June 20th, 2018

Q&A Podcast with Program Director
Mary Ann Hart

Mary Ann Hart

Associate Professor and Program Director of Health Administration

Ms. Hart has been a Regis faculty member since 2005 and led the development of the Regis Graduate Program in Health Administration in 2009, currently serving as its program director. As principal of Hart Government Relations in Cambridge, she develops and directs government relations strategy on behalf of nonprofit health and human services organizations. She served as the director of the Office of Health Policy in the administration of Gov. Michael Dukakis and has been assistant commissioner for community health, director of the Office of Health Education and Information, and chief of staff at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. She has been a member of numerous boards of directors including the Cambridge Health Alliance, Cambridge City Hospital, Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, and has served at the chair of the Cambridge-Somerville Health Policy Board.

1. Do I need a background in health care?

2. Field experience and placements?

3. Why choose Regis for your MHA?

4. What is the difference between an MHA and an MBA?

5. What should international students know? Certifications?

6. What is the career outlook for MHA grads? What do employers prefer?



Mary Ann Hart, “Accountable Care Organizations: The Future of Care Delivery?,” American Journal of Nursing, 112 (2), (2012): 23-26.

Mary Ann Hart, “Health Reform in Massachusetts: Is It Working?,” American Journal of Nursing, 109 (2), (2009): 77–81.

Mary Ann Hart, “Massachusetts: Expanding Access to Care. The Health Care Access and Affordability Act,” American Journal of Nursing, 106(10), (2006): 38-39.

Mary Ann Hart, “Massachusetts’ Strategy for Financing Health Care for the Uninsured,” in Policy & Politics in Nursing and Health Care, D.J. Mason, J.K. Leavitt, & M.W. Chaffee (eds.) (St. Louis: Saunders Elsevier, 2007), 408-414.

J.A. Pulcini and Mary Ann Hart, “Financing Health Care in the United States,” in Policy & Politics in Nursing and Health Care, (St. Louis: Saunders Elsevier, 2007), 384-408.

J.A. Pulcini and Mary Ann Hart, “The Politics of Advanced Practice Nursing,” in Policy & Politics in Nursing and Health Care, D.J. Mason, J.K. Leavitt, & M.W. Chaffee (Eds.), (St. Louis: Saunders



Alicia Singh: Is previous healthcare management experience required for the program?

Mary Ann Hart: No, we welcome people who are working or educated in other fields. We have had this approach in other on campus programs as well. It turns out to be a really good combination of people who want to be in healthcare, as well as people who have worked in healthcare for a while and perhaps want to be candidates for promotions, and want to claim a Masters. And there’s another group, those straight out of college, new graduates who want to enter the field. Previous experience in healthcare is not required. We think we are a unique institution in that regard. It has proven to be a very rich learning environment, and makes for a very diverse and interesting program, people who have different experiences and perspectives.

Alicia Singh: What would be defined as healthcare management experience?

Mary Ann Hart: We’ve defined it as 2 years of experience in healthcare setting with 1 of those 2 years being in management position. It’s subject to the decision of to the program director whether or not the management experience is adequate to waive the field experience requirement. It could be management of a project, or of a unit (people manager) within a healthcare organization. It would be looked at on a case by case basis. Sometimes people do have that level of experience. It could be that after their requirement is waived, a student could still be advised to do the field experience – if they wish to work in a different area of healthcare, if they want to use the field experience as a networking opportunity.

Field Experience and Placements

Alicia Singh: Do students secure their own sites or mentors, or can they use their current place
of employment for their field experience?

Mary Ann Hart: Students can use their place of employment but they must go another area in their institution. They cannot just do what they’re doing as part of their job. In some cases, they do stay in the same setting where they work, but they do something very different for 100 hours (that’s the requirement). Maybe they team up with a coworker or another supervisor that’s doing different kind of work. It’s much less about the actual setting, and more about the type of work. The field experience also involves doing a project or participating in a project – could be some form of research, or putting together an orientation manual for employees. It involves a project and it can’t just be your job, but could be in the same setting as your job but something different.

Alicia Singh: Is there any coursework involved while students are completing the field

Mary Ann Hart: Yes, the coursework would involve regular (probably weekly) discussion board postings about your field experience that would be shared with the faculty and students. It might involve some reading that has to do with pertinent topics in management that perhaps students are experiencing in their field setting. It could involve the development of a poster, as well as a short paper on some aspect of the experience that the student wishes to focus on.

