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Lorena Ortiz Earns Strategic Leadership Role With Healthcare Management MBA

Fitchburg State University online MBA in Healthcare Management graduate Lorena Ortiz
Dr. Richard S. Lapidus, university president, with online MBA graduate Lorena Ortiz

Lorena Ortiz is an advocate for learning while earning, probably because she’s been doing it for most of her career. While finishing her bachelor’s in health science from Northeastern University, Ortiz worked full time as a healthcare technician at Boston Children’s Hospital. She assisted physicians during gastroenterology motility studies and coordinated patient care pre- and post-procedure. Once she was off the clock, she studied.

“I was going to school nights and weekends and summers,” she remembered.

Ortiz graduated in 2018 and moved to the business side of medicine. She joined Cardinal Health, a company offering specialized services to healthcare industry clients along with products ranging from medical devices to pharmaceuticals and vaccines. She rose quickly from field representative to regional account executive but still had a desire to keep learning.

Ortiz knew that to meet the challenges ahead in healthcare, she would need skills in change management and data-driven decision-making, plus a better grasp of health technologies. To qualify for a leadership position, she would need stronger people management and budgeting skills.

After taking a consulting role at work, she decided the time was right to go back to school for her MBA.

Ortiz enrolled in the online Master of Business Administration in Healthcare Management program at Fitchburg State University in January 2022 and graduated that December, completing her degree in just one year.

“While I did have the clinical side and a little bit of the business side, the MBA was the thing that tied both together,” she recalled. “That’s why, especially if you’re going into leadership, it’s very important to have that knowledge.”

Moving at the Speed of Change

Ortiz started her career as a certified nursing assistant but found she preferred working on care teams handling diagnostic or surgical procedures. She spent time as an operating room tech and endoscopy tech to pay her way through undergrad, even before moving to Boston. It taught her that being adaptable and open to new ideas is important for success in healthcare, a field that is constantly evolving.

“You have to be a chameleon with it,” she advised. “Because that’s just the nature of the industry that you’re in.”

Online MBA classes at Fitchburg State helped Ortiz bridge education and experience gaps she felt might be holding her back professionally. “I never really had that knowledge or that skillset to critically think or adapt to change,” she said.

The healthcare management program’s pace and structure were a good match for her needs as well. Taking two courses each term, she was able to master new concepts fast and apply them on the job. Never having to attend lectures on campus also gave her the freedom to study where she pleased.

“You can do school anywhere, seriously, even at the beach if you want,” she said. “I would be at the gym on the treadmill and read the chapters.”

For Ortiz, being able to choose how and when she worked in her courses was key. “That was very important for me, to have that flexibility,” she said.

She also credits her MBA professors for keeping her on track. “They were very engaged,” Ortiz noted. “That’s what made it very easy for me to be successful in this program.”

Building Expertise, Sharing Experience

Ortiz gained confidence as she progressed through her MBA coursework, building new expertise with each subject she studied. Strategic management, the program’s capstone course, was among her favorites. Students completed a business simulation, acting as the CEO of an established company and making decisions that could impact global operations.

“The capstone was very fun,” she said. “Everything that I learned came together, from accounting [to] organizational, behavioral, marketing, you name it. It’s all encompassed in that final project.” Doing the work also helped her reflect on all she had accomplished in the program. “It really makes you step back,” she observed. “It’s like—wow—look what I did.”

Ortiz enjoyed working with her classmates as well, which included physicians, nurses, pharmacists, business leaders, and other professionals. “You get to see everyone’s perspective,” she said. “I learned from them, and they learned from me.”

She appreciated the fact that her peers were always available to help if she struggled with an assignment. “You lean on each other,” she affirmed. “You [make] friends along the way, even though you’re remote.”

Ortiz notes that her fiancée, Anthony, and the rest of her family were just as supportive. They understood when she needed focus time to work on assignments or if she wasn’t available for a get-together. “My family [said] hey, we get it,” she remembered. “We’ll celebrate once you’re done.”

She’s grateful they shared her journey and recognized that earning an MBA was important for her career. “It’s a small sacrifice for a big reward,” she said.

Making a Difference for Patients

Ortiz attended her Fitchburg State graduation in person, where she got to meet some of her classmates and professors. “It was like, ‘Hey, I remember you!'” she laughed.

Walking across the stage to accept her diploma that day was a highlight, but the real reward for Ortiz is putting her MBA to good use. One of her goals is to improve health outcomes for people in underserved communities. Another is removing barriers that impede access to quality care and treatment options for those patients. Ortiz also wants to tackle challenges on a much larger scale.

She recently accepted a position with the CVS Health Corporation as a healthcare strategy manager. “It’s my first real big leadership role,” she said proudly.  She views this opportunity as a chance to address one of the most significant medical and business dilemmas of our time: the high cost of prescription drugs.

“That’s what I’m really looking forward to,” she said. “I’m excited just to put everything that I learned to the test.”

She has some career advice for others considering an MBA in Healthcare Management and earning it online. “Try Fitchburg State,” she suggested. “It was affordable for me and [the program] was easy to navigate. They really do care about you and your success.”

As for her own career, Ortiz sees great things ahead.

“The sky’s the limit. I’m very ambitious, and I know where I want to go, and I feel like me getting this MBA really did open that door to bigger roles,” she said. “I am so happy that I actually did it.”

Learn more about Fitchburg State University’s online MBA in Healthcare Management program.

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