SUNY Oswego offers graduate programs to fill health care void

With the addition of the MBA in Health Services Administration (HSA) graduate program, SUNY Oswego is making strides in filling the gap for the need for specialized administrators in the health care industry.

Sarah Bonzo will be taking on the role as the Coordinator of the MBA HSA program, which has started accepting applications for Fall 2013.

Bonzo has experience in both working and researching in the health care industry and she looks forward to sharing her experience with students.

The MBA HSA program blends SUNY Oswego’s existing MBA program directed by Irene Scruton, with specialized health services administration coursework in health law, financial management of health organizations, nursing home administration, and other fundamental health care topics.

Scruton highlights that the Business School’s MBA Online program was ranked 26th in the nation this year by US News World Report.

“The MBA collaboration between business and health is a forward thinking program for professionals in a very dynamic environment,” Scruton said.

Scruton also added that the SUNY Oswego School of Business is AACSB accredited, which placed it in the top 5% of business programs globally.

New program, new director, new direction

Bonzo attended Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) where she completed a dual bachelor’s-master’s degree program in Industrial and Systems Engineering.

While attending RIT, Bonzo was given the opportunity to do a series of co-ops at Anheuser-Busch, where she spent time in both the Baldwinsville and Saint Louis plants.

“There are so many changes happening in health care. We need a lot of very capable and driven leaders that can help manage the transformation that the entire health care industry is going through. This program is a way to get more people into this exciting and growing field.” 
Sarah Bonzo 
Coordinator of the MBA Health Services Administration

Bonzo enjoyed her experience at the co-op, but decided she wanted to do something more than manufacturing, which is where the majority of industrial engineers historically work.

A faculty member discussed with Bonzo, the possibility of working in health care and opened up the opportunity to do a computer simulation of an operating room suite at Chenango Memorial Hospital in Norwich, N.Y.

“One of my interests as an undergrad was computer simulation,” Bonzo said. “It’s a way to essentially model really complex systems and understand how modifications to the process will impact the overall system.”

The opportunity at Chenango Memorial Hospital turned into a thesis and Bonzo decided to attend the University of Michigan to obtain her Ph. D. in Industrial and Operations Engineering.

“To see these principles be applied to the health industry was just fascinating and I was really intrigued by the culture and everything that was changing in the health care landscape,” Bonzo said.

While attending the University of Michigan, Bonzo worked under her advisor, Jeffrey Liker, author of "The Toyota Way" series, which allowed her to get a better understanding of lean management. This managerial practice is used to guide team members to identify opportunities in their work, problems solve, and refine improvements in a quest to continually learn and improve.

Bonzo had the opportunity to do a number of case studies at the University of Michigan Health System and used her connections back in Rochester to get exposure to the process improvement work taking place at Rochester General Health System.

Bonzo worked at Rochester General Hospital, while still completing her Ph.D., which very quickly turned into full-time employment. Bonzo has worked with Rochester General Health System for 4 years until receiving the position as Coordinator of the MBA HSA program.

“I know that teaching was something I always wanted to do and I have a number of research interests I’ve wanted to pursue,” Bonzo said. “When I got the opportunity to interview for this position, it was really exciting because I essentially get to be in both worlds because, being in the position, I get to teach and interact with students, do research in health care, but also maintain close ties to the industry.”

Why health services administration?

According to Forbes Magazine, health services administration is one of the best graduate degrees for getting a job, due to an aging population and changes in the technological advancements in health care.

While at Rochester General Health System, Bonzo worked in a number of positions including Lean Six-Sigma specialist, Manager of Operational Readiness, Director of Ambulatory Applications and the Director of the Transformation Management Office.

As the Manager of Operational Readiness at Rochester General Hospital, Bonzo assisted in the transformation to electronic medical records, which has completely transformed operations and how the hospital delivers care.

“There are so many changes happening in health care. We need a lot of very capable and driven leaders that can help manage the transformation that the entire health care industry is going through,” Bonzo said. “This program is a way to get more people into this exciting and growing field.”

SUNY Oswego also offers several health care graduate certificates for individuals interested in the health care industry or health care professionals looking to advance in their fields. The integrated health systems (IHS) and health information technology (HIT) graduate certificates, introduce students to the changing health care industry.

The IHS certificate prepares students with the knowledge and skills in human-computer interaction, information systems and communication methods as they apply to health care.

The HIT certificate addresses the growing demand for the integration of new information technology as the health care industry adopts high tech digital systems.

Other graduate certificates offered by SUNY Oswego to help meet the increasing demand for health care professionals are gerontology, play therapy, and trauma studies.

SUNY Oswego also offers courses for the New York State nursing home licensure. For more information on programs and certificates, visit

Program details

The HSA program is not just for students looking to start a new career, but also health professionals looking to further their careers.

The program is comprised of 45 graduate credit hours, which include MBA core requirements, HSA requirements, electives, the capstone, and an internship. Students enrolled in the MBA HSA program will be required to do an internship in the health care industry selected in consultation with the MBA HSA Coordinator.

Students who are interested in nursing home administration may also opt out of the internship to complete coursework necessary to meet the educational requirements for New York State nursing home licensure.

“Students are going to come out of the program with a solid understanding of the basics of health systems, health care finance, managerial epidemiology, nursing home administration, heath law, and health policy, so they can enter almost any position in the health care field,” Bonzo said.

With a mix of new students and health care professionals looking to advance their knowledge and skills, there will be an opportunity to learn from each other and have discussions about the challenges and opportunities within the health care system today.

“We’re going to be able to have some really interesting conversations with students new to the health care field and leaders who are currently in health care, but want to advance their education,” Bonzo said. "They will have an opportunity to both challenge and learn from one another."

The MBA in health services will be offered online, with the option of taking the core MBA courses at the SUNY Oswego Metro Center, in downtown Syracuse, where health care organizations are primary employers.

SUNY Oswego has ties to local health care systems, organization and providers and is establishing more ties to increase the diversity of internships and experiences available to students.

With the MBA HSA degree, students will possess the necessary skills and expertise to work in hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, health insurance companies, public health agencies, long-term care facilities, and a multitude of other areas.

“Students in the program will get exposure to (health care) whether it’s through their course work or internships or capstone projects,” Bonzo said. “But everyone will come out with an understanding of not just the health system as it exists today, but where it’s going in the future.”