This winter, La Sierra University’s Zapara School of Business launched its first out-of-state Master of Business Administration program, offering graduate courses designed for busy health care professionals.
The MBA cohort program at Adventist Health Castle medical center in Kailua, Hawaii, officially began instruction on Jan. 7, 2019, following a fast-tracked setup and approval in December by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and subsequent approval by the state of Hawaii. The class of nurses, doctors, managers, health care specialists, and administrators is expected to reach an enrollment of 35 students by spring quarter.
The program allows students to complete their MBA requirements in less than two years. It delivers two six-week sessions per quarter, each featuring a one-week intensive taught by La Sierra faculty and supported by reading, group projects, and assignments in Blackboard, a virtual online classroom environment.
The first one-week intensive class for Adventist Health Castle cohorts was held in early January and taught by Dulce Peña, associate professor of Law and Human Resource Management, from the Zapara School of Business. The course, “Leadership Creativity and Organization Dynamics,” teaches students the value of a creative mindset in business and life, and how to create organizational structures that support creativity and bring out the best in employees. The class typically involves students engaging in some form of art-based activity outdoors, usually the mountains or the beach. Students may also engage in photography, creative writing, improvisation or other art-based activities in the classroom.
According to Peña, “The shift to a fast-paced and innovation driven economy has led to a demand in a shift in the leader mindset. Organizations are looking for leaders who are creative, embrace the certainty of failure, are able to recognize and appreciate different perspectives, inspire creativity and healthy workplaces, and are open and adapt quickly to change. Art-based activities in the classroom and corporate training are becoming more widely used to develop the mindset of a creative, authentic and transformational leader.”
Following the first week’s class, several cohort students gave their impressions. William Scruggs, emergency medicine physician at Castle, said, “I expected to be exhausted at the end of the week and I already am. I’m surprised that it’s not because of reading and writing. It’s because I can’t fall asleep and wake up early thinking about the things we talk about, what I could have done better in the past, and how I can apply all of this in the future.”
“An MBA cohort is a magnificent decision for any hospital,” said Estrella Noguchi, director of laboratory service.“Investing and supporting our leadership skills will have more than 100 percent returns in innovation and collaboration, positively changing how health care is provided.”
The Zapara School of Business cohort graduate program caters to professionals seeking a graduate degree in business, but who don’t have the ability to attend regular classes on campus and who are eager to engage in active learning with a network of their peers. The business school works with organizations to provide on-site instruction for groups, or cohorts of employees and associates. Over the past two decades, the cohort programs have been offered around Southern California through such organizations as Eisenhower Health in Rancho Mirage, Loma Linda University, and Adventist Health Glendale.
The process of organizing and establishing a cohort program is complex and time-consuming. The development of the Hawaii MBA program encountered a particularly short window for winter quarter setup once key administrators at Adventist Health and the business school came to an agreement in October.
“We are pleased to be able to partner with La Sierra University to bring the MBA program back to Adventist Health Castle,” said Heidar Thordarson, Adventist Health Castle’s finance officer. “We have seen the benefit of an MBA program as three of our executives are graduates of past MBA programs at Castle and we’re committed to the continued growth of our leaders. By offering this valuable Christ-centered program to our leaders, we’re able to continue our mission of ‘Living God’s love by inspiring health, wholeness and hope.’”
John Thomas, dean of the Zapara School of Business, said, “We are so excited that we could create this partnership with Adventist Health Castle and continue providing business education in health care, which we have done for so many of our health care professionals over the years.”
— Darla Martin Tucker is director of public relations at La Sierra University in Riverside, California.