Published on November 8, 2018 by Sarah Waller  
Bret Ashleigh Colman HCA

Samford University’s School of Public Health equips graduates with the knowledge and skills to directly enter the workforce or continue their studies at the graduate level. Many undergraduate majors even build 24 elective hours into their curriculum, allowing students to complete the prerequisite courses for pathways like prehealth or premedicine.

Bret-Ashleigh Coleman, a junior from Pinson, Alabama, declared her major in healthcare administration because it offers her early exposure to the health care industry, creating a competitive advantage as she prepares to the take the MCAT and apply for medical school next year.

“I’ve known that I wanted to go to medical school ever since I was a little girl.” Coleman said. “After shadowing my cousin who is a cardiac anesthesiologist, I fell in love with it even more. I knew I wanted to have a career that let me work in a hospital.”

Coleman came to Samford thinking she would pursue a major in biology or chemistry, but a fateful conversation with a girl who lived on her freshman hall sparked a new interest.

“She told me that she had declared her major as healthcare administration, and I’ll confess, I didn’t know what that was. When I asked more about it, she encouraged me to enroll in the major’s introductory class with her. I thought, why not, and the now the rest is history,” she said.

Coleman’s passion for health care administration grew quickly as she declared her major and began to take more classes. She loved how her course work exposed her to the many facets of the health care industry and provided her with a broader perspective of issues that are commonly discussed.

“Everyone involved in health care ultimately wants the best outcome for the patient, but roles like health care administrators and physicians can have different perspectives about the best way this can be accomplished,” she said. “My studies are allowing me to see the bigger picture. While I’m developing my own opinions, I can see and understand the opposite point of view.”

These are skills that naturally translate into leadership positions, something Coleman recognizes as a required skill for her future career. “I see myself working in the hospital setting, but who knows, I may come to a point where I want to open my own practice. The information that I’m learning today will be vital if that ever comes to pass,” she said.

Ashley Robertson, an assistant professor in the School of Public Health’s Department of Healthcare Administration, beams when she hears Coleman say this. “That is exactly what we strive to teach our students. With our program, we work to develop dynamic leaders who are ready to address the profound issues facing health care today,” Robertson said.

“The School of Public Health offers many wonderful options for students considering professional or graduate schools, like medical, dental—even law school. But as a healthcare administration major, students like Bret-Ashleigh will progress with a foundational understanding that will allow them to hit the ground running. Not only will they go in understanding important business functions in health care, but they will also understand the importance of building relationships with each member of the overall health care team.”
Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.