Improving Health for Servicemembers, Veterans Inspires GU Graduate Student

JANUARY 31, 2018 - Ariel Tillman (G’18), originally from Alabama, is a graduate student in the on-campus Master’s Program in Health Systems Administration (MHSA) at the School of Nursing & Health Studies.

Last semester, she had the opportunity to intern at the Veterans Health Administration. After Georgetown, Tillman plans to work to better health for active duty servicemembers and veterans.

Question: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Tillman: I am from Dothan, Ala., also known as the peanut capital of the world. In 2015, I graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and earned my bachelor of science in health care management. After graduating, I moved back to Dothan and began working at an ambulatory surgery center managing patient accounts. More specifically, I assisted the director of reimbursement with different projects to increase reimbursement for the organization.

Question: How are you enjoying Georgetown’s master’s program?

Tillman: Georgetown’s residential MHSA appealed to me because of its one-year structure, emphasis on leadership, and its position in the nation’s capital.

The faculty are either current or former administrators and executives in health care. The cohort is incredibly diverse, and I enjoy working with my peers as we are able to pull from the different experiences and understandings that we have and learn from one another. The opportunity to learn from and have direct access to professionals with extensive experience in the field has afforded me a much greater understanding of how what I’m learning ties into current market trends.

The program offers many opportunities to network and because of its location in Washington, D.C., I have had the opportunity to attend various conferences, summits, seminars, and lectures. During the fall semester, I interned with the Department of Quality, Safety, and Value at the Veterans Health Administration Corporate Office. Being able to witness the decision-making process at some of the highest levels of leadership was remarkable, and I was able to see the development and implementation of some of their improvement efforts firsthand.

Question: What made you want to pursue an advanced degree in health systems administration?

Tillman: I enjoyed my position in insurance and billing while living in Dothan, but often found myself desiring to do more. I knew that to be the leader that I aspired to be, I needed to further my education, so I could advance my career. Earning my MHSA will allow me to hold a position that will influence organizational or systematic change and guarantee the delivery of safe, timely, efficient, effective, equitable, and patient-centered health care.

Question: What inspires you about the health care field, and what do you hope to do in your career?

Tillman: I am inspired by the changes being made in health care in the United States. Health care has evolved immensely over the past century and is essential to the lives and well-being of all men, women, and children.

Upon graduating with my master’s in health systems administration, I hope to work as a health care administrator for the Veterans Health Administration or the Department of Defense. I aspire to be a leader within this system and further its mission to deliver quality care to the brave men and women who fight for our country. Making a difference for others in the capacity of a leader in health care is the greatest aspiration that I have for my career.