Katy Perkins, MS•MBA’12, Health Sector
Ask Katy Perkins (MS•MBA ’12) about healthcare process improvement, and her eyes light up, ready for a challenge. This petite, soft-spoken management student is a savvy network who’s not afraid to tackle complex problems. She’s working on both a Master of Science in Information Systems and an MBA in Health Sector Management and completed an internship at Children’s Hospital Boston.
Before coming to Boston University’s School of Management, she studied math and economics at Bucknell University and worked as a research coordinator and executive staff program manager for a private medical practice in San Francisco. Gaining experience on the research and management sides of healthcare helped Perkins discover her interest in process improvement, which she describes as “a way to take a complex problem and come up with an organized solution tying together lots of different aspects.”
Perkins had the chance to hone her process improvement skills in her first healthcare class, HM703 Health Sector Issues and Opportunities, where groups of students act as “consultants” to solve an assigned problem. For the semester-long project, Perkins’ group examined ways to deal with inefficiencies in an emergency room.
“We had someone from pharma, me, coming from private practice, and a third teammate who had never worked in healthcare before, so it was interesting to take all these different backgrounds and work together to find a solution where we would all move forward,” she adds.
To supplement her coursework, she worked as a process improvement intern at Children’s Hospital Boston in the department of Environmental Health and Safety, collecting and analyzing data for the annual report, among other projects. “We are doing projects to increase the safety in the hospital and working to collect data as part of those projects, to show the value added of the work that the Environmental Health and Safety Department is doing through their Annual Report,” she explains.
A self-starter who’s eager to build her professional network, Perkins has gone on dozens of informational interviews with healthcare administrators around Boston and says networking made a huge difference in her internship search. Katy has found that “when you email someone as a student and say ‘I just want to learn about what you do,’ I’ve never had anyone say no.”
She also used the Feld Career Center for resume advice and joined the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) after attending a presentation on campus. In addition to hosting events, ACHE maintains an email list and offers resources to keep members current on healthcare reform and trends in hospital management.
Though Perkins misses California, she’s enjoying the change of seasons in New England and plans to stay on the East Coast after graduation. She hopes to work in process improvement eventually become Chief Operations Officer of a hospital someday. “In the long term, managing the day-to-day operations as a COO of a hospital would give me the leverage to make larger changes and give guidance at a strategic level,” she says. With her commitment to process improvement and the education she’s receiving at BU, Perkins is well on her way.