Each Wednesday at 3 pm, two dozen graduate students from the Masters in Public Health - Health Management & Policy program at the Graduate School of Public Health at San Diego State University (SDSU) file into Sharp HealthCare's corporate offices in Kearny Mesa. They sit poised to learn, minds full of questions. Among these students are the future leaders and innovators of health care systems in San Diego and around the world. In this class, they learn from today's health care leaders, including Sharp executives.
After their first course in late January, which provided an overview of the semester's expectations, they were off and running with a different Sharp HealthCare leader as their presenter for each weekly class. They're getting rigorous, theoretical training in the health care industry — a deep dive each session learning how these leaders help Sharp operate on a daily basis.
"This is certainly a transformational opportunity for students, since they are able to interact directly with experts in the field. You cannot buy this kind of exposure," says Melody Schiaffino, PhD, MPH, assistant professor at SDSU's Graduate School of Public Health and course instructor. "To see the incredible professionalism of Sharp leaders and to watch them interact with the students is just wonderful."
Each leader prepares his or her lesson plan or presentation on a chosen topic. The students are engaged as their eyes focus on the statistics and trends projected onto the large white boards. They ask challenging questions, oftentimes making presenters stop and think.
"Students get a much more in-depth understanding of our areas of expertise," says Michael W. Murphy, president and CEO of Sharp HealthCare. "Whether that includes governance, the health plan, purchasing, IT, marketing or finance, they get much more than just a few minutes of our time."
Murphy and other Sharp executives have presented to and led classes for SDSU graduate students for more than a decade, recognizing the value of hearing directly from industry leaders about the past, present and future of health care.
"For us, we can offer students a better understanding of what we do as an organization," he says. "They can hear details of significant areas of our operations and a closer look at the health care marketplace here in San Diego, statewide and nationally."
Current student and recent Sharp hire Valerie Provenza appreciates learning from the executive team. "It is inspiring to hear from health care leaders who truly understand the importance of excellent care delivery as well as major trends and challenges facing the industry," she says.
Sharp employee Elizabeth Rains, who recently completed the MPH program, appreciated learning about how the pieces of a large organization like Sharp work together to form a successful whole.
"Not only did it contextualize what I had learned throughout the Health Management and Policy program at SDSU, it also convinced me even further that Sharp was where I wanted to be after I graduated," she says.