In August, a new program was introduced to Missouri Southern. The Gipson Center for Healthcare Leadership features a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration.

The degree is essentially a business degree with an emphasis in healthcare, according to Melinda Brown, director of the Gipson Center.

Brown said this degree will allow students enrolled to get a mid-level entry position in the healthcare field, where career opportunities include health insurance specialist, hospital and health systems management, and pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.

According to Brown, between 2019 and 2026, there will be a 22% job increase in the healthcare administration field.

Administrators from both Mercy and Freeman hospitals have been supportive of the degree, which includes allowing students in the program to do internships in order to gain firsthand experience in the field.

Not only is it an opportunity for students interested in the field, but it is easily accessible to local students.

The Gipson Center for Healthcare Leadership is the first center here at Missouri Southern, she said. There are similar programs located in Tahlequah, OK., Wichita, Kansas, and St. Louis.

The program was a vision of Dr. Richard Schooler, dean of the school of health sciences and executive director of the Gipson Center.

Development of the program meant that it needed approval from the Higher Learning Commission for accreditation.

The upper division courses will be taught by people who work in the healthcare field, so rather than just learning from a book, the students know what is happening currently. Students will be informed on things happening on the financial side, in leadership, and what sort of things they will run into when interacting with patients.

Brown said that part of the degree program will help the students improve patients’ hospital experience.

Brown said that she hopes to see more students in the healthcare field to stay locally, be able to go into the workforce and cite the Gipson Center as part of their education experience.

In addition to the general education classes, the degree is a mix of business courses and healthcare course.

Brown said healthcare is ever-changing, where things such as information technology (IT) start playing more of a role in the field.

“Business plays a huge role [in healthcare],” she said. “You have to know the business side of healthcare in order to run a health system properly, whether it is from the financial side or the IT side of it.”

The classrooms and faculty offices are located in the same space, so there is more opportunity for communication and activity between the two.

The Gipson Center space includes offices, two classrooms, as well as two conference rooms.

The center was named after Southern Board of Governor Chair Bill Gipson because he and his wife Tracy made a $1 million donation to the program.

Along with that, Schooler and his wife Cheryl made a six- figure contribution, according to Brown.

“ The reason that [my wife and I] got involved was because Dr. Schooler, a few months ago, laid out this plan for this center and new degree program, and we were very much interested in that, so we put in some financial resources towards making it happen,” Gipson said.

He said he was excited for students of the program to enter the eld.

“We have really great leadership there, in Dr. Schooler and Melinda, and they’re the ones with their boots in the ground, making it happen.” 

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