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Arnold School of Public Health

I Am Public Health: Victoria Hickman

August 1, 2019 | Erin Bluvas, bluvase@sc.edu

Victoria Hickman always thought she’d work on the clinical side of health care, but her path changed after she witnessed medical malpractice first hand. After undergoing surgery to repair broken bones in her foot, Hickman’s grandmother suffered from neglect and poor medical treatment. During her post-operative care, she was transferred to a rehabilitation center where she experienced bed sores, malnutrition, and eventually contracted gangrene in her foot.

“After witnessing the lack of proper care and blindness towards basic patient rights, I realized it was not simply just the clinical staff in the wrong, but management,” says Hickman, who decided that in order to make change in the health care system, she needed to be on the administration side. “The mistreatment resulted in the death of my grandmother but ultimately led me to my current career path to ensure no family goes through the same pain.”

I would advise future students to gain a year or two of experience prior to starting a master’s program as the experience is key in developing your leadership style and building the framework of the field.

-Victoria Hickman, master of health administration student

She earned a bachelor’s degree in health administration from the University of North Florida in her home state and gained three years of professional experience in the health care industry before turning her focus to earning a graduate degree. Coming from a predominantly military family, deciding to join the military wasn’t a difficult decision for Hickman. As a Navy Officer candidate, Hickman is part of the Health Services Collegiate Program, which provided the opportunity/requirement to complete a Master of Health Administration (MHA) degree.

“After working in the civilian field, I realized in order to get to the positions I desired, I needed to complete my master’s degree,” Hickman says. “I also wanted to gain vital experience so the Navy program seemed like the best of both worlds.”

She’s found the Department of Health Services Policy and Management’s MHA program to have a comprehensive curriculum, imparting knowledge and skills that can be applied to many areas of health care. Hickman has also connected with faculty members who have become important mentors.

“All of my professors have been great influences and always willing to help,” she says. “Bankole Olatosi  and Jay Hamm have both helped me develop my leadership style, communication skills, and recognize areas of improvement to better myself as a future leader.”

After her December graduation, Hickman will head to Officer Development School and then begin her first position as a Navy Officer. After fulfilling her military commitment, she looks forward to continuing her education – possibly with a juris doctorate – because she has found that she truly enjoys the legal/compliance aspects of health care.

“I would advise future students to gain a year or two of experience prior to starting a master’s program as the experience is key in developing your leadership style and building the framework of the field,” Hickman suggests to prospective students. “It also aids in the coursework and allows for applicable examples for projects and discussions.”  


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