With a career spanning nearly three decades and roles at several different healthcare institutions, Jeff Francis has plenty of experience in the world of healthcare finance. He’s currently the Vice President of Finance and CFO at Nebraska Methodist Health System in Omaha, NE, and he teaches Finance for the Healthcare Manager within Creighton’s EMBA program. But even more important than the expertise he’s built over the years, is the fact that he understands how vital it is to make information manageable for students.
He notes that if you haven’t spent a lot of time in the financial world, the terms can feel like a different language, but he finds students are often better prepared than they might think. Once he breaks down the vocabulary into laymen’s terms, students can easily join the conversation and bring in a variety of perspectives related to finance in the healthcare industry. He says, “They’re able to bring their experiences and view a topic in a slightly different way.” Like a 3D camera of sorts, these different viewpoints help others in the class dig deeper and understand the topics even better.
And those topics are worth exploring, because learning to speak to the financial aspect of a decision or proposal can make a world of difference. “Many students have a solid clinical or operational perspective, and when they can also speak to the bottom line, they’re better prepared to convince a CFO or a senior executive about a project,” says Francis. That well-rounded holistic approach can help current and aspiring leaders more effectively shape decisions and guide their institutions.
The Financial Piece of the Healthcare Puzzle
One of the Executive Healthcare MBA program’s biggest strengths, Francis says, is its breadth. It gives a broad perspective to the business side of healthcare. Many students have already excelled on the clinical side, and the EMBA program helps them round out their financial acumen. Often, participants haven’t been immersed in the full business continuum of running a healthcare institution. They need the formal training offered in the EMBA program to fully understand the intersection of finance and healthcare. The program’s Jesuit foundation is also important. In his class, Francis doesn’t just explore why to do something from a financial perspective. He also digs into the ethics of a decision or business approach.
He sees classmates working together to sort through these topics, and notes he wishes he could have gone through his own MBA program with a cohort. The same group of students completes the sequence of courses together, meeting in person four times throughout the program, and forms lifelong connections and friendships along the way.
His favorite part of teaching? Along with watching those connections develop, “It’s seeing people grow in their understanding of finance.” The course concludes with an individualized project that ties into students’ current positions. Seeing them effectively add the financial perspective to a real-world task is rewarding for Francis. “At the end of the class, each student can confidently bring back to their organization the understanding of the financial picture of a real proposal.”