MBU partners with BJC HealthCare, the largest employer in St. Louis, to offer employees a bachelor’s degree in healthcare management

Missouri Baptist University has linked its healthcare administration program with the largest provider of healthcare in the St. Louis metropolitan area.

In an effort to assist professional development and educational opportunities for BJC HealthCare employees, MBU will begin offering its Bachelor of Professional Studies in Healthcare Management at various BJC locations. BJC employs nearly 28,000 employees at its 13 hospitals and multiple community health locations across the region.

“MBU is excited to partner with BJC to provide its employees a new way to complete a baccalaureate degree that is tailored to the unique challenges of those working in the healthcare industry,” said Dr. R. Alton Lacey, MBU president. “Our objective is to provide convenient, innovative coursework to help cultivate leaders within the BJC network.”

The MBU Bachelor of Professional Studies in Healthcare Management couples solid principles and concepts in business management with insight from instructors who are also proven leaders in the ever- changing healthcare industry. The program prepares students for managerial positions in the medical field such as hospital administrators and medical office managers.

“Missouri Baptist University’s high sense of enthusiasm and willingness to develop a creative plan that allows employees to pursue the program within BJC’s existing cohort model was what appealed to us,” said JoAnn Shaw, vice president and chief learning officer at BJC. “MBU has been superlative as we have worked to develop this partnership.”

Shaw leads BJC’s Center for Lifelong Learning, an initiative that provides its employees the opportunity to pursue academic offerings at little or no cost.

Shaw took the helm of the Center for Lifelong Learning in 2004. Back then, BJC partnered with one academic institution; 475 BJC employees took advantage of the opportunity.

This year, more than 24,000 BJC employees are enrolled in one of the 22 academic programs offered through
the initiative. MBU is one of 10 academic institutions — out of dozens who apply every year — selected to partner with BJC.

Shaw says BJC has seen the value of such partnerships. They’ve seen marked increases in employee loyalty and engagement, which she believes, has resulted in increased patient satisfaction system-wide.

“Learning has been given a priority; it has become part of the culture of BJC,” Shaw said. “We’ve become a learning organization.”

The partnership comes at a time when medical and health services manager positions are in high demand, said Brenda Bradford, chair of the University’s business division.

By 2020, the industry is expected to increase by 22 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics. MBU’s partnership at BJC is designed with the specific objective of preparing those employees already working in the healthcare industry to become effective leaders, Bradford added.

The healthcare management program will be one of only two bachelor’s degrees offered through the BJC Center for Lifelong Learning. Shaw anticipates it to be a popular addition, particularly among those employees who already have professional experience and some college credit.

“MBU has a reputation for valuing and enhancing previous educational and work experiences of adult learners,” said Dr. Terry Dale Cruse, vice president for enrollment services. “Our generous articulation agreements and credit for prior learning assessment make a bachelor’s degree reasonably attainable for working adults.”

The BJC partnership continues MBU’s tradition of taking education to communities that need it most. The University operates 10 regional learning centers throughout the bi- state region and Southern Illinois, in addition to an online degree program that currently offers 10 graduate programs, one undergraduate program and dozens of individual courses.

“Innovative partnerships like this will become the face of education in the future,” Cruse said. “Missouri Baptist University is committed to collaborating with business leaders in meeting the talent and industry needs of the local economy.”

Two cohorts are expected to begin at BJC locations in the fall 2013 semester, one in St. Louis County and the other in the Mineral Area. The cohorts, comprised of employees of the 13 hospitals in the BJC network, will be taught and advised by MBU faculty.