With almost 30 years of professional experience in medical technology and laboratory science on her résumé, Barb Setmayer is acutely aware of the vital role of analytical precision and quality control in ensuring successful outcomes.
She employed the same scrutiny when it came time to advance her education with a specialized graduate degree in healthcare administration.
“Of the numerous universities that offer online degrees, Valparaiso University’s name is synonymous with quality,” said Setmayer, a point-of-care coordinator for a hospital in Michigan City, Indiana.
A private, Lutheran institution, Valpo was ranked No. 4 among Best Regional Universities and the No. 1 Best Value School in the Midwest in 2018 by U.S. News & World Report.
“The classes are relatively inexpensive compared to many other universities,” she said. “It also helped that I live fairly close to the brick-and-mortar Valparaiso University.”
Setmayer spent her childhood in Hobart, Indiana, a town of about 29,000 that grew up around a gristmill and brickyards in the mid-1800s. Now a resident of La Porte, Indiana, much of her life has been spent within a 30-minute or so drive of Valparaiso’s campus.
In 1991, she earned her Bachelor of Science in Medical Technology from Purdue University, attained board certification as a medical technologist and began her healthcare career. She later moved out West, working in Southern California for about six years before returning to the Hoosier State.
But even as she built a career and a family, a master’s degree remained a goal. Occupations requiring at least a graduate-level education will have the fastest employment growth nationwide into the next decade, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported. The bulk of those opportunities will be in healthcare and social assistance.
“I have been wanting to go back to school for many years but never got around to it,” Setmayer said. “I have school-age children who are very busy with afterschool activities, so I don’t have much extra time to drive to a college, park the car, walk to a building, attend a lecture and then drive back home.”
Turns out, she didn’t need to leave home to find the solution: Valpo’s Master of Science in Healthcare Administration with a specialization in Strategic Leadership, offered 100% online.
“I like the online format Valparaiso University uses because it allows me to have some flexibility with assignments yet holds me to deadlines for submitting items.”
Setmayer is among the nearly 120 graduate students, including four from the MS in Healthcare Administration program, scheduled to receive their diplomas in May 2018. She plans to make the half-hour drive from her home to the Valpo campus for commencement ceremonies at the Chapel of the Resurrection.
“My goal is to go into management sometime in the future, whether it be in the laboratory or in another facet in healthcare,” she said. “I feel as though having an advanced degree will help propel me to the top of the list of applicants.”
Setmayer spoke with us recently about her tips for success in the online graduate degree program, and the inspiration and support she receives from her family.
Q. Can you tell us about your background?
Currently, I am working as a point-of-care coordinator at a hospital, which means I manage the various handheld devices that hospital staff use for analyzing patient lab tests at the bedside. I train new employees, in addition to performing all the quality testing on the devices. I like my job because it allows me to venture out of the laboratory and meet many other hospital employees.
Q. What did you most enjoy learning about while enrolled in the program?
I enjoyed learning about the quality process involved in healthcare and about community health.
Q. What skills or tools were important to your success in this program?
I learned more about working with technology, such as Google Docs for sharing projects, Microsoft Word, Excel and various other sources, including Skype, Group Study and Gantt charts. In my position, I get to utilize some of this technology, so having to prepare documents and assignments with additional technology augments what I use at work.
Q. What advice would you give other students who are considering enrolling in the program?
When taking a class, you have to be committed. There is a lot of reading and research involved. You also must be willing to compromise and work with other professionals who may not have a similar background as yourself to complete a paper or project as a team.
Q. Who or what inspires you to succeed?
I have always been a hard worker, as I was raised with a very strong work ethic courtesy of my mom and dad who are now passed away. They had always been very supportive of me going to college and getting a bachelor’s degree. My family also inspire me every day. My husband is a hard worker, both at his job and at home. We try to instill a sense of ownership in our kids so that they do their best, especially in school. I want to succeed so that they will follow my lead and aspire to succeed as well.
Q. What is one fun fact about you?
I enjoy traveling and look forward to hitting the road again after I am finished with school – with kids in tow, of course.
Looking for inspiration to advance your education? Check out more Success Stories from our students and graduates here.