Exploring Educational and Healthcare Provider Partnerships to Improve Graduate Placement and Healthcare Recruiting Outcomes

Exploring Educational and Healthcare Provider Partnerships to Improve Graduate Placement and Healthcare Recruiting Outcomes

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By Dr. Amanda Smith, Vice Provost – Curriculum and Academic Services and Beth Garland, Senior Vice President – Strategic Operations, Ultimate Medical Academy

We would like to begin by telling you about Ultimate Medical Academy and then share how we are maximizing our Career Services focus with a Regional Strategic Partnership structure and an Alumni Network that benefits graduates, employees and healthcare organizations alike.

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From how we operate, to the specific solutions we tailor to employers, UMA is set apart by our unique point of view, support structures, offerings and the overall way we focus on both students and employer partners.

Our mission, vision and partnership philosophy

At UMA, our mission is to equip and empower students to excel in healthcare careers. Our mission, vision and partnership philosophy guide everything we do, whether we’re updating a program’s curriculum for evolving industry trends or developing new services to work more effectively with employers.

It all begins with our commitment to our students. Our supportive educational experience is aimed at helping the next generation of allied health professionals achieve results as they look to start their careers in the professional healthcare community.

We also believe in the importance of looking ahead, which we are inspired to do with our vision to be a leader in providing successful career outcomes for our students through a culture of innovation, commitment and service.

Ultimately, being a good partner helps us have an ongoing positive impact on healthcare. We firmly believe that being a good partner means living up to our commitment to both students and employers. In this way, we help all our stakeholders achieve their goals.

UMA history

UMA is an institution that supports healthcare providers with a pipeline of allied healthcare professionals and continuing medical education (CME) offerings for physicians and more. This gives UMA a unique perspective on curriculum design and technology from 3D to virtual reality that resonates with aspiring students and diligent healthcare professionals.

Founded in 1994 as a nonprofit school with a single campus in Clearwater, Florida, today UMA is a comprehensive healthcare educational institution with a national presence. Accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES), UMA offers allied healthcare diploma and associate degree programs online and on the ground. We currently have 14,000 students and 40,000 alumni across the country.

The UMA higher education experience includes individualized student services throughout all phases of the student journey, from admissions to the job search. Our institution also guides alumni in finding new jobs, progressing in their current positions and enhancing their skills to remain competitive in the job market.

In 2011, UMA’s expanded with two CME divisions and added a third in 2012. The CMEs provided continuing education to more than 38,000 physicians and others in 2016. Maintaining active credentials is a mandatory requirement for most HCPs, and UMA provides award-winning CME offerings that meet the diverse needs of this busy professional community.

Strategic approach

While UMA demonstrates success in placing our graduates, we are always striving to improve our processes and results. To help us strategically plan to strengthen and grow our employer partnerships, we have used several tools to identify opportunities to enhance outcomes.

These include hosting employer roundtables on specific hiring and retention issues as well as working with outside firms to conduct market surveys to uncover hiring practices and employer hiring and retention pain points.

We also compared and contrasted nationwide educational partnership case studies that moved the needle for corporate health care providers and their staffing needs.

UMA has confirmed that implementing a continuous loop of learning enhancements is an effective way to meet student career goals and employer job needs. We constantly look at how we can work hand-in-hand with our curriculum development team to backwards-design resources that support the goals of employers who hire UMA graduates. We know that education partners can provide valuable ongoing support for graduates, new hires and long term career pathing for employees.

Advisory boards

In addition to employers, a range of stakeholders provides feedback to the UMA including program leadership, faculty, instructors and advisory boards.

For several years, UMA has used advisory boards to give us valuable insight and as part of our accreditation requirements. Each UMA Program Director is responsible for assembling and working with an advisory board for their specific program.

This includes creating an annual plan that factors in advice received from the board on program improvements. These plans are then integrated into the overall UMA annual plan.

In addition, each year UMA holds an advisory board summit to gain more insight, which is timed to coincide with UMA’s fall commencement ceremony.

Engaging curriculum

We are data driven to continuously improve and to provide the best educational experience for our UMA students and healthcare professionals as well as the best service to meet the needs of our existing and new healthcare provider partners.

Ongoing curricular updates help ensure that our curriculum is engaging and relevant. In 2016, we launched a new and improved Generation 3 (Gen 3) experience for our programs, which enhanced our offerings with rich multimedia, interactive, and career readiness threads that engage and prepare today’s students for the future of opportunities in healthcare.

Our Gen 3 program offerings are the result of deep cross-departmental partnerships that leverage our unique 360-degree support model.

They engage students through an innovative curriculum with an improved user experience that includes a “Why, What, How” approach that links coursework to real-world job skills and career outcomes.

Educational content is delivered in short bursts to help students focus and retain information through learning modules geared toward all different types of learners.

The programs also include enriched student support with 70-plus on-site instructors providing support to all active online students and recent graduates. UMA’s on-site instructors provide academic support services. They also teach Student Success, General Education and Career Success courses at the right time in the student life cycle to help ensure student success.

Career services

UMA students take a Career Success course taught by an instructor 15 to 10 weeks prior to graduation. During this period, UMA students are also transferred from their Learner Services advisor (who has been with them through most of their diploma or degree program) to a Career Services Advisor. These services are offered to students and graduates at no additional cost to prepare students to apply for jobs in their chosen career.

