Hospitalist Medical Director Dr. Jennifer Douglas Earns MBA at Seton Hill To Be “Best Leader I Can Be”
Jennifer Douglas, M.D., has been a family practice doctor for more than 20 years. Recently, she took on a new role - as Hospitalist Medical Director at Excela. So she enrolled in Seton Hill’s MBA in Healthcare Administration to aid in her transition to new responsibilities. Recently, she took a few minutes out of her (very) busy schedule to answer a few questions about her Seton Hill MBA experience.
As a hospitalist with Excela, what made you decide to pursue an MBA in Healthcare Administration?
Being a doctor means constantly learning, constantly needing to keep up to date. But none of my original training or my continuing medical education has been about the way medicine works from a business perspective. When I was asked to take on the role of Hospitalist Medical Director at Excela -- I'll be honest, at first I thought maybe I wasn't the best candidate for the job. But when I gave it some more thought, I could see that my years in medicine, my history with Excela (I've been there from residency to the present), and the breadth of my experience (as both an inpatient and outpatient doctor) gave me a good perspective to be a leader. But I felt like I needed the background in healthcare administration to really be the best leader that I could be -- so I decided to get an MBA in Healthcare Administration.
Why did you choose the MBA Program at Seton Hill specifically?
There really was no doubt in my mind that if I did this, it would be at Seton Hill. First of all, the program came highly recommended by Rachel Sharan, PA-C and her husband, Dr. Rupam Sharan. They are colleagues of mine at Excela and they are both currently working on MBAs at SHU.
Second, my daughter, Emma Shaulis, graduated from Seton Hill on Monday with her BS in Forensic Science, and she has had a fantastic experience at Seton Hill. Even before she was a Griffin, she visited SHU for forensic science activities that Seton Hill hosted for high school students -- sometimes I came to those activities with her! (The crime scene house on campus is a pretty cool experience!) I've been so impressed with the quality education and the personal attention she's gotten as a student at Seton Hill.
"I'm learning so much and Seton Hill has been really supportive."
What has the experience of returning to school been like?
Let me tell you, I am so happy that I have a Seton Hill student and a high school student in my corner! (My son, Jake, is 17.) School is not the same as it was way back when I did it the first time! It's been quite a while since school for me and it's really amazing how technology has changed things. It sounds silly to current college students, I'm sure, but this has been my first experience with submitting my assignments online, participating in exchanges with fellow students via discussion boards, and taking courses entirely online. I'm learning so much and Seton Hill has been really supportive. I've also found that the other MBA students are from many different backgrounds and have come to the program for a lot of different reasons.
Have you learned anything in the program so far that you’ve been able to use in your work right away?
I just completed a marketing class, and in several of our assignments my professor asked that we discuss a particular concept and then explain how it relates to our own particular work experience. It's been interesting to think these assignments through because I've been in medicine for so long but I have never given thought to things like how healthcare is marketed.
It's also been so interesting to me to see that despite all my prior years of education and life experience, some of the topics being introduced in my classes are entirely new to me. I was that kid who knew early on that she wanted to be a doctor and plowed straight through to the goal without deviation. So I was a molecular biology/premed major at Grove City and went straight to University of Pittsburgh for med school. My education was great, but it was very focused on that goal of being a doctor. And it worked! I did it! But, wow, there was so much that I missed! It's been fascinating to delve into topics that were never part of my original laser-focused plan.
What would you tell anyone who might be considering an online MBA at Seton Hill?
Do it! I had a lot of fears going into this because it had been so long since I was a student, but I'm so glad that I started this program. The Seton Hill program is flexible and supportive. I have a lot of responsibilities outside my MBA program and I've been able to manage my classes in addition to everything else -- the program seems to be built with a lot of respect for everything else that is going on in an MBA student's life.
Photo: Jennifer Douglas (right) with daughter Emma, at Seton Hill's December 2022 commencement. Emma graduated with a degree in forensic science.