Westfield State launches new grad degree concentration, certificate in public health administration

Westfield State University’s College of Graduate and Continuing Education (CGCE) has launched a new graduate degree concentration and certificate program that focuses on public health care administration. The Master of Public Administration (MPA) in public health care administration concentration and the public health care administration certificate were approved recently by the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education.

“Public health care is a priority, now more than ever, and we are excited about Westfield State’s new MPA in public health care administration concentration and certificate program, because their curriculum provides an opportunity to better support our public health care system with high-quality, skilled workers,” said CGCE Interim Dean Stefanie Sanchez, Ed.D. “The degree concentration—or the standalone certificate—addresses an ongoing need for health care leaders and administrators in several different capacities. With a focus on management and leadership, both options provide a clear path for advancement in the workforce.” 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment outlook for health care managers is strong and projected to grow 32 percent through 2029—much faster than the average for all occupations. As the large Baby-Boom population ages, and people remain active later in life, an increase in the demand for health care services is expected.

Graduates of the degree and certificate programs will be prepared to take on public health care challenges as government and nonprofit leaders, where they will lead the charge to create healthier communities. Students in both interdisciplinary programs benefit from an inclusive, supportive environment in which faculty are committed to their success and where they build relationships with their classmates that will continue long after they graduate. They will learn from full-time faculty and practitioners whose expertise is in nursing, biology, communications, healthcare economics, and policy. 

MPA Program Director Charles DiStefano, Ph.D., explained that for many years, public service leaders in western Massachusetts have developed leadership and management skills in public management, non-profit management, and criminal justice administration through Westfield State’s MPA program. Now, future leaders seeking to make their mark in public health care administration can benefit from the same specialized opportunity. Additionally, successful public health care administrators are leaders within their agencies who effectively gain and foster political allies, nurture relationships within their communities, and build public trust, according to Professor DiStefano.

“We have seen during the COVID-19 pandemic amazing examples of strong, effective leaders at the federal, state, and local levels,” he said, adding, “and we have felt the effects of failures by public health care officials. By offering this concentration and certificate now, we demonstrate Westfield State’s commitment to nurturing leaders in the public health care community who will not succumb to fear or pressure from special interests, and who instead act in our collective best interest to keep us safe and healthy.”

Those who have a desire to develop and apply knowledge, interpersonal skills, leadership, and analytical capability in a meaningful way to improve the health care system should consider enrolling in either the new concentration or certificate program, according to Jessica Holden, DNP, RN, NPD-BC, assistant professor of nursing and allied health at Westfield State University.

“There is a need for health care leaders who are independent thinkers, understand the requirements of our current health care system, and who have a passion to serve their communities and the population at large,” she said. “Given our current unprecedented times, now is a vital time to offer this concentration and certificate. Graduates will be prepared to engage in the rigor of community advocacy and influencing local, state, and federal governments.”

“With the United States health care system in such debate, we need individuals who are committed to outreach and advocacy and who can serve as the voice, especially for our underserved and marginalized populations,” added Professor Holden. “In addition, with so much of our health care services moving out of hospitals, now is a critical time to have professionals prepared to lead in alternate settings.”

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