Alicia Singh: Can the students choose how they present their field experience project?

Mary Ann Hart: There are some guidelines for presentation. They can choose the area in which they would like to focus on. For example, if the student has participated in a research project in that setting, they could focus on actually what they did in that setting or they might focus on that topic. A very common kind of project that is going on in healthcare settings now are work flow studies. Work Flow is a big health quality issue where it might sound not exciting but it actually is. It has to do with patient wait time, patient satisfaction, and maybe even a clinical issue, e.g. wait times in a pre-op setting, which has ramifications for health and well-being of the patient directly as well. It could be on the topic, best practices around some of these topics, and/ or it could be a particular focus on research that the student has done.

Why choose an MHA with Regis instead of an MBA?

Alicia Singh: What sets the Regis Masters health administration program apart from other
schools who offer this program as well?

Mary Ann Hart: Our program on campus started in 2009, really before many of the more recent programs, and particularly online programs, developed. We’ve got a really solid foothold in this area in the greater Boston area. Our campus is 11 miles from Boston. We were really able to draw on some of the finest managers and health administrators in some of our big Boston teaching hospitals. People come here from all over the world – to name a few, Mass
General hospital, Brigham Women’s Hospital, Joslin Diabetes Clinic, Boston Children’s Hospital. These are all very well-known and very large healthcare organizations. We recruited faculty that are actually in practice in healthcare management and healthcare administration. We have practicing administrators, managers of financial analysis, people who are budget managers, we have a former CEO of a large Boston teaching hospital, who teaches healthcare economics with
us. We have a long-time faculty member who is now a CEO of another large Boston hospital. There are a lot of jobs out there in Health administration that are particularly in the area of healthcare quality management. We have who have expertise in healthcare quality management teaching at Regis. We were able to draw on some very great talent. These are
also faculty who are teaching online. It’s not only the quality of the faculty teaching who make us unique, but these are also people who love working with students and help students with finding a placement where they live, and giving advice on how to go about that. They have really been key to mentoring students and helping them reach their career goals post-graduation.

Your placement would be near where you live. Our faculty will help students secure their own placement, but provide lots of guidance on how to go about doing that. That happens even in the Boston area. We see that there is tremendous value getting out there and networking. Networking is probably the most important part of your career. So getting out and reaching out to people, to find a field placement, whether or not the field placement comes to fruition, those are contacts that you’ve made that you can call on later on. We’ve had many examples of this, of students who say, “hey we didn’t do a field placement together, but I contacted you, and was recommended by a particular faculty, and now I’m wondering if you have any open positions and whether we can get together to talk about this”. We can help students and give advice on how to go about this in their own community.

Alicia Singh: What would you say is the difference between a Master in Health Administration degree, vs. an MBA in Healthcare?

Mary Ann Hart: Students are probably deciding what degree to go for, looking at different programs. An MBA is less oriented around healthcare. Usually, it involves a Master in Business Administration curriculum with a couple of Healthcare courses tacked on. You might be taking some courses in an MBA that may not be all that relevant in Healthcare, but more soft of generic business courses. The Master in Health Administration is a Masters degree in the Business of Healthcare. Every single course, even the business courses, like management accounting or financial analysis, they are all in healthcare. Healthcare is integrated into every course. It’s not just a couple of courses tacked onto the curriculum. I think this makes a big difference. Healthcare is not just a business, it’s much more than that. It’s a combination of private and public systems. We have people who are insured by their public insurers, we have people who are insured by private health insurance, and we have public and private providers and players. It’s not a typical business. By having the business of healthcare, and having healthcare integrated in each course, it’s a much better experience and much more relevant. The other thing our curriculum does, because we are both public and private, we have big emphasis on healthcare policy. That means that we recognize the important role of government in our healthcare system, not only as insurer, but in relation to regulation of the entire healthcare system.

Alicia Singh: What do employers think? Would they rather see an MBA or an MHA, or a degree like Healthcare Management?

Mary Ann Hart: I’ve asked this question to some of the faculty who are managers in some of our downtown hospitals. They all say that MHA is a better fit because the healthcare environment isn’t a typical business. A lot of these employers think the same way.

