As an immigrant growing up in New Jersey, Yong Sang “Matt” Cho and his family didn’t have easy access to health care. The experience inspired him to pursue a Master in Health Administration (MHA) to help other people in similar situations. “I want to make an impact in the U.S. health care system by serving patients that are in need,” he says.
Cho is getting a head start on that goal in his final semester at The George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health, serving as an administrative fellow for MedStar Ambulatory Services in Columbia, Maryland. “MedStar is an amazing organization. I’ve been doing project management work, supporting their urgent care and ambulatory surgery centers,” continues Cho, who won the Department of Health Policy and Management’s Shouldice Award for Excellence in Ambulatory Care. “The good part about an administrative fellowship is that when you’re doing project work, you’re not too far from the patients. I like making health care delivery better for the patients we serve.”
Cho came to the Milken Institute SPH after serving as a mental health specialist in the U.S. Army. “I wanted to continue to serve patients and decided on a Master of Health Administration because I was more interested in organizational growth and development and the business side of things.”
His Army experience helped pave the way to an internship last year at Sheppard Pratt, a mental health hospital in Towson, Maryland, which he landed thanks to the Milken Institute SPH alumni network. “The chief strategy officer at Sheppard Pratt is an alumna and served on a panel at an MHA event. Afterwards, I reached out to her to ask about internship opportunities. She said, ‘Oh, they’re hiring now, so apply.’ I got the job. It’s usually a summer internship, but they were nice enough to let me extend my stay for a year to get more experience, which was great. I was an operational excellence team intern at Sheppard Pratt. And because they have an internal certification course, I was able to earn Lean Six Sigma [a process improvement approach] certification, which I know helped in my fellowship hunt.”
At the Milken Institute SPH, Cho values the strong alumni network and attentive faculty. “The SPH alumni really care, and they welcome you as part of the family,” he says. “And the professors are all accessible. Every single one of them shared their cell phone numbers for communication purposes. They’re invested in your success. They’re also professionals who have practiced in the industry. Having them teach you about your future career is the best thing you could ask for.”
With only weeks to go until graduation, Cho is savoring the experience at MedStar. “I love working with the executive team here at MedStar Ambulatory Services because we put patients first. I get to be in the forefront of developing community connections and making health care accessible to not only underserved populations, but everyone in the DC, Maryland, and Virginia region.”