As family members watched
Saturday morning, Lola Grichendler, of Lake Charles, was awarded the first health
systems management degree by McNeese State University’s College of Nursing and
Health Professions at the 149th commencement ceremony held in Burton
knew growing up as a child in Paris, France, that she wanted a career in health
care but she wasn’t quite sure what field. So, after high school graduation,
she returned to Lake Charles where her family roots were - her mother and stepfather
are Anna and Mark DiGiglia, her grandfather is former state senator and
representative Bob Jones, her great grandfather was Gov. Sam H. Jones and her step grandfather wascardiovascular surgeonDr. John W.
DiGiglia, who worked at St. Patrick’s Hospital backin the early
Lola enrolled as a
nursing major at McNeese in the fall of 2013. "I knew that McNeese had a great
nursing program and my family encouraged my dream,” said Grichendler. But after
a couple of semesters, she knew that nursing was not the "right fit” for her.
"I went to talk to one
of my professors, Dr. Amy Bufford, about my options and she told me about a new
degree program that would begin in the fall of 2015 - health systems management
- that would be a perfect fit for me and my interest in health care,” she said.
According to Bufford, director of the HSM program, health systems
management addresses the growing demand
for health care administrators and consultants.
"With an eye toward the continuously evolving field of
health care, McNeese is preparing students for careers beyond those involved
with direct care,” says Bufford. "Health systems management professionals are
prepared to understand current and future health care trends and issues, to
develop, communicate and manage resources and solutions to challenges for
health care systems and to improve overall quality and outcomes of health care
systems and services.”
McNeese offers students a Bachelor of Science degree
in one of three academic concentrations—health care management, health care
quality improvement and care coordination.
The degree plan allows students to complete program requirements
in three years, but with hard work and dedication after changing her major, Grichendler finished her
bachelor’s degree in two years,
including an internship this fall at the Colorado Center for Reproductive
Medicine of New York City, one of the nation’s leading fertility clinics.
twin sister, Eva, and I were conceived through in vitro fertilization, as well
as my younger sister, Mia, which is why I am so passionate about the fertility
field and its advancements,” said Grichendler. "Eva works in the fashion
industry in New York City, so I applied and received this internship. I was
able to live with her.”
Lola worked as a case
coordinator for patients, walking them through the maze of laboratory tests and
ultrasounds from start to finish. "I was able to observe the patient flow, cut the
flow from 45 minutes to 15 minutes in most instances and provide statistics to
the physicians that showed how to better manage the center’s resources and time.
This internship allowed me to connect my classroom knowledge with hands-on
experience that will make me more marketable to future employers,” said
The HSM program, designed in collaboration with
Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, continues to be one of the fastest growing programs at McNeese.
The combined number from both campuses is currently
160 students, according to Bufford. The program attracts students from a
variety of backgrounds, but she said they all share a common interest in the
areas where business and medicine intersect.
"This program is a good fit for individuals like Lola
who start out in nursing, radiology, respiratory therapy or medical technology
but suddenly decide that these careers are not for them, but they want to stay
in the health care field. This degree offers these individuals an alternative
with much of their coursework transferring into the HSM program.”
Grichendler said she is
appreciative of the professors in the McNeese College of Nursing and Health
Professions who worked with her "to make her childhood dream of an exciting
career in health care a reality.”