What should international students know? What is the career outlook for MHA grads?

Alicia Singh: Are international students eligible to apply for the Health Administration program?

Mary Ann Hart: They certainly are. We recommend that they do, because we pride ourselves on diversity of the student body. It enriches what we do to have students from other places share their thoughts and how their systems work. Nowadays, especially online, there really are no barriers. Students can do their field experience in their own country. We think international students are a great asset to our program.

Alicia Singh: For those that are international coming into the program, do their foreign healthcare management experience count towards the field experience requirement?

Mary Ann Hart: Yes, certainly it would. We would look at each case and talk to the students about their career goals. If the student had healthcare experience in another country, but then is moving to the United States and planning to stay here and work after graduation, we might say that technically they don’t have to do the field experience, but we recommend that they do because they’re going to learn more about the system by doing, and make very important contacts which they can call on after graduation. It would depend on the student too, they might want to waive the requirement, or they might want to take part in the experience and see what the American healthcare system is like. We would work with the student to see what their desires and career goals are.

Alicia Singh: Are there any licensures or certifications available after completion of the program?

Mary Ann Hart: Yes, there are. One of them is from the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), and they have a fellowship program. The certification is based on an exam and some actual experience in the healthcare setting. Each state has their own certification to be, for example, a nursing home administrator. There are certifications in long term care that differ from state to state in their requirements. These are some certifications that students can apply for after graduation. Typically it requires some period of employment before you can actually get certified.

Alicia Singh: What kind of employment opportunities would be available to a student after graduating from the Master Health Administration program?

Mary Ann Hart: Our students have really gotten hired very quickly. What I tell people when they ask what a health administrator do, or what a healthcare manager. Wherever there is a department or a unit at a healthcare organization, there are managers. They might have a network of a hospital, or other home care agencies, long term healthcare facilities, etc. You go to any place, and within those organizations, there are people who are directors or assistant directors of cardiac surgeries of outpatient clinics. Healthcare is expanding all the time, that has to do with the affordable care act, the fact that more Americans have health insurance than ever before. It’s an area of economic growth and there are jobs. When you graduate from the program, what you are qualified to do, the job opportunities vary depending on your prior experience. If you are a graduate from Healthcare Administration and have no healthcare experience whatsoever, you might have to come in on a more entry-level position, however, those places give employees preference for promotions and advancement. If you’ve had healthcare experience and you’re a graduate with a Masters degree, that really signals your ambition to advance in the field.

Alicia Singh: By your knowledge or experiences, would you say employers would prefer an individual who has a Masters in Health Administration vs and MBA?

Mary Ann Hart: The people that we have in our program see the MHA as a very strong degree compared to an MBA, particularly in areas or jobs that aren’t solely accounting or budgeting. They see students coming in with a bigger picture. In our experience, the answer is yes. We have an intro course called, “Conflicts in Health Administration”, and the more advanced course called, “Strategic Management of healthcare organizations”, whereas an MBA might have a Strategy Management course, but not as it pertains to healthcare. We teach the principles as well as the application to the healthcare setting.

Alicia Singh: Regarding the curriculum in the Healthcare Administration program, would you say the curriculum is more focused on healthcare with business undertones?

Mary Ann Hart: Right, business integrated into the healthcare setting. Other business-related courses include healthcare quality management. That’s a big area of interest and there are a lot of jobs in that area. There’s also Management Accounting, Financial Analysis in Healthcare Administration. So, not just Financial Analysis, but Financial Analysis in Healthcare Administration. Management Accounting in Healthcare Administration, so looking at financial principles as they apply to the healthcare setting. Not just the generic business courses. Then we have the policy-focused courses, Healthcare Policy and Perspectives, and that is an introduction to US healthcare systems, policy and politics. We also have Healthcare Economics, which also has to do with policy and politics. We have a course in public relations which is healthcare oriented, and also health informatics, a very important area we haven’t talked about. Health Informatics is an area where there is tremendous need for folks. I recently spoke to an executive at one of our biggest health insurance companies here in Massachusetts, and she just told me that they can’t even fill the health informatics positions. They don’t have enough people. We have an internship with this company and they pay our students who apply and participate. And the idea is that they would potentially get jobs there after graduation.

Alicia Singh: Curriculum prepares individuals for the real world. The informatics course could help them secure jobs after they finish their degrees.