8 Questions with Alex Herman: Health Services Administration Graduate

Sep 17, 2018

The Health Services Administration program focuses on the business side of health care. Students study health care management, health care ethics, public health, finance, economics and statistics, and medical terminology. Students choose concentrations in long-term care for careers working with the elderly, or information systems for careers in hospitals, pharmaceuticals, insurance or other health services systems.

Alex Herman, who just graduated from the program, talked about his experience as a student in the HSA program. He is now working full time in financial services home health billing operations for Cincinnati Children's Hospital, where he interned while at Xavier.

1. Why did you choose Health Services Administration as your major?

I switched over from a science major my freshman year, wanting to remain in the health field. My main goal is to help people, but for me it goes deeper. I've had a Catholic upbringing my entire life. It falls behind the Jesuit ideals of being individuals trying to help others, and that struck me. I wanted to remain in a position to interact and make a difference.

2. What are the coolest things about the program?

One of the coolest things I did was to go to Nicaragua on a public service trip in August focused around public health that gave students experience to create a perspective and opportunities to think of issues in real time. For example, we got to tour around a barrio (neighborhood), and there was a dump site this woman was describing and she said that for many years, families would live in the dump and eat the food provided there. It was so far removed from anything I'd experienced before. Nicaragua is something I'll never forget.

3. Name one of your favorite courses from the program.

My favorite course was Health Care Finance with Clinical Professor Thomas Ruthemeyer (former executive vice president of Mercy Health Partners), but working at Children's Hospital as a financial analyst is what I enjoyed the most. The information covered in class was directly relatable to the work I'm doing at the hospital and echoes conversations happening across the health-care spectrum regarding insurance coverage, acuity and reimbursement.

4. What did you like most about the faculty?

Many of our faculty are adjunct, meaning many have jobs outside as well. So the amount of up-to-date experience and the connections they bring into the classroom is astonishing. The faculty member who shaped me most was Charlie Baverman, Assistant Vice President of Revenue Cycle at Children's Hospital. He was influential in my getting an internship there, and then I got an extended offer to work there after graduation. Also Dr. (Rick) Browne was so welcoming and focused on my success as I transitioned over from my science major.

5. What was your best out-of-class experience?

The Mentoring Program through the Career Development Office and connecting with my mentor helped tremendously. And the networking. It's one of the most important things you can do that connects you with Xavier grads ready to help you.

6. What would you tell a prospective student who is thinking about majoring in Health Services Administration at Xavier?

I'd say do it. If you like science and medicine, then it's for you, especially if you like business in a unique perspective that's not so corporate. Generally it includes something in long-term care, a hospital, or a public or government agency. I think the meaning behind the work is also something that drives so many professionals and students who have a strong desire to help people.

7. What was one experience from your major that resonated with you?
As part of the major's capstone class, a few students and I students gave a presentation to over 20 health-care executives at a community partner site focusing on a semester-long quality improvement project. This experience forced me to reflect on all of the classes in the major such as Healthcare Management, Law and Ethics, Reimbursements, Health Data Management, and Public Health. We were thrown into a "real" situation that moved outside the classroom and had real implications for a real company.

8. What was one experience from Xavier that has resonated with you, an experience you won't forget?

My favorite was all of freshman year-especially the first week, getting to know everyone in your hall, meeting them for the first time. I was in Husman and everyone was so welcoming, they would keep their doors open. It helped develop a connection right away. They are guys I still hang out with today.

Interested? Learn more about the Health Services Administration degree program at Xavier by requesting more information or connecting with an Admissions Counselor.