Health administration master’s degree program undergoes changes

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The master’s degree program for health administration at Penn State is undergoing several changes to better serve students’ needs.

Christopher Calkins, executive director of the World Campus Master of Health Administration (MHA) program, has been selected to lead both the online MHA program and in-residence MHA program at Penn State. The appointment is effective July 1.

Calkins will continue as head of the online MHA program and replace outgoing Jonathan Clark as head of the in-residence MHA program. Both programs are within the Department of Health Policy Administration in the College of Health and Human Development.

“I am very excited to be assuming the role of executive director for the residential MHA program, in addition to my role as executive director of the Penn State World Campus MHA program,” Calkins said. “I believe the two programs complement each other. Both sets of students demonstrate the innate empathy that is essential for professionals who work in the health care system. Understanding that leadership in health care requires us to appreciate that our work is serving those who are vulnerable, sick and afraid and we have the privilege and responsibility of fostering their return to wholeness by helping them navigate a complex system of care.”

Calkins has led the online MHA program since 2012. Previously, he served as director of Health Portfolio and Engagement for Penn State Outreach. Calkins earned a doctorate in health policy and administration at Penn State, a master’s degree in public administration at California State University, and a bachelor’s degree in health policy and administration at Penn State.

“Chris has done an outstanding job in developing and implementing our online MHA program, and we are thrilled that his capable leadership and experience will now benefit both the online and residential MHA programs,” said Marianne Hillemeier, head of Department of Health Policy and Administration.

Calkins said mid-career professionals served by the online MHA program provide the program with insight to emerging issues in health care delivery and organizational design as they confront these changes in real-time.

“These students bring to the classroom a set of issues and approaches to problem solving that inform their classmates and the faculty who teach in both MHA programs,” Calkins said.

At the same time, the early career professionals in the residential program test the program’s assumptions about how the health care industry is organized, delivered and financed.

“This new perspective coupled with broader familiarity with social media and technology, brings innovation and enthusiasm for change,” Calkins said.

Calkins intends to continue expanding access to a Penn State MHA education through certificate programs geared toward those whose clinical or administrative schedules make it difficult to balance the demands of a full-time or online MHA curriculum. 

Calkins also plans to work with staff in the College of Health and Human Development to connect students in both programs to alumni through internships, residencies, fellowships, capstone projects, mentoring and other opportunities.

“We are creating exemplary leaders every year and through them we are effecting the transformation of health provider organizations, processes of care, and the focus of care delivery,” Calkins said. “I want us to tell the story of our students, our faculty and our alumni more effectively to help everyone understand the tremendous return on investment from engaging with the MHA programs at Penn State.”

Additionally, Maureen Connelly Jones, instructor in the Penn State College of Nursing, is the new senior lecturer for the World Campus Master of Health Administration program. Jones was also an advance practice specialist and house supervisor at Mount Nittany Medical Center in State College, Pennsylvania.

Jones, a registered nurse, developed the Certificate in Forensic Nursing for the World Campus. The 12-credit certificate prepares nurses to provide more specialized care to victims of physical, psychological and social violence or abuse.

Jones also instructed numerous courses at Penn State in the areas of pediatrics, surgery and forensics for the School of Nursing; human resources for the School of Hospitality Management; training in business and industry for the Department of Workforce Education and Development and medical health needs for the Department of Health Policy and Administration.

“I am thrilled to join the team in the World Campus Master of Health Administration program,” Jones said. “I look forward to interacting with all of the professionals enrolled in our program and helping them achieve success through our courses and learning experiences. I hope to support the team's efforts to offer a world-class graduate degree program.”

Jones earned a doctorate in workforce education and development, a master’s degree in nursing, and a bachelor’s degree in nursing, all at Penn State. 

Chris Calkins Credit: Penn State / Penn StateCreative Commons

Last Updated June 17, 2015