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MSHC Degree: Pros vs. Cons

By: Carlyn LaGrone, Class of 2018

Prior to beginning this program, I made sure to do extensive research to determine whether or not I wanted to apply to continue my education via this program. I’m one of the most indecisive people on the planet so whenever I am faced with tough decisions, I revert to my usual strategy of how to make decisions: with a pros/cons list.

• How long will this take?
• How much will this cost?
• When are classes?
• Will I be able to balance a fulltime job with being a part-time grad student?
• Have prior students found this to be beneficial?
• What kind of jobs does someone with their MSHC try to pursue?

All of these questions came to mind as I began, trying to decide whether or not I wanted to pursue this degree. When doing my research the Northwestern MSHC site became the most useful tool as it had information regarding all of the initial/significant questions that I started to have. I can confidently say, the pros of this heavily outweighed the cons of the program (hence why I decided to apply), and that even today I find it hard to state any true cons about joining the MSHC cohort.

While the program is fairly new at Northwestern, the first cohort began their studies in 2014 graduating in 2015; the knowledge and skills being taught within it have been paramount concepts necessary to improve the healthcare system for years. Communication tools and design are the backbone of society, and before joining MSHC I had no idea how impactful they are in everyday life as well as in the healthcare realm. Not only are we exposed to a diverse course load with a diverse group of students – we are able to remain fulltime employees while completing the program which is incredible for people that must maintain their financial responsibilities (rent, daily expenses, family, etc.) while in school. Another major positive aspect of the program is the ability to complete it in one year. The one and done framework allows for students to achieve a level of higher level of education without burnout from a 3 year long program.

Furthermore being a part of this program has also exposed me to a huge network. Not only am I in class with 60+ students that are all working/connected within their current settings – we additionally have awesome professors that have a network of their own. Our professors have such interesting backgrounds and experiences, such as Dr. Lambert who is the head of the entire program and was one of the very first professors we had in Quarter 1. I felt so honored to be able to meet the person that created MSHC to begin with at NU. And beyond that accomplishment, he is one of the smartest, most interesting people involved in the healthcare world I’ve ever been able to interact with. It doesn’t stop there in terms of connections though, to top that off, we also meet a new speaker each week in our Proseminar course when we have guest lecturers. The people I am meeting through this are many I never would’ve received the chance to otherwise. From CEO’s of small healthcare startups to leadership at Lurie’s or the Alzheimer’s Association, we’ve heard from them all. We learned this all would benefit us as the more people you know, the further connected you are and the larger your social network is which can be incredibly useful for our professional endeavors and careers.

Truthfully, this program truly does not have any real cons (in my opinion). Some may tease that you are “losing Saturday’s” which can be hard for those who consider themselves pretty active/social like myself. But even with this I’ve made such great friends within the program that I enjoy spending my Saturday’s with. Additionally, some may say “isn’t it expensive?” but financial assistance options are given to help support your academic hopes to complete this program. I feel incredibly lucky to be given this exposure and room for growth with the financial support I was given because I would not be a student here without it. Joining the Northwestern family has been advantageous to my future as people recognize the school as the strong institution that it is. I am proud to say I go to school there and work hard on all my assignments knowing it is going to bring me closer to achieving my long-term goals within the healthcare world whether it’s in Chicago or beyond.