Abdou Manjang spent nearly 10 years caring for patients as a nursing assistant and mental health associate. He felt he could make a different kind of impact by becoming a healthcare administrator.
“I enjoyed making a difference in the lives of people who entrusted us with their care,” he said. “I wanted to do more to improve the patient experience.”
He earned a bachelor’s degree in human services administration and quickly decided to continue his education.
Manjang’s dreams eventually led him to MSUM, where he pursued a Master’s of Healthcare Administration. He was looking for a flexible program that would allow him to work while taking classes. EduMed.org ranks MSUM's online program as one of the best in the nation.
He found other reasons to like MSUM’s program, too.
“MSUM is affordable and the program was more aligned to what I wanted,” he said.
Manjang started taking classes in 2017. He took one course per semester until this past year. He took all of the courses online so he could continue living in Otsego, Minnesota, a northwest suburb of Minneapolis. He graduated last December.
Manjang grew up in The Gambia, a small West African country. He is the first in his family to complete college. He came to the United States as an international student, starting in New York and eventually landing in Minnesota.
“A master’s degree was never a realistic expectation,” he says.
But mentors in MSUM’s program set Manjang up for success. In particular, Brandi Sillerud, program coordinator, and Keely Steele, his capstone advisor, encouraged and pushed him.
“They gave me hope that I could finish,” he says. “They gave me the fundamentals for what leadership in healthcare looks like.”
While a student, Manjang traveled abroad to study healthcare systems in the Dominican Republic. He saw opportunities for improving healthcare disparities, despite the lack of healthcare resources. The experience encouraged him to consider how he could apply the same ideas to his home country.
While Manjang never worked in healthcare in The Gambia, he recognizes that he could bring accountability and improvement to the system there. For the time being, however, he wants to learn how to be a successful leader in the U.S. healthcare system.
As part of the MSUM program, Manjang secured a one-year administrative residency working under the president of Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis. He led business proposals for several capital projects worth $3 million and engaged in process improvement work.
Before finishing the residency, Manjang received a job offer as a performance improvement advisor and consultant for Allina Health. This role involves working closely with healthcare managers and directors by providing coaching and supporting improvement strategies.
“When I was a nursing assistant, this was my dream job,” he said. Now it’s time for Manjang to improve the patient experience.
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