When Jamie Starbuck was in high school, she debated her career choice, toggling between teaching and medicine. She went off to Western Michigan University with plans to become a physician assistant, but after graduating with her bachelor’s in biomedical sciences, she realized that she needed to start earning money sooner than later.
First career: microbiologist
Jamie started her post-bachelor’s career at Lakeland Health in St. Joseph, Michigan, as a microbiology processor. To boost her career opportunities, she got a certificate in clinical laboratory science in 2002, which allowed her to move up into a clinical microbiologist position—a role she held until 2009.
“I’ve always loved science,” says Jamie, a native of southwest Michigan, where she lives today. Another longtime interest: teaching. In 2006, Lakeland (by then, Spectrum Health Lakeland) posted an open clinical education position, and Jamie decided to apply for it. “I’ve been in that job since August 2006. I educate team members in our lab and healthcare system. I plan and implement continuing education programs for the lab and for nurses, coordinate and run lab orientation programs, and coordinate all high school and university internship programs.”
Intrigued by the MBA
As a member of the Lakeland Toastmaster’s, Jamie started thinking about earning her MBA in 2016. “I was surrounded by professionals who were thinking about it and I wanted to be at their level,” she recalls. When her director shared that she was earning the Doctor of Nursing Practice at American Sentinel University, an educational partner of Lakeland, Jamie researched the university for herself. “I wanted an online MBA program that was healthcare focused, and this was the only program of its kind that I’d found.”
With three children under the age of 10, Jamie recognized that there would never be an easy time to go back to school, but she also wanted to capitalize on her motivation. She started the program a few months later, opting for the project-based MBA.
Exposure to different elements of healthcare leadership
For Jamie, the chance to learn in a self-paced environment and gear her MBA toward the healthcare field was the perfect fit. “Healthcare is a very complex industry and I feel like this program helped me think globally about healthcare,” she says. “It exposed me to areas I wasn’t previously exposed to, like strategic planning. Mostly, it has prepared me for my next adventure, whatever that will be. I’ll be ready.”
Jamie graduated with the MBA in 2017. The flexibility of online learning at American Sentinel allowed her to manage her full-time job as well as her family business: a blueberry farm. “I paused school during our five-week summer harvest,” she says. “I appreciated that I was able to do that and fit school around my life.”
Setting a 10-year goal
Jamie hopes that in the next few years, an opportunity will present itself wherein she can add value to her organization in the form of a committee or other project. “I want to make a difference,” she says. “I’m looking to expand my network and contribute to our organizational mission, which is to increase the health of our community. I want to use this degree to have more influence.”
Inspired by Jamie’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.