By Katie Bahr
Bryn Evans entered the field of healthcare through a backdoor: outreach programs. Shortly after obtaining her undergraduate degree, she ended up at Vanderbilt’s School of Nursing, managing their house call program, and stayed with outreach for 15 years.
“I’m not a nurse. I don’t have a clinical background,” she said. “My job was managing the logistics of physician schedules and making the house call program work at the best possible efficiency.”
Evans did it well enough to earn multiple promotions and was soon managing the school’s Employer Health Care Clinic program. She transformed empty spaces into clinics, finding everything from plumbing to internet access to make the clinics fully usable and sustainable.
“My undergraduate degree was in sociology, and I really liked what I was doing,” Evans said. “We were making a difference for kids in public schools and employees who needed consistent checkups. But I was learning finance from the ground up and operational practices as I went.”
Evans established 10 different employer health clinics around Nashville — no mean feat for on-the-job learning — then decided it was time to take her skills and impact to the next level. She turned to Vanderbilt’s Master of Management in Health Care to help her make the leap.
“I was getting to the point where I needed a masters to advance,” she said. “Not just for the degree, but to make the clinic program larger and more efficient. For that, my interests started becoming more finance based.”
While Evans was pursuing her degree, Vanderbilt’s medical school took over running the nurse-practitioner-based clinics she had worked to build. Without a medical or business degree, her career trajectory might have stalled in the transition.
“That was a huge change in the organization,” she explained. “The MMHC didn’t end up taking me where I thought I was going, but it definitely allowed me to progress. I learned so much about management in general.”
Evans’s education went beyond simply learning a business skill set. The collegiality Evans developed with her diverse cohort broadened her view of the field and helped her better value her own abilities.
“I was surrounded by physicians, nurse leaders, administrators, and we were all in the same boat,” she said. “To get all those different perspectives in the same room and to understand that everyone has different strengths really boosted my confidence.”
After more than a decade spent refining her project logistics, Evans was able to expand her knowledge base in just months with the MMHC program. Since graduating in 2014, Evans has been promoted twice and is now the director of finance and operations at Vanderbilt’s School of Nursing. She ties her fast advancement directly to the program’s focus on finance.
“Pre-MMHC, I was given more and more projects that were financed based, and it was a struggle for me to read a balance statement,” Evans said. “As soon as school was over, I was thrown into it. I would not be able to do what I do today if I hadn’t gotten a full understanding of what I was doing financially.”
While she says the program is definitely not easy, she says it’s worth the initial sacrifice for a long-term gain. “It’s such a short program, it’s easy to commit to doing it and locking it down for a year,” she added.