For online Executive Master of Health Administration (EMHA) student Diana Qi, health care was not a first love.
Early in her career, Qi, who is bilingual, had aspirations to pursue a position in overseas business, and she focused on marketing management and international business throughout her undergraduate studies.
While she went on to work in software marketing and sales development for more than a decade, a career break later inspired Qi to reconsider her life path.
“When I had my second son, I took a break and kind of reevaluated my career and thought about where I want to go and accomplish the next 10 or 20 years. So, I did a substantial amount of research, and as much as I love technology and I still do, I feel like there’s a lot more potential and room for growth and just so much to learn in health care. That’s when I started to research into shifting my career path,” Qi told USC Online.
That research included health care classes at a local university, consulting with different advisors and companies, and doing plenty of online exploration. Amidst this investigative phase, she was even hired at a local community hospital, which helped reinforce that health care administration was the correct next step for her. Eventually, Qi determined she would need additional education to succeed in her newfound passion, and she decided upon the online EMHA program as a top choice.
Offered by USC Sol Price School of Public Policy, the EMHA online program prepares students to become leaders who are tasked with transforming and improving the health care system. Graduates come away from the program with a deeper understanding of administrative initiatives and are equipped to breach the C-suite at hospitals, clinics and more.
Qi pointed to two essential parts of the program that helped make USC the right decision. It’s online and flexible, which is a must for a working professional — it’s allowed her to thrive in both her career and schoolwork at the same time. She also noted that USC’s stellar reputation played a big role in her decision to enter the program.
“It gives me peace of mind that I’m getting the best education … USC is by far one of the smartest choices I’ve ever made because not only does the criteria fit in terms of what I’m trying to learn about and capitalize in health care, but being in health care administration already, the master’s program really helps me accelerate the different type of goals that I wanted to accomplish. I definitely needed to get that education under my belt, and luckily, it worked out,” Qi, who is now working as the program and project coordinator at Stanford Health Care in Silicon Valley, explained.
When it comes to the EMHA classes and coursework — which focus on topics such as health information systems, quality of care concepts, and managing organizations’ financial health — Qi loves their discussion-based format, which encourages students to share their own experiences and opinions.
“It is just like one big family sitting around on Zoom discussing all these various issues that we face in health care, and then how we can exchange ideas and really find better ways or new ways to engage in health care to overcome these challenges,” she said.
Qi also pointed toward the professors as being a highlight of the master’s program. They act as mentors, she explained, providing students with the necessary guidance to become executive leaders in health care. They also, however, give students the room to take those pointers and chart their own paths. All in all, it’s an encouraging environment with plenty of room to grow and experiment.
“I feel like one of the most influential factors that I really appreciate about USC is the fact that the classes are really respectful. You could be new in health care, or you could be this executive in health care. USC cultivates each one of us to think in our own right, to think for ourselves, to kind of understand that you need to do your own research, you need to think critically, and you need to put in the work to really engage in a conversation,” she said.
Qi is graduating in the spring of 2022, and she is looking forward to tackling several goals after receiving her diploma. On the top of her list is obtaining a Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification. She also noted she wants to enroll in data mining and analytics classes, describing the practice as “the future” of many careers.
When asked what she would tell others considering the EMHA program, she advised potential students to not be intimidated and to be sure to ask questions. Do the research to determine what exactly you want to do in life, and once you discover that, it can all fall into place, she described.
“I think education opens the door to different possibilities and opportunities … There are so many fields you can go into … USC definitely gave me that broader and macro picture so that I can go micro and pick out what I want to focus on for the next five to 10 years,” she explained.
As a working mother, it’s been thrilling for Qi to realize what she can accomplish at USC — motherhood, career and education are all well within her grasp.
“It’s exciting because people always think that once you have kids, once you start working, you don’t have these opportunities anymore. But it’s not true if you really want it. USC … provides the education, the network [and] the professional knowledge,” Qi said. “There have been times where I’m just going to the park, pushing my son’s stroller and being in class at the same time, trying to get my discussions done … If you can still gain your education while taking care of your kids, it’s the best feeling ever. Not only are you setting a good example for your kids that you never stop learning, but [you’re gaining] opportunities. You can do it, I promise.”
Learn more about the Executive Master of Health Administration online program today.