Jenkins MBA Student and Critical Care Nurse Learns the Business of Healthcare

Jennifer E. Engen

Jessica Drummond has always loved learning something new. As an undergrad at NC State, she majored in zoology and minored in English literature. She worked as a biochemistry undergraduate TA, reported the news on the college radio station and even joined the Italian club.

“I always had a hard time committing to things because I had so many interests,” Drummond laughs.

Today, in addition to being a critical care nurse, Drummond is also a part-time online Jenkins MBA student. For Drummond, the reason was simple: “I wanted to broaden my knowledge, learn from experts and challenge myself to get out of my comfort zone,” she says.

Drummond’s journey into the medical field began when she spent five years doing immunology research and started working at the Henry M. Jackson Foundation, where she worked on vaccine development. It was there she realized that her favorite part of her job was interacting with the nurses and doctors on the research team.  

“One of the research nurses suggested I look into going to nursing school, so I did. I went to the University of Maryland School of Nursing, and as soon as I sat in my first nursing class, I realized I was in the right place,” she remembers.

I was surrounded by students like myself who had different backgrounds and prior careers, but all chose to move into the field of nursing.  It was a great experience, although quite challenging.

Drummond recalls her first years of direct care nursing being very taxing, as she learned to deal with complex patients and support family members at the end of life.  

“At the University of Maryland, I transitioned to the surgical ICU and ended up working part-time as a local travel nurse, where I did emergency room nursing. I moved down to Charlotte once my oldest son was born to be closer to family and worked in the emergency room and then in the surgical trauma ICU at Carolinas Medical Center,” Drummond says. “I held several roles within the hospital, including clinical supervisor, clinical research nurse and a trauma performance improvement and education coordinator. 

She left the hospital setting in 2017 and started work at Premier, Inc., a Charlotte-based company that works to improve healthcare in five key areas – group purchasing, consulting, healthcare collaboratives, technology and advocacy. Drummond’s current role allows her to partner with hospitals and health systems to help transform healthcare, which is why she thought to pursue her MBA degree. She found that as early as her first semester in the program, she was able to apply what she learned in the classroom to her work with Premier. 

“Because healthcare is a business, understanding the financial side of the house has been really beneficial,” Drummond says. “I am also getting a certification in business analytics, which I use in my day-to-day activities already. Healthcare is overwhelmed with data, and providing meaningful data is a crucial skill to have.”

And choosing to pursue her MBA at NC State was an easy one.

The Jenkins MBA Program had an excellent reputation and I spoke with other students in the program before even applying. Everything from the application process to registration to the career counseling I have gotten at NC State has been amazing.

“The professors have all been outstanding and I have enjoyed being in the program with students from various industries. It’s nice to talk about business and with others outside of healthcare and get insights into their challenges. I’m so happy with my decision.” 

Jenkins MBA Student and Critical Care Nurse Learns the Business of Healthcare

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