Wednesday, September 16, 2009

MHA Director McIlwain Prepared for the Challenges of the Health Care System

As health care remains on the front burner of political debate, the Master of Health Administration (MHA) program at Clayton State University is prepared to continue its mission of developing well-rounded competent individuals for administrative positions in varying types of health care organizations. The new director of the MHA program, Dr. Thomas F. McIlwain, is prepared for the challenges in a changing health care system.

“Change is inevitable, and the health care system is no exception,” he says. “In my 25 or so years of working and teaching in health services administration, I have seen the problems, issues, health policies, and health policy outcomes debated. Each new policy change is a tweak of the existing system, but each has been designed to make it better. I have no doubt of the outcome of the current debate. The system will get a little better.”

McIlwain comes to Clayton State with a wealth of prior industry and teaching experience. In the 80s, he served as an administrative associate at University Hospitals of Alabama while teaching in the MSHA program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he received his Ph.D. in Health Services Administration. His administrative residency was with a for-profit system, American Medical International, which eventually merged with National Medical Enterprises to form what is now know as Tenet Health Care.

His immediate teaching position after UAB was at Appalachian State University in the Walker College of Business’ Department of Management. He served as director of the undergraduate health care management program for eight of the 10 years he was in Boone, N.C. He then moved to Mount Pleasant, S.C., where he served as MHA program director for three of the 10 years he was on faculty at the Medical University of South Carolina.

For the past four years he was associate professor of Public Health and vice-chair in the Department of Community Health Sciences in the College of Health at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg. While there, he developed the graduate emphasis in health administration in the CEPH-accredited Master of Public Health program. He was also involved in the development of the cohort-based Executive Master of Public Health in Health Services Administration program.

McIlwain has consulted with health care organizations in the area of strategic planning including medical group practices, nursing homes, and hospitals. His research interests are in health care marketing, including direct-to-the-consumer pharmaceutical advertising, and health care strategic management.

“The main goal of the MHA program at Clayton State is to become CAHME (the Commission on Accreditation of Health Management Education) accredited. CAHME is dedicated to promoting, evaluating, and improving graduate healthcare management education. I was responsible for the re-accreditation of the MHA program at MUSC where the program received the highest awarded number for seven years,” McIlwain says. “My goal is to move this program to that level of quality education. This process will involve making sure that we have quality admissions, support, and outcomes in teaching, service, and research. We are moving the program to competency based outcome measurement also.

“I was attracted to Clayton State because of its proximity to the health care industrial complex of the Metro Atlanta area. This program is poised to become a premier provider of graduate health care management education in the Atlanta and Georgia region. My experience with accreditation and program management provides me with a perspective of what this University can accomplish in this type of program”McIlwain is looking forward to accomplishing many goals within MHA program.

“The goals of the program are to prepare students for positions of increased responsibility within healthcare organizations. It also provides individuals with clinical backgrounds the management skills needed to assume leadership positions,” he says. “We are also interested in attracting individuals who have experience in other industries but want to begin careers in health care management.

“Of course the goal of all health administration programs is to improve the quality of care and resource use in health organizations by graduating individuals with the skills and competencies to achieve this goal.”
McIlwain is married to Margaret, a family nurse practitioner, and is the father of two sons.

A unit of the University System of Georgia, Clayton State University is an outstanding comprehensive metropolitan university located 15 miles southeast of downtown Atlanta.
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