When Andy Applegate was growing up in a farming community in northeastern Kentucky, an unexpected event shaped his career path. “I was significantly injured while working on the farm after I’d earned an associate degree and returned, and one of the professionals who helped me afterward was a medical technologist,” says Andy. “It was a powerful experience that alleviated my fears of what I was going through—so much so that I decided to help people in the same way that this gentleman had helped me.”
Ten years with LabCorps
Four years later, Andy was graduating with a bachelor’s degree in medical technology from Morehead State University. He married and moved to Louisville and started his career working in the laboratory of Audobon Hospital, managed by LabCorp, the world’s leading healthcare diagnostics company. In 2000, Andy moved into management with LabCorps’ central division offices—as divisional director of quality assurance, compliance and safety.
In 2008, LabCorp moved its central division offices to Columbus, Ohio, but relocating wasn’t ideal for Andy and his wife, a family practice physician. He accepted a job with Kindred Healthcare as director of laboratory services, hospital division—a role he still holds today. As time went on, Andy knew that a graduate degree would help him. “I was encouraged to get a master’s degree to advance myself and make myself more valuable to Kindred,” he says. With two children and a full-time job that has him traveling almost every week, Andy sought an online MBA program. As an educational partner to Kindred, American Sentinel University came highly recommended.
Perhaps the greatest attraction to American Sentinel, Andy says, was the project-based MBA Healthcare, a self-directed program that has students complete competencies instead of classes. As he was considering MBA programs, Andy’s wife was opening her own direct primary care medical practice—and he was her right-hand man. “This MBA program was perfect for me in that it would allow me to put her practice at the core of my learning experience,” he says. “I started the program about two weeks after she opened, and everything I learned in the MBA Healthcare helped us make good decisions and strengthen the business.”
Because Andy’s wife was embracing an innovative type of primary care model in which physicians charge patients a monthly fee for all of their clinical, lab and consultative services, the couple had a lot to learn. “We ate, breathed and slept this business and were completely focused on how we could do things right for our patients the first time and every time while making this a viable entity,” he says. “I was essentially studying our business and passion.”
Solidifying his knowledge
Of course, Andy’s MBA Healthcare experience benefited him personally as well. “This experience gave me so much more knowledge and I know that it expands my options to grow with Kindred,” he says. “The reality is that higher education is important if you want to advance yourself in the organization. I think that’s true of most healthcare organizations too, so I’m glad I did this.”
Andy says that for his situation, the MBA Healthcare was “exactly the right program.” “I’ve recommended this program to many others at Kindred who are seeking new skills and want an advanced degree that can be molded to their specific needs and goals,” he says. “It’s great for someone who travels for work or has a hectic job and for those who have multiple goals for returning to graduate school.” In April 2017, Andy completed his final class in the MBA Healthcare program.
A successful business
Genesis 1 Health, Andy’s wife’s practice, has been open for 20 months. The practice is at its target patient capacity and has been on solid financial ground from the very beginning. “She’s now reinvesting in the practice to benefit both patients and staff,” he says. “Genesis 1 Health’s future is limitless. Our next decision is whether to expand or open a second location with another physician. This business was the basis for my MBA Healthcare, and every one of the competencies was focused on it. I gained so much knowledge that we applied to help the practice ramp up successfully, so it was definitely a valuable experience that I have already put to use.”
Inspired by Andy’s story? An MBA Healthcare is perfect for healthcare professionals seeking to lead in the rapidly evolving healthcare industry. Specialized knowledge forms the foundation of nursing and when you acquire new knowledge, you can apply it to nursing practice in ways that enhance patient care and improve outcomes.
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