are you willing to spend on a certain product? What risks are you willing to take? These are invaluable skills not only in my future career path but also in my personal development.

Inspired to explore an MBA in Healthcare Management? Check out the NUS MBA (Healthcare) website, or explore our other MBA specialisations in Finance, Marketing, Real Estate, and Strategy and Organisation.