Left: Laura Clapp and Andy Garman watch students practice for a case competition.
Just over a year ago, Rush Health Systems Management students Siddharth Chittajallu, Kelsey Lynch and Tumaria McDaniel thoroughly analyzed the financial and operational status of a West Coast children’s hospital. The center was already more than $6 million in the red, but the group’s suggestions to help it improve patient care while reducing costs had the potential to turn all that around.
Chittajallu, Lynch and McDaniel were participants — and first-place winners — in a national student case competition. Rush students like them participate in several such experiential learning opportunities each year — participation that is now supported in part by the newly established J. Robert Clapp Jr. Endowed Student Education Fund.
“These competitions give students practice solving the big financial and operational challenges facing health care today,” said Andy Garman, professor of health systems management at Rush. “They provide an incredible learning opportunity for future health care leaders, one we’d like to make more broadly available to our students in the coming years.”
No one understood the importance of this kind of hands-on learning more than the late J. Robert (Bob) Clapp Jr., who served as executive vice president and executive director of Rush University Hospitals and also taught health systems management at Rush.
“Bob enjoyed attending and judging case competitions,” said Bob’s wife, Laura Clapp. “The students work extremely hard and learn among their peers from across the U.S.”
Bob’s commitment to education and mentoring motivated Laura and 97 other donors to give more than $60,000 to establish an endowed student education fund in Bob’s name. The fund will allow students to participate in regional and national case competitions; present research projects and graduate work at professional conferences; and attend professional association events, such as those put on by the American College of Healthcare Executives and the National Association of Health Services Executives — of which Bob Clapp was an active member.
“Bobby championed diversity, interacting with new people and exchanging ideas. He always encouraged our students to pursue these kinds of opportunities,” Garman said. “With this kind of support, they can heed his encouragement and become better health care leaders.”