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Finding a Path in Healthcare and Education

September 13, 2021

When Ashley Medina, MHA ‘20, decided she wanted a career in healthcare, she thought it would be as an emergency medicine physician. Determining after a semester of medical school that it was not a good fit, she forged an interesting path into healthcare administration (HA).

Not sure what to do with a biology degree outside of working in a lab, Medina sought out opportunities to see what she might like. “Healthcare was always a passion of mine—I ended up obtaining my phlebotomy and EKG certifications and accepted a position in a two-person primary care office,” she remembered. That practice grew, she became the office manager, hired and trained many people, and after two years, thought, “maybe this is a career?” At that time, she didn’t realize what she was doing all along was HA.

Drexel College of Nursing and Health Professions Alumna Ashley Medina, MHA, on her wedding day.Moving from New York to be closer to her now husband, she worked in federally qualified health centers in primary care and OB/GYN in Delaware before becoming a practice supervisor then manager at ChristianaCare. Medina knew that a graduate degree would be necessary to move up in her career, so she chose to get a Master of Health Administration from Drexel University. “It was the best fit for me,” she offered. “This was a master's in healthcare administration, not just a concentration, and it was 100 percent virtual except for the week-long residency.” Talking about the program, Medina noted so many things that benefitted her. Three things particularly stood out—the ability to apply what she was learning directly to her daily experiences, the interprofessional makeup of her cohort and the residency. “The residency was the most impactful for me,” she shared. Besides the opportunity to put faces with names, the group project and presentation gave them the opportunity to collect and analyze data from Drexel practices and propose improvements that could actually be implemented.

When asked why someone should consider a career in health administration, Medina enthusiastically answered, “there are many ways to help people and there are many roles that are critical and crucial in healthcare besides clinicians.” For instance, patient relations, accreditation and billing, or what she does as a safety and quality specialist. Drexel, through the well-crafted curriculum, provides an excellent education no matter what your area of interest might be. In her current role, Medina designs and facilitates learning content in improvement science. “We have nurses, healthcare administrators, people from microbiology, pharmacy and all over the system who brainstorm ideas and opportunities—those little thorns in their sides—and then we walk them through their quality and performance project,” she commented. “It's pretty cool to see that evolution, to be able to see people learn, absorb and then apply it. Our goal is to have everybody using these tools through our system,” added Medina.

While careers in healthcare administration may include many things, Medina interest in the learning side has brought her back to the College in pursuit of a Doctor of Health Science degree. Her role was changing as she started teaching her own supervisors and saw this as an opportunity to focus on leadership and education. The college’s DHSc program allows her to dive more deeply into those areas and would help her achieve another goal: to teach in the CNHP’s master's program. “I would like to share my experience and knowledge with other healthcare administrators,” Medina concluded.

No matter what role she occupied, Ashley Medina has made significant contributions to improve the lives of patients, and she did it by diagnosing and fixing problems in the system.

Written by Roberta S. Perry