Professional degree a must-have

February 28, 2013 in Medical Technology

The cost is high, starting anywhere from $75,000 to $150,000. The personal price is considerable as well, taking time from family and other priorities. And amid the Great Recession, enrollment has dropped and the ROI is being questioned.

Still, would a professional degree, such as an MBA or MPH, boost your career?

Absolutely, said Herb Smaltz, Ph.D.. He is the chief executive officer of Health Care DataWorks, Inc., an Ohio-based firm that helps clients leverage data analytics and business intelligence. Time and again, Smaltz said, he’s drawn on the experience he enjoyed earning an MBA from Ohio State University. Time and again, he’s reaped the benefits.

While the hefty price tag of a degree today is not to be ignored, neither are the two key benefits to earning one: the knowledge you gain and the people you meet.

Smaltz points to the transformative experience of graduate school. In his case, it was learning theories such as Michael Porter’s Competitive Strategy, a framework for analyzing industries and competitors. “You’re exposed to methodologies that are quite useful in your job as a healthcare leader,” he said.

Equally important is the network you build. “Classmates will become lifelong colleagues,” Smaltz said. “It’s not just your class. The program’s alumni base provides an extended network.”

Combining a professional degree with HIMSS professional certification programs and networking opportunities such as those provided by HIMSS Career Services holds tremendous promise for younger professionals.

HIMSS Career Services, Smaltz said, “is doing a wonderful job, providing a great resource for those who are up and coming. The mentoring is particularly advantageous.”

Smaltz said that he was fortunate to have mentors, CEOs and COOs, who helped him find the right path. He said, “They drove home the need to understand the business. They taught me that the CIO is a business leader first, and an IT leader second.”

Smaltz is continuing that mentoring tradition, serving as a HIMSS Executive eMentor.

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