Issam Abouzahr is a graduate student pursuing an MBA in Health Administration as well as an MS in Information Systems. This summer he found success as an intern at Vizient. He shares his story and success from his time here at the Business School.
I started college with the ambitions of becoming a doctor. Those ambitions were short lived. It took all of about three weeks into introductory biology to realize that I wasn’t content with the direction I had chosen. Flash forward a college transfer and two degree changes: I was now a senior at the University of Texas at Austin, pursuing an economics major, and preparing to begin my first internship with a physicians practice management group. Shortly after that internship, I began my search for the perfect graduate program. Enter the University of Colorado Denver Business School. With the click of a submission button, I applied, was accepted, and a few months later packed my car and moved to a city where I quite literally knew no one.
I came to find that it was the best decision of my life.
I chose CU Denver for many reasons. I wanted a change and Colorado is undeniably an incredible place to be. However, it was the school’s impressive national top 20 ranking in Health Administration that really drew me in. It opened the door for me to pursue two degrees at once. I am currently pursuing an MBA in Health Administration as well as an MS in Information Systems. The combination of degrees was an easy choice. Health information technology is a rapidly expanding industry, and as an aspiring health leader, I figured the ability to navigate it would be beneficial.
Flash forward again, it’s a spring morning and my phone rings. It’s my advisor at the Business Career Connections office, Stephanie Sindt. Stephanie had helped me a great deal that prior fall to build an all-star resume and knew of my desire for a strong healthcare experience. She heard about the internship with Vizient, a healthcare consulting firm. The job description almost seemed too good to be true, and after a little research on the company itself, it was clear that Vizient was exactly the opportunity I had been seeking. So I applied, and I got the position!
My internship with Vizient has been under the Advisory Solutions division, specifically purchased services. Purchased services, for all intents and purposes, encompasses any service that a hospital or health system may outsource, and typically makes up about 15-25 percent of hospital operating expenses. Purchased services may include things like janitorial services, clinical equipment maintenance, or even consulting, just to name a few.
The group that I most closely worked with was the assessment team. With so many service possibilities and such a large portion of hospital expenses being affected by purchased services, assessments present a large savings opportunity.
A large part of my role was to take the data a member would initially provide us with and categorize their expenses into buckets. These data files consisted of tens of thousands of lines of information and provided various challenges in terms of its validity, but with the use of functions like filters, pivot tables, and VLOOKUP’s the data quickly became manageable. After aggregating the expense buckets, I would pass my completed file onto our analyst, who would then perform a more detailed analysis to estimate savings opportunities and build a sales presentation.
Another project I completed was streamlining our contract library and processes. As you might imagine, Vizient has thousands of contracts across many members and subcontractors, and over time, with so many mergers and acquisitions, all that contracting is jumbled. To help better organize this system, I went through our existing contracts, developed a standard template for agreements, and centralized existing agreements into a companywide repository.
These different projects gave me the means to apply my graduate coursework in a real-world application. I could apply things like leadership, database management, healthcare systems, and even marketing in many aspects of my work.
My studies allowed me to better understand the vast spectrum of healthcare that our members operate in, while the analytical skills I’ve developed, allowed me to perform tasks in applications like Microsoft Excel and Access, with ease to keep up with the fast-paced world of consulting.
Next steps are hopefully to continue a career with Vizient, and most importantly continue to expand my healthcare experience throughout the remainder of my graduate schooling. I am expected to graduate in December of 2018, and will then have the tough decision of pursuing either consulting or a fellowship in hospital administration. Regardless, my internship allowed me not only to apply my coursework, but to learn so much more beyond that as well. I was exposed to executives, both of Vizient and member hospitals, I was able to travel, collaborate with multiple teams, and grow in every manner possible.
The classroom can only take you so far, but an internship can take that time in class to the next level. An internship can unlock the potential you possess, and open the door to a bright future. I can say with certainty that my time with Vizient this summer, with the knowledge and exposure I gained, has truly solidified and accentuated my passion for healthcare. I am now more excited than ever to continue my coursework and further my career. I have tasted the real world, and I want more.