Health policy and management students win first place in national health care case study competition

March 6, 2015

Three graduate students from the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health took first place on Feb. 27 in the ninth annual Health Administration Case Competition hosted by the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).

The contest offers graduate students a platform to apply what they have learned to an actual health administration case. Participants receive the case three weeks prior to competition. As a team, they generate recommendations and present them to a national panel of judges.

Left to right: contest official Dr. Christy Lemak, Keenan Jones, Mary Winters, Christopher Del Grosso

Left to right are contest official Dr. Christy Lemak, Keenan Jones, Mary Winters and Christopher DelGrosso.

Members of the 2015 Gillings School team are Christopher DelGrosso, Keenan Jones and Mary Winters. At the final ceremony, the three took home a $9,000 cash prize for their development of a plan to build a comprehensive respiratory center.

“This year’s UAB Case Competition was a very complex case that provided an opportunity for our students to apply the many skills and competencies they have gained during their time in our program,” said Sandra Greene, DrPH, interim chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management. “The amount of research they put into preparing their plan was tremendous, and we are very proud of their performance this year.”

In addition to the recognition her team received, student Mary Winters valued the opportunity to represent UNC on a national stage.

“The competition was an excellent way to test our skill set and also showcase the breadth and depth of knowledge we’re exposed to through the Master of Healthcare Administration curriculum,” she said. “Faculty, staff and our classmates were all incredibly supportive throughout the process. I’m thrilled to bring home another UAB victory for our program!”

This year’s competition saw a record assembly of 38 American and Canadian universities. The UNC students set themselves apart by proposing a multidisciplinary approach to patient diagnosis and treatment. They developed a system for the comprehensive respiratory center that would employ the latest technologies as well as innovative strategies to improve individualized therapy.

The team’s faculty adviser is Jeffrey Simms, MSPH, clinical assistant professor of health policy and management. “Each year, I’m so honored to support a team of talented, motivated students in the case competition,” Simms said. “This year’s team was presented with a difficult case, but when they shared their proposal with the judges, they were confident. They addressed any questions raised without difficulty.”

Going into the event, team member Christopher DelGrosso was aware that UNC had a reputation to uphold, as this year’s win marked this third straight victory for a team from the Gillings School.

“We certainly put some pressure on ourselves since UNC has won the past two years, but most of all, we wanted to have fun with it,” DelGrosso explained. “The case proved to be a lot of work, but it was also a nice affirmation that the skills we practice in class are extremely relevant to the current health-care landscape.”

In an event designed to emphasize analytic abilities, teamwork and presentation skills, master’s student Keenan Jones especially appreciated the chance to get creative.

“I really enjoyed being part of the case competition,” he shared. “I believe my group was able to be as ‘out of the box’ as we wanted to be, because we could back up our ideas with concepts we have studied. What I learned from my teammates and this experience will stay with me throughout my career.”

Gillings School of Global Public Health contact: David Pesci, director of communications, (919) 962-2600 or

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