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Arnold School of Public Health

MHA graduate Hunter Nichols lands Administrative Fellowship at Vanderbilt University Medical Center

May 17, 2017 | Erin Bluvas, 

As the son of a devoted UofSC alumnus, Sumter, S.C. native Hunter Nichols has been attending Carolina sporting events since he was a toddler. Even Nichols’ high school mascot was a Gamecock. When he received his acceptance letter to attend UofSC to earn his bachelor’s degree, Nichols didn’t think twice about the resounding “Yes!” that rang in his ears.

At Carolina, Nichols earned a bachelor’s degree in public health with a minor in business administration. His undergraduate experience was so fulfilling that he didn’t hesitate to apply to only one master’s degree program: the Department of Health Services Policy and Management’s Master of Health Administration (MHA) in the Arnold School of Public Health. The MHA offered Nichols a graduate assistantship opportunity, allowing him to get the tangible healthcare experience he was after.

“I knew I wanted to work in healthcare from an internship opportunity I received in high school and haven’t looked back since,” says Nichols. “After getting my undergraduate degree in public health and business, I needed more post graduate education and experience in order to accomplish my career goals, so the MHA program at USC was a logical option.”

Through his graduate assistantship with Palmetto Health USC Medical Group, Nichols has learned much about the administration of healthcare organizations. He’s also gained valuable experience with the South Carolina Office of Rural Health and the Regional Medical Center in Orangeburg, S.C. On campus, he has served as the Club Sports Supervisor from Campus Recreation. As a reflection of his breadth and depth of commitment to practice management, USC’s Medical Group Management Association honored Nichols with the 2017 Rising Administrator Scholarship.

Long-term, Nichols aims to make a significant impact on the communities he serves. He’d also like the opportunity to make a national impact on public health by working for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or another organization in the health field.

Short-term, he’s landed one of the most coveted opportunities among recent health administration graduates. Nichols will soon begin an Administrative Fellowship at Vanderbilt University Medical Center Hospital & Clinics. This highly competitive program will allow Nichols to work closely with executive leaders in hospitals or health organization, becoming fully immersed in day-to-day operations.

During his two-year fellowship, Nichols will engage in 25 different rotations, build core competencies, and apply what he’s learned with the program’s a See One, Do One, Lead One approach. This unique design was especially appealing to Nichols when he applied to the program.

“During the See One phase, you are getting contextual and functional knowledge of the operating units and different service lines at VUMC,” he explains. “The Do One phase is where you are exposed to the critical skill-sets, processes, and tools of a health system administrator at VUMC, before finally Lead One when you are more autonomous and independently completing projects on the administrative team.”

An experienced professional who has held multiple jobs since age 15, Nichols credits his positive attitude and professionalism for his success in securing this prestigious fellowship. He also sees his Arnold School degrees as an important foundation in preparing him for the opportunity.

“Make the most of your time as a student; you only have a limited amount of time to be a learner before you are held to the expectations of your employer,” Nichols advices current and future students. “For those interested in this degree or healthcare, we need you, and there are so many opportunities. Healthcare is not going away and it is in desperate need of innovation and professionals who are comfortable breaking the status quo.”


Sarah Sentmore (MHA grad) kicks off career in pediatric hospital administration with a fellowship at Children’s Mercy Kansas City

MHA grad Megan Le begins her career in population health management with fellowship at Duke University Hospital


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