HAP preceptors from Inova Mount Vernon Roberta Tinch and Stacey Schaab highlight why Mason real-world experience is irreplaceable for students
Gaining practical experience through internships and practicums is essential to a Mason health administration degree because it builds the skills and confidence needed to excel in any chosen career path. Roberta Tinch and Stacey Schaab, administrators at Inova Mount Vernon Hospital who serve as preceptors for Mason’s health administration program, share an enthusiasm for Mason students and creating the next generation of health administrators.
As future health administrators, students receive guidance from field experts and learn important skills for the job, such as the tools needed to operate a hospital and the importance of resource management.
“I’ve always encouraged a spirit of inquiry and Mason students consistently come with positive attitudes, excited about this opportunity,” said Tinch, MHA, FACHE, president of Inova Mount Vernon Hospital and vice president and administrator, Inova Musculoskeletal Service Line.
Before beginning their internship at Inova Mount Vernon Hospital, students are required to complete Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Institute Healthcare Improvement (IHI) Quality and Patient Safety trainings. By the time the program begins, students are prepared to analyze strategy, evaluate data, and implement patient interaction procedures.
“It’s amazing what they come prepared with,” said Schaab, Inova Mount Vernon Senior Director of Nursing for Acute In Patient Rehabilitation. “Students will say, ‘we learned about this in school, but I didn’t think I would use it.’”
Though internship experiences are customized to meet the student’s unique interests, students are also exposed to different elements of running a hospital—from learning to schedule the right number of nurses for a shift, to creating a strategy for quality assurance, to the importance of patient care and speaking with patients. Interns at Inova Mount Vernon are given a well-rounded, hands-on training to prepare them for the career they want or even expose them to something they didn’t know they’d love.
“Interns move around the hospital and get exposure to so many different departments and people. The kind of projects that Stacey assigned to me when I was an intern, and [later] leading the group of interns, gave me a magnificent experience and prepared me well for my current job,” said Harsha Nayyar, BS Health Administration ’21.
In addition to demonstrating technical skills, interns from Mason show that they are willing to go above and beyond expectations.
“Mason students come with commitment, and they bring such diverse perspectives,” Schaab said. “They’re like little sponges, just so eager to learn and go the extra mile.”
In addition to learning about hospital administration, interns are able to walk step by step with researchers as their work developed, shadow physicians, and network with executive leaders. One of the many benefits of this hands-on work experience is the dynamic environment, but the one factor that never changes is that Mason College of Public Health students consistently impress both Tinch and Schaab.
“They are phenomenal,” said Schaab. “They are so energized because they are learning so much.”
The Health Administration, BS, Health Systems Management Concentration prepares students to be leaders in health care settings and graduates to serve in entry-level management, administrative and support positions. Before completing their degree, students must complete a 12-hour internship in a health-related organization.
After completing the internship, Mason students have continued at Inova Mount Vernon.
“Interns are always encouraged to apply for full time-positions,” said Tinch. “Recently, we hired a young woman as an administrative coordinator and many stay on as volunteers.”
Like Schaab, Tinch wants to foster the growth of the next generation of health administration leaders and ensure the continuation of quality care delivery. She knows how important hands-on internships are to shaping health administrators who put patients first, and is delighted to provide this for Mason students
“A program like this, that gives you access real work experience is invaluable. You can’t replace it,” said Tinch. “The internship commits to a teaching environment outside of the classroom. The only way to truly get to know a hospital is to be in it.”