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Student Experiences

BYU Students Win Healthcare Leadership Case Competition

“Healthcare is diverse,” says Britt Berrett, teaching professor of management and managing director of the BYU Marriott Healthcare Leadership Collaborative. Because healthcare organizations include employees ranging from nurses to administrators, everyone must work as a team to solve institutional issues. To help prepare students for such collaboration, a new healthcare case competition called the Wasatch Cup invited students from colleges throughout the region to present healthcare solutions to industry professionals.

Four female students hold large check for $5,000 dollars, standing next to competition administrators
Team Nightingales win first place at the Wasatch Cup.
Photo courtesy of Britt Berrett.

The BYU Marriott School of Business’s Healthcare Leadership Collaborative organized the Wasatch Cup and invited students to pitch ideas to Salt Lake City’s St. Mark’s Hospital on ways to enhance their vision, mission, and values. Twelve teams from across Utah and Idaho participated, with the majority of teams being from Brigham Young University.

“With case studies, you can interact, compete, and learn from other schools,” explains Berrett. “Students can elevate their understanding and awareness of all the complexities of healthcare.”

Teams of students were formed and provided with a coach to aid them in the preparation process, and then they prepared for two weeks prior to the competition. The students used their knowledge and experience to suggest actions that St. Mark’s could do to enhance the hospital. At the competition, teams pitched their recommendations to industry professionals.

The top three teams moved on to a final round where the hospital’s executive team, including the CEO, listened to the presentations. The teams that made the cut were the Improvement Partners from the University of Utah, DCPI from BYU, and the Nightingales from BYU.

The Nightingales, a team of three nursing students and one pre-med student from BYU, won first place. The Nightingales presented a holistic approach focused on more follow-up for patients with mental health issues. They included evidence-based research from similar institutions to show how St. Mark’s could implement this approach in the hospital.

Although the Nightingales took first place, they almost withdrew prior to competition day. “We were all feeling overwhelmed, and I felt so intimated that while I didn’t want to quit, I wanted to drop out,” says Jane Pearson, a senior in the nursing program from Cincinnati, Ohio, and a Nightingales team member. “But we knew our ideas were important for St. Mark’s to hear.”

“We were really torn if we had enough time to bring everything together, but we found determination,” adds senior Breanna Hall, another Nightingale team member from Rancho Santa Margarita, California, who is majoring in nursing.

The team pushed through their insecurities because they felt passionate about helping patients at St. Mark’s. “I remember finishing the first round of our presentation and feeling so strongly about our ideas that we just wanted to make it to the next round to advocate for mental health patients,” Hall says.

Nightingales’ coach Marie Prothero, an assistant professor of nursing at BYU, said that her team’s consistency and dedication led to a great presentation. “They learned they can do hard things in the face of adversity,” she reflects. “The competition created four fantastic healthcare leaders. I don’t think they knew that before the competition, but they do now.”

The experience of presenting reminded the Nightingales team that healthcare is all about the patients. “It was encouraging to see so many healthcare leaders enthused by our patient-focused ideas to improve psychiatric care,” says Alisa Morrell, a senior majoring in neuroscience from Kaysville, Utah. “There are good people in healthcare committed to patients.”

Although there are many challenges in the healthcare industry, Berrett believes aspiring professionals can be successful if they emulate Christ. “Christ was loving, patient, and kind. He also took the least likely of candidates to serve Him,” he exclaims. “We look at healthcare and see how complicated it is and think, ‘We can’t do this.’ But the answer is ‘Yes, you definitely can.’”


Written by Maggie Olsen