UMA helps students find externships, connect with mentors, prepare résumés, cover letters and job applications, and schedule interviews. In addition to creating a resume using an online Resume Generator tool, students are also strongly encouraged to participate in mock interviews via webcam or on the phone.

As we develop new approaches in response to problems that emerge, we work to help remove barriers that could undermine student success in gaining employment. Recent examples include partnerships with ride-sharing services to address transportation needs to and from interviews and the first weeks on the job, dental services to enhance the smiles of students going to job interviews, and mail order providers to provide interview appropriate clothing, again at no additional cost to the student or employer.

UMA students live almost everywhere in the country and often are not open to relocating. As such UMA placement support is tailored to specific geographic needs.

Our hundreds of dedicated Career Services Advisors work tirelessly contacting employers around the country on behalf of our students. However, our research has shown that we can be more efficient and effective by connecting our alumni and nurturing our partnerships with healthcare providers.

Strategic partnership focus

Beyond UMA’s focus on alumni relations, we are also spreading the good news about UMA to employers by partnering with our marketing team and outside agencies to build a stronger brand for UMA in the healthcare field. We want healthcare hiring teams to know they can turn to UMA as a trusted resource for job-ready candidates.

To help in this effort, we updated the HireUMA.com website, are participating in industry conferences, authoring pertinent white paper and employer blog content, and hosting employer roundtables. We’ve found these tools offer value in helping our employer partners stay current.

It has also been effective to invite employers to our online campus to experience UMA firsthand – to explore our student support model, to ask questions, and to share with us what they expect from our graduates and from an education partner.

But we realized as much as we would love to bring all employers to UMA, we needed to do a better job of taking UMA on the road where our employers are located and when they are looking for new candidates for open roles.

So, we launched a new team to build relationships directly with employers. These UMA Regional Managers of Strategic Partnerships are strategically located where our graduates and employers live and work in the Southeast, Northeast, Midwest and Southwest.

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They are partnering with Career Services to match our graduates to healthcare jobs, creating strong paths to employment for our students. We are all working together to raise awareness about the amazing job UMA does for our students and healthcare providers.

Corporate alliance partners

Employers who have hired 50 or more graduates are designated as Corporate Alliance Partners with whom UMA fosters special relationships. We pay attention to their needs and to ways to make students successful as job candidates and employees. For example, UMA developed a special web tool to help students with the CVS Pharmacy application process. UMA also developed a non-credit module for a division of Ciox Corporation and stationed Career Services Advisors at Ciox for several months to help share and develop best practices in meeting their hiring needs.

Alumni services

In 2016, we successfully re-imagined the Alumni Services team, which is designed around UMA’s strategic priority to empower alumni to achieve long-term career success. This included launching quarterly newsletters followed by our ConnectUMA alumni-networking platform in September 2016.

More than 1,300 alumni are already taking advantage of the private online community to receive institutional support, network with peers, and obtain professional development opportunities, including a job board, mentorship openings, and relevant life and career tips.

ConnectUMA received the Best Performing Professional School Graduway Award at a special luncheon ceremony in March 2017 at Graduway’s Global Leaders Summit held at UCLA.

In summary

We know that future success for our graduates depends on strong institution and healthcare provider partnerships. By working effectively together we can refine curriculum development to meet employer needs with job-ready candidates.

Providing on-going support for graduates and employees demonstrates UMA’s commitment to student and employer success.


Dr. Amanda Smith

DR. AMANDA SMITH is Vice Provost, Curriculum and Academic Services for Ultimate Medical Academy where she is responsible for providing educational leadership, vision and strategy through the orchestration and execution of curricular strategies that enhance student engagement, retention and placement outcomes while increasing key metrics and measures of institutional effectiveness

Prior to joining UMA in February 2014, Smith served as Vice President of Curriculum and Development for Curriculum Technology, LLC. She has 14 years of successful experience across online and campus sectors in curriculum development, custom educational product development, new programs, compliance, faculty support, as well as best practices for teaching and learning.

Smith has a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Denver, a M.A. in Cross Cultural Studies in Education from National University of Fresno and a B.A. in Liberal Studies/Early Childhood Education from California State University at Fresno.



Contact Information: Dr. Amanda Smith // Vice Provost – Curriculum and Academic Services // Ultimate Medical Academy // 813-605-7823 // amasmith@ultimatemedical.edu // UltimateMedical.edu // Social Media: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dr-amanda-lynne-smith-672a1231/


Beth Garland

BETH GARLAND is Senior Vice President of Strategic Operations at Ultimate Medical Academy where she leads initiatives to improve and support the school’s operations. She successfully cultivated the Alumni Services team, which is designed around UMA’s strategic priority to empower alumni to achieve long-term career success, and is currently developing a Regional Business Development team to match UMA graduates to healthcare jobs.

Prior to joining UMA in December 2015, Garland held the role of Chief Business Officer and Executive Director for Innovative Education, the online and continuing education unit of the University of South Florida. She also served in senior leadership roles for multiple startups in the education space, including Apollidon Learning and Mindgate Media.

Garland holds a B.A. in English from Vanderbilt University and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.



Contact Information: Beth Garland // Senior Vice President – Strategic Operations // Ultimate Medical Academy // 813-605-2590 // bgarland@ultimatemedical.edu // HireUMA.com // Social Media: https://www.linkedin.com/in/beth-ferguson-garland-b290285/

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