Former Saint Francis Medical Center Executive Teaches New MBA Health Administration Course at Southeast



Nov. 29, 2005 – The latest opportunity offered to students in Southeast Missouri State University’s master of business administration (MBA) program, a health administration option, equips them with the skills and expertise needed to plunge into a career in the nation’s vast health care industry.  

“This program represents our MBA program’s effort to respond to the educational needs in our region,” said Dr. Kenneth Heischmidt, director of graduate programs in Southeast’s Harrison College of Business. “Medical care is one of our region’s major employers, and we’re trying to meet the educational needs of that segment,” he said. “This option provides a foundation of knowledge for managers and executives in the health services industry to be more effective.”

Southeast’s MBA students not only have an additional opportunity available to them through the new health administration option, but they also have the added privilege of learning from Dr. John Mackel, who recently retired as vice president of medical affairs at Saint Francis Medical Center. Mackel is teaching “Health Care Strategy and Quality,” the first course to be offered through the MBA’s health administration option.          

“Dr. Mackel has impressive credentials, including an extensive background in family practice, health education and health administration, and he has multi-national experience,” Heischmidt said. “We’re very lucky to have him.”

Megan Price, an MBA student from Sullivan, Mo., agrees.

“This is a great class,” she said. “Dr. Mackel has lots of experience with different health systems and gives students real-world applications to the information we’re learning.”

Mackel is enthusiastic about the health administration program, agreeing with Heischmidt that training students in this specialty will be beneficial to the region.  

“I’d been telling the business college that they should consider offering a program like this for the past couple of years, because health care is a huge industry,” Mackel said. “In Cape Girardeau alone, 8,000 to 10,000 people derive their livelihood from health care, between the hospitals, nursing homes, doctors’ offices, physical therapy practices and other health care agencies. All of these things have to be managed, and health care is sufficiently different enough from regular commercial business that it needs its own focus,” he said.

Mackel feels the program’s benefits are two-fold, commenting that the knowledge students gain from the courses will increase their marketability across-the-board.

“I think it’s important for students at this University to have the opportunity to obtain some qualifications that will open doors for them into the health care community,” he said. “It’s a huge, huge industry all over the country, ranging from the small doctor’s office to huge corporate America. It doesn’t matter where their interests lie, health care is so vast that there’s something in it for everyone, from health care marketing to health care statistics to health care construction management. It’s almost like a nation within a nation. People need to have an awareness and an understanding of that. It’s a real plus for young people. The opportunities are available and will continue to be available,” Mackel said.

“Health care is one of the largest expenditures in the national budget, $1.5 trillion, and it will go higher because of the rising baby boomer expense,” he added. “Only eight countries in the world have a gross national product higher than the U.S. health care budget. This is too big to ignore,” he stressed.

Mackel, who is originally from Northern Ireland, earned his medical degree from Queens University in Belfast. He also holds a master’s of health service administration degree from the University of Alberta in Canada, a Canadian certification in family medicine, and he is certified by the American Board of Family Practice.

In addition to serving as vice president of medical affairs at Saint Francis Medical Center for five years, Mackel has international experience in health care administration and education. He has worked in the Canadian health care system and has experience with the British National Health Service as well as HMOs. Mackel has taught, developed and directed programs at the University of Alberta and Misericordia Hospital in Canada, and served on the faculty at Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland, Ore. He has served as president of the Alberta College of Family Physicians of Canada and as chief medical examiner for the Medical Council of Canada. Mackel also has served on the medical staff and as a family medicine director of Kaiser Permanente in Portland, Ore., on the medical staff of the University of Alberta’s Misericordia Hospital in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and in private practice in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Mackel also has received fellowships from the Royal Society of Medicine of Great Britain, the American Academy of Family Physicians and the College of Family Physicians of Canada, and has been recognized for his services to family medicine in Alberta, Canada.

The course Mackel is currently teaching, Health Care Strategy and Quality, consists of three main segments, the first being an overview of the various health care segments in the United States as well as other countries.

“There’s no question that once the baby boomers become senior citizens, there will be an extreme increase in demand,” Mackel said. “Most experts in this area say the current system will not serve the need. This course explores the advantages and disadvantages of the major health systems in other first-world countries, and what might be adaptable to the United States.”

The course also covers the creation and operation of specific strategies for particular health care organizations, as well as administering quality care in individual segments within a health care organization.

“This course covers the progression of the overall system to the individual segments within a health care organization,” Mackel said. “It’s like dipping your toe in the ocean,” he added. “Trying to cover all of this in one semester requires a tremendous oversimplification, but it’s a start.

“I’m pleased the University is doing this program,” he added. “I think it’s been needed and will be a useful addition to the University’s offerings.”

The Harrison College of Business will be adding another course to the MBA health administration offerings for the spring semester, and is planning a third course for the fall 2006 semester, according to Heischmidt.

For additional information on the MBA health administration program, view the Harrison College of Business Web site at or contact the Southeast Missouri State University MBA office by phone at (573) 651-5116 or by e-mail at