In this student spotlight, Kayla Gritzmacher recalls her experience as she considered her educational future. How she decided on a Doctor of Business Administration program and choosing Concordia University Wisconsin. She also tells about her experience in the program so far and what she hopes for her future after earning her DBA.
What is your current job?
I am currently working as a Director of Clinical Services with a Home Hospice Company in Milwaukee, WI.
What inspired you to pursue your DBA?
I was approaching the completion of my master’s degree in Nursing Leadership and trying to decide what I wanted to do after graduation. I knew that I had placed the majority of my education-focus on my clinical skills. However, I felt my non-clinical skills needed more development. Since obtaining my RN license, I have worked primarily in leadership roles. To continue progressing up the corporate ladder, I would need to learn the business operation side of healthcare administration.
I was not sure what degree I would need to pursue, but I had looked through Concordia’s offerings. It was during an exploration call with an admissions counselor, when this new DBA program was brought up. After learning what the program entailed and speaking with a mentor of mine, I decided this degree would present me with the skills I needed. Furthermore, it also offers a variety of opportunities to me after graduation.
Why did you choose Concordia?
Concordia University is local to where I live and has always held a positive reputation within the community. While I really discovered this specific program by a series of clicks through graduate degrees online, I believe that everything in my life happens for a reason and this program was something I was meant to find and be a part of.
Why did you choose the Healthcare Administration concentration?
I did look at the other concentration options but with my entire career being in healthcare, I felt that this concentration would serve me best for skill development. Healthcare is where my heart has always been and will continue to be throughout my career, it just felt like the right path to choose for the DBA program.
What do you like about the cohort format?
For me, the best part of the cohort format is the relationships that I have formed with my fellow students. We really have bonded and rely on each other when we are facing challenges, both in our personal lives and in the coursework. These relationships were mostly formed during the unique process of beginning the program with an on-campus residency. Having that support system in place on the front-end has been a pillar to my success in this program.
I also like the flow of the classes we take and the scheduling of certain classes. For example, working on our dissertation over a longer period of time. The chapter focus classes are spread out and this last Fall we wrote our first section, the literature review. Now, after this current 8-week course, we will write our Chapter 1. It’s exciting to be making real progress on such a massive project!
Furthermore, I think having each class being 8 weeks in duration helps keep the program manageable. We are not handed an overwhelming amount of coursework all at one time. I would say up until this point (1.5 years into the program), I have not felt overwhelmed with the requirements of the degree. I know that as I approach year 3, the requirements will increase, and I will feel the pressure and drive to finish strong. However, Concordia has been preparing me for this large task of completing my dissertation over the past year and half of coursework. I know I’ll finish, and it will be well worth the effort.
What course has had the biggest impact on you so far?
This is a difficult choice, because I truly feel that every class in this program has made significant impacts on me. For example, in the leadership focused classes, I learned how to carry out research in both qualitative and quantitative methods. More recently, my healthcare finance class is providing education that’s improving my healthcare work, today. Every single class has taught me more skills than I had anticipated going into this degree.
If I had to choose one class though, I would say my qualitative research class. Now, my dissertation research is based in quantitative methods. However, while taking this qualitative class I realized what a great impact these methods have on the healthcare industry. Going into the class, I thought I had an idea of what qualitative research would entail, but I was quickly proven otherwise. Our coursework consisted of carrying out a very small research study. While doing these assignments, I realized that following graduation I will likely move towards qualitative methods for future research. With the current situation in the healthcare world, there is much I can observe, analyze, and communicate to society. Especially regarding the global changes we are seeing and experiences of workers in the field.
What has been your most memorable experience in the DBA program?
Again, the residency component has been the most memorable experience for me. There is something special about being physically present on the campus, which is absolutely beautiful, and feeling that connection with your fellow cohorts and professors. During our first residency, we started creating those relationships with each other and also started working on our research topics. Day one included discussions about what we saw as the focus of our dissertation. While that original research plan has changed, it was the experience of learning and collaborating with others that made the difference.
How have the faculty supported you?
The CUW faculty are by far some of the most caring, dedicated, and amazing individuals I have met in my academic life. You can tell that they truly are our biggest supporters and are rooting for us all to reach graduation day. The regular check-ins became more important than I thought. And my chair being available to talk to me when I was having those feelings of doubt or anxiety. Then the feedback given during our classes, all of this support I have never experienced before.
I can think of a few instances where I was having doubt about my research topic, my ability to complete the program, and stress in my work life and home life. For example, I was able to send my chair an email and have him respond with words of encouragement. This email was then followed up with a meeting to discuss further. In truth, I would not be this far into the program without that support system.
How has the DBA program transformed you so far?
I think the biggest transformation I have experienced is the confidence I’ve gained within my personal and professional life. My ability to handle tasks at work has significantly increased since starting this program. I have learned how to better support my staff, carry out quality improvement initiatives, and support clinical decisions with evidence-based research. Also, I enjoy talking about my research interests with others. What’s more, my interest in conducting research has also changed since starting this program. I have seen how impactful research can be and believe that I will find fulfillment in my lifetime being able to properly conduct research and make those impacts on society and the healthcare industry.
What are your professional goals when you graduate?
This topic has been something I frequently think about. I have discussed it with my mentors and with my chair here at Concordia. Frankly, I do not know, I’m confident doors will open to me that I never imagined possible. I could see myself teaching, carrying out impactful research, or touring the country talking about leadership in healthcare. I feel that the possibilities will be many. Most importantly, I will have the tools and skills needed to achieve my ultimate goal of making positive impacts on the healthcare industry.
Please share something interesting about yourself (hobbies, family, etc.)
I live locally to Concordia University, being only about a 30-minute drive. I have been with my significant other for 9 years and we have four cats, Meeko, Mowgli, Enzo, and Simba, and our 4-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Willow. We enjoy frequent camping trips to the motocross tracks on weekends in the Summer spent with family and friends. I am an avid Disney fanatic with an annual pass, and I am a member of the Disney Vacation Club. I try to get down there about every other month with a majority of those trips being solo, sometimes even just 24 hours on a weekend.
We are so thankful for Kayla’s contribution to our program and can’t wait to share how she impacts the healthcare industry in the future! If you would like to read more about how our DBA program can impact your work, check out our article on Creating a Healing Organization. Or, learn more about our school of business linked below.