Stefanie Ralph, MHM ’12, started at the Master of Health Management (MHM) program looking for formal education and training that would help her be more effective in her role as a nurse, and to help her reach her career goals. “I wanted more theory and evidence-based skills to back up my practice,” says Ralph.
Ralph came into the program with a background in management, working as the Central South Infection Network Coordinator at Public Health Ontario, and was looking to advance her career and prepare for her future in health management. After deciding that receiving further education would help her reach these goals, she searched for a health management program that would allow her to continue working full-time and balance her personal commitments. “I wanted a high quality program that would prepare me for the next phase in my career,” says Ralph. With these criteria in mind, she applied and was accepted into the very first cohort of the MHM program.
Ralph was lucky to be witness to many firsts with the program, and this opportunity to grow with the program added to her experience. “It was a wonderful opportunity to be part of something new and play a small role in shaping the program for years to come.” In addition, the program content proved to be very beneficial to her in her career advancement, and directly related and applicable to her role at Public Health Ontario. “The program helped me look at issues and opportunities from a broader systems perspective. Additional tools in finance, leadership and research have also proven useful.”
One of the characteristics that Ralph benefited from the most was the opportunity to learn from her classmates situated across the country, a benefit made possible by MHM’s distance learning model. “These classmates had different viewpoints and opinions that made our online discussions richer.” To allow for stronger personal relationships to form and more effective collaboration to occur, the program requires that students attend two on-site residencies in the Hamilton area during their studies, which allows students to connect and network with each other. “I felt that I could relate to my classmates better as we engaged in online dialogue,” says Ralph. “The residencies also provided an opportunity for real time debate and dialogue, which advanced my learning.”
Ralph was the very first graduate of the MHM program, convocating in November 2012, and has accomplished many things as a working professional with a Master of Health Management. She has gone on to receive the Canadian Healthcare Executive designation shortly after her convocation, and has worked her way up to the title of Director, Primary Care and Community Health at the Grand River Community Health Centre; accomplishments that were made possible with the degree she obtained from McMaster.
Ralph has some advice for prospective students looking to enter the MHM program: “A distance learning program requires self-discipline. You must be willing to devote time and energy to the program in order to be successful.”
Stefanie Ralph, MHM ’12 is Director, Primary Care and Community Health at the Grand River Community Health Centre, Brantford.