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Ellen Dowling

2012 Graduate

Online Healthcare MBA Program

The George Washington University

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Ellen Dowling.  I took the Healthcare MBA program, graduated this year in 2012.  I work at an IT department at a hospital in Seattle, Washington.

Why did you choose the GW Healthcare MBA program?

I chose the Healthcare MBA program because it offered a really rigorous education, really high quality education and professors at a schedule that I could fit in with my full-time job.

Well, personally and professionally, I wanted to really enhance my business skills, in the healthcare field, and had been really focused on healthcare and wanted to learn the business skills that I needed for that next level in my own career.

What surprised you most about online learning?

I was surprised at how interactive it was.  It actually felt like you were there talking with the professor and the other students.  I thought it would be flatter, you know, a less intense experience, but it was just as great as being actually on campus.

I would say it’s intense.  It requires a lot of focus, a lot of commitment and self-discipline to actually get all of the work done when you don’t have a class scheduled to go to.  But it’s really rewarding.  If you can put in the effort, you definitely can see the benefits.

My most memorable moments was a really challenging group assignment we had in a marketing class.  I was in a group of seven people, from all over the country, in the US and from other countries.  So we would be up late at night and early in the mornings, having group meetings on Skype and conference calls trying to get this paper done.  And what impressed me most was the really depth and breadth of experience of people not only in the US but internationally and how we could come together at such distance to complete a really complex assignment.

How has the program impacted your career?

Well, I did get a promotion in my current job after I graduated, which felt really good.  And I’m looking forward to continuing to climb that corporate ladder.

How did you balance work, school, and family?

Work, and school and life balance is really difficult.  I found I really had to segment my time and focus a hundred percent on work when I was at work, and a hundred percent on my family when I was with my family, and then carve out time for school and really focus a hundred percent of my attention on school work while I was working on school work.

If I had one tip for people, it would be to schedule your own work time, plan ahead in the week and schedule out when you’ll complete all of your assignments and really hold yourself to that.

What is your favorite course in the program?

Oh, definitely entrepreneurship was my favorite course.  It was my favorite because it was the most challenging.  I never saw myself as an entrepreneur before taking this program.  And Professor Tarabishy really challenged us to look deep and think about how we ourselves could be entrepreneurs and really apply that.  So that was my favorite.

I’ve been thinking about going into business for myself and working through some business plans for some business ideas.  But also on a day-to-day basis in my own job I’ve taken some of those skills learned in entrepreneurship and applied them even to my corporate position.

What does a typical week look like?

An average week would mean doing blackboard discussion posts and potentially participating in some group chats during the week, mostly in the evening, sometimes early in the morning.  And then dedicating a good amount of time on the weekends to completing papers and tests and whatnot as assigned.  I think the work is minimal during the week, and then gets intense on the weekend and then you get to submit those final assignments on Sunday and get a break.

How does interaction with fellow students and faculty work online?

We interact online through a variety of methods.  We have chat boards.  We do a lot of e-mail.  We used a lot of Skype, which was really great ‘because you could see … not just … you did not just hear voices but see faces.  So I think it really offered a good experience, it felt like we really got to know each other.

Any final thoughts that you would like to share with future students?

If you’re looking for a program that is a really rigorous business program but with a healthcare focus, and want to be with a group of students with a great depth and breadth of experience in the healthcare market, then this is definitely the program for you.