Kellogg World Alumni Magazine Winter 2005Kellogg School of Management
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  Mary Sheehan
  Mary Sheehan '01
  Dorothy Healy
  Dorothy Pitner Healy '86
Alumni Newsmakers
  James Pitts '95 and William Lampley '94
  Daniel José Custódio '05
  Dorothy Pitner Healy '86 and Mary Sheehan '01
  David Darragh '93

MBA the prescription for healthcare management

by Chris Van Nostrand

As colleagues at Midwest Palliative and Hospice Care Center, nurses-turned-nonprofit-leaders Dorothy Pitner Healy '86 and Mary Sheehan '01 illustrate how the MBA has become a valued degree in the medical field over the last 20 years. Healy, the organization's president and CEO, graduated from the Kellogg School's Executive Master's Program (EMP-13) to find that her expertise and education were difficult to sell to potential employers. "At that time, they really didn't know what to do with a nurse who had an MBA," says Healy. Sheehan, meanwhile, serves as proof of a real industry shift: She enrolled in EMP-43 as part of a natural career transition from long-time hospice nurse to COO.

Healy has helped adapt business models in the healthcare industry. Under her leadership, Midwest Palliative has grown from a small, regional organization once simply known as Hospice of the North Shore to an expansive health-service provider. When she agreed to run the center in 1990 she inherited a budget of $500,000. The 2004-2005 budget was $26 million.

Growth is also evident in patient care. When Healy walked into her first day on the job 15 years ago, she discovered seven full-time employees and five hospice patients (though the organization leveraged the talents of many volunteers at that time). Today, 350 staff members care for 1,100 patients in the firm's hospice and the palliative care sectors.

The cornerstone of this expanded service is a $15 million Glenview facility that opened in August, which Sheehan describes as a way of increasing the organization's visibility. "We're hoping that this building is ... a bridge to the community," she says. "We want the public to know that they can go to us for resources and help." The community clearly responded to that call, as almost the entire cost of the center was met through contributions from local individuals and businesses.

Healy and Sheehan move fluidly between speaking about patient care and operational issues, key evidence that their former careers intersect naturally with a Kellogg School education and that the healthcare industry finds great value in the MBA degree. Sheehan points to Healy as a mentor through the EMP experience and job change. Healy's journey began without any model to follow, and yet her own career arc now serves as a guide: "If I had planned it all out, it couldn't haven gone any more perfectly for me."

©2002 Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University