HPM students rack up two more case competition wins

April 24, 2015

There is no stopping those health policy and management students!

During the weekend of April 18-19, the Gillings School of Global Public Health’s Department of Health Policy and Management, which has fielded a number of winning case management teams over the last decade, did it again – twice.

In both instances, the students felt the competitions were important enough that they used their own funding to travel and participate in the events.

Shown left to right are Jake Petralia, Casey Scully, Gina Cronin, MHA (1991 Gillings School alumna, now administrator for the Cleveland Clinic Heart and Vascular Institute), Ashley Rader and George Kernodle.

Shown left to right are Jake Petralia, Casey Scully, Gina Cronin, MHA (1991 Gillings School alumna, now administrator for the Cleveland Clinic Heart and Vascular Institute), Ashley Rader and George Kernodle.

Top-ranked team members included Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) students George Kernodle, Jake Petralia, Ashley Rader and Casey Scully, who placed second at the Cleveland Clinic Case Competition, and Samantha (Sammy) Cooperstein and Wen Lin, members of an interdisciplinary health affairs team from UNC-Chapel Hill, who claimed first prize at the Clarion National Case Competition,  hosted by the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

Case competitions provide an opportunity for students to refine skills learned in the classroom. Student teams research a real-life health-care challenge, develop a solution and present their case to a group of judges who work in health care and health-care administration. The Gillings School’s health policy and management department fully sponsors students in two national competitions each year – at the University of Alabama in Birmingham and through the National Association of Health Services Executives.

Last year, a Gillings School team won first prize at the Cleveland Clinic competition.

George Kernodle, a member of this year’s second-place team, said he saw the Cleveland Clinic competition as a rare opportunity.

Left to right are Kelly Scolaro, PharmD (team adviser from UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy), Samantha Cooperstein, Courtney Canter (School of Medicine), Lesley Peters (School of Nursing) and Wen Lin (MHA/MBA student).

Left to right are Kelly Scolaro, PharmD (team adviser from UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy), Samantha Cooperstein, Courtney Canter (School of Medicine), Lesley Peters (School of Nursing) and Wen Lin (MHA/MBA student).

“Cleveland Clinic has a reputation for being a leading innovator in health care,” Kernodle said. “It was exciting to help mold the strategy of one of the most prestigious health-care providers in the U.S. by presenting our ideas about the future direction of their Florida hospital.”

Ashley Rader, another Cleveland Clinic team member, said the event was both challenging and rewarding.

“The case competition gave us an opportunity to use all the things we learn in class in concert to solve a real health-care problem,” she said. “Being able to choose one’s own team, collaborate to solve a health-care problem, gain exposure to a global leader in health care, and represent UNC made the competition well worth the investment.”

Rader noted that the team’s prompt was to “differentiate Cleveland Clinic Florida to prepare for a value- based future.” Their solution revolved around a nationwide direct-to-employer, value-based care contract for digestive disease services.

“We were challenged to create innovative and creative solutions that accounted for the rapidly changing health-care environment,” she said.

Rader’s team and one other from the Gillings School were among the eight semifinalists selected from 57 competitors. The second team included first-year MHA students Michael Cureton, Andrew Heap and Todd Hardy.

University of California at Los Angeles won first prize in the Cleveland Clinic event. Others in the top five were Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania (#3), Ohio State University (#4) and New York University Stern School of Business (#5).

In the Clarion Case Competition at University of Minnesota, Gillings School students Sammy Cooperstein and Wen Lin paired with students from the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy and the schools of medicine and nursing at UNC.

“Clarion was such a great opportunity,” Cooperstein said. “Over the course of the semester, Wen and I worked with medical student Courtney Canter, nursing student Lesley Peters, and various faculty members who gave us guidance and support. I loved working on the case because we all come from such different backgrounds, and we each had a unique perspective.”

Cooperstein said that students in the MHA program are accustomed to working in groups, but that the opportunity for interprofessional collaboration was rewarding.

“Through coursework, site visits and guest lectures, the Gillings School experience gave me confidence to take on such a big challenge,” she said. “It was extremely important to attend, even though I used my own funds. Not only did I get to meet health-care students from across the nation, I spoke with chief executive officers of large health systems, top surgeons, nursing managers and other industry leaders.”

“The Gillings School’s health policy and management department has done a tremendous job of selecting intelligent, driven early-careerists and pushing them to be better health-care leaders,” participant Kernodle said. “Each day in our program, we are surrounded by talented colleagues and supported by a world-class faculty. This is what distinguishes the Gillings School from other health-care management programs in the country. When we enter case competitions, we believe that any four-person team from our program has the ability to compete at the highest level. This has been apparent as UNC teams have been nothing short of dominant on the case competition circuit over the past few years.”



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

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