Regis partners with Xavier University of Louisiana to prepare students for the business of health care

This spring, a group of business-savvy students in Louisiana will graduate not only with the knowledge and credentials to become pharmacists, but, thanks to a Regis dual-degree program, they’ll also have the skills to become leaders in the health care industry. 

The students, from Xavier University of Louisiana, will be the first to simultaneously complete that university’s Doctor of Pharmacy degree as well as the M.S. in Health Services Administration offered by Regis.

The online dual-degree program, which officially started in 2022, offers Xavier University of Louisiana students what’s often called an MBA in health care — the opportunity to take courses in strategic planning, finance, organizational ethics, operations, research and technology management as they work on their pharmacy degrees. As part of the program, students take online classes alongside Rueckert-Hartman College for Health Professions students from many disciplines, such as nursing, physical therapy, medicine, counseling, and more. This interprofessional education opportunity is unique and sets students up for collaborative practice in their future employment.

“We have found that dual degrees in the healthcare marketplace are attractive to employers,” said Tristen Amador, Ph.D., MSW, associate dean and professor in the Division of Health Services Education. “Having a clinical degree combined with a graduate business degree in healthcare is a powerful combination in our increasingly complex health systems. Combining clinical and business skillsets closes knowledge gaps and launches healthcare professionals into leadership positions. These leaders are prepared to create equitable health systems for all but especially for those most marginalized among us.”

Marissa Johnson, a fourth-year pharmacy student at Xavier, said she enrolled in the Regis program to find ways to be competitive as she entered the health care workforce. 

When she first learned about the program, she was told, “‘This isn't an MBA, but the healthcare version of an MBA,’” Johnson said. “And I said, ‘Well, I'll take it.’ That's what I wanted.”

Since 2016, the HSA program has offered a dual degree option to Regis pharmacy students, providing them the opportunity to learn alongside people of varied professional backgrounds. To date, more than 75 Regis students have completed the dual degree program. After seeing so much success with the program internally, Regis began looking at ways to expand it to another university.

That’s where Xavier University of Louisiana, located in New Orleans, came in. Xavier, the only Catholic Historically Black College and University (HBCU), is the first Catholic university to be founded by a saint, Katharine Drexel. Amador said Xavier’s Catholic roots made it a smart fit for a pharmacy partnership.

“Xavier University of Louisiana is a Catholic institution, and so we felt like we had a lot of shared values, a lot of common ground,” Amador said. “Another thing we love about Xavier is that they're a historically black college and university, an HBCU, and so we love the richness of that diversity.”

Kennedi White, a third-year Xavier student enrolled in the program, said she felt encouraged from the moment she met Regis leaders. “I felt like everyone was so supportive,” she said. “I felt like it'd be a great opportunity, especially knowing that we have the support because pharmacy school is rigorous.”

Seth Alexander agreed. 

“The staff at Regis is heaven-sent. The staff is just so welcoming,” he said. “This environment is really good.”

Fourth-year student Taylor Guillory said she enrolled in the program because she wanted more career options. Her goal is to work in a clinical pharmacy setting at first — but she’d still like the opportunity to work in health care administration.

“I feel like gaining a lot of clinical experience and then working in health administration and pharmacy afterwards — that will be like a good crossover,” she said.

Students Joi Coleman and Ariel Ford agreed. Having the option to make a career transition was key to enrolling in the program.

“The thing that piqued my interest was the fact that this is a degree that I can use to advance in my career, but I can also use it as a separate career,” Coleman said.