Online Program Helps Grad Jumpstart Health Career
At 24, Amanda Terry is advancing in her field, her company, and her education — building on the momentum that began with a decision to pursue an online bachelor’s degree.
Terry was born and raised in Lafayette and enrolled at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s nursing program because she wanted to, “help people and work in the health field.”
But when she began her clinicals, she felt her future might lie in hospital operations, instead of hands-on patient care.
“I thought I could still help people but on the business side of the hospital,” she says.
As she began exploring her options, she found UL Lafayette’s online Health Services Administration program, also within the School of Nursing and Allied Health.
Terry spoke with an advisor about the program, who helped her identify how her coursework would proceed and what her career might look like.
The program uses an interdisciplinary approach to train students to meet the changing healthcare industry through administrative and operational roles. It also serves as preparation for entry into master's degree programs.
“It was one of the best decisions I had made,” she says, “To have a great blend of health care and business helped to make me a well-rounded professional. I didn’t realize the vast amount of opportunities out there for someone with that degree, especially at a company like Schumacher.”
Learning online allowed Terry to begin working part-time and as an intern with Schumacher Clinical Partners during her senior year. Upon graduation, the company offered her a full-time position.
Terry was able to leverage that experience into a new position with the company and is now a managed care contract associate.
“I’m leaps and bounds doing greater things than I thought,” Terry says. “I was able to get my foot in the door sooner than later because of the opportunity to be online.”
In her current role, Terry is responsible for negotiating contracts between health providers and health insurance plans, analyzing and weighing an array of factors from state and federal regulations to regional socio-economic demographics.
Being able to enter that role with a solid understanding of the American Disabilities Act, how insurance and reimbursement works, and an overall familiarity with industry terminology was vital, says Terry.
Learning online also gave Terry the opportunity to develop and strengthen organizational skills she’s been able to take into the workplace, as well as her everyday life.
“There was some apprehension about the online aspect. There’s kind of a stigma around online classes,” she says. “But, honestly, they’re a little more difficult than lecture classes in terms of the time management and self-motivation that you have to teach yourself. That’s something I’m very glad I learned through the HSA program.
“It definitely helped in all aspects of my life, learning how to stay organized and manage my time properly and how to get things done in a timely manner. It was good practice for navigating the corporate world.”
Despite the remote nature of her courses, Terry formed bonds with her peers as well as professors.
“The number one thing that saved me was making friends with other people in the program who were on the same track as me,” she says.
“Some of those girls lived in Lafayette so we had study groups together and bounced things off each other. It really helped to have that support group.”
Terry has maintained a relationship with Dr. Rachel Ellison, Health Services Administration Program director, who she says was helpful both during and after the program and even recently wrote a letter of recommendation for Terry.
The experience of earning an undergraduate degree online gave Terry the confidence to pursue her MBA online, as well.
“I didn’t have the adjustment period when I started my MBA because I already got the hang of it through the HSA program,” she says. “I already knew what I needed to do, the best way that I learn, and how to balance everything.
“Since I was already working at Schumacher, having the online MBA program available was great because I didn’t want to have to quit my job, and this gave me the opportunity to do both.”
She’s set to graduate in May with a concentration in sales leadership from UL Lafayette’s online MBA program, which she said will add even more tools to her toolbox when coupled with her ever-growing health care knowledge.
Explore which online degree or certificate may be right for you by visiting online.louisiana.edu and selecting from among our undergraduate, graduate, or graduate certificate programs for more information.