UMass Online and Mass General Brigham Form Strategic Alliance

  • 1st largest employer in the state (MGB)
  • #1 educator of the Massachusetts workforce
  • #1 public university in New England

About the Partnership

The University of Massachusetts (UMass) announced a strategic alliance with Mass General Brigham, (formerly Partners HealthCare) and UMass Online to develop a certificate and degree completion pathway for healthcare professionals. Mass General Brigham, the largest employer in the state, selected UMass Online to provide its employees the opportunity to earn an online Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration as part of Mass General Brigham’s Workforce Development programming. The program’s curriculum will be developed specifically for Mass General Brigham workforce to advance their skills within a field expected to grow 14% in the next ten years, adding nearly 2 million more jobs in the sector. 

In addition to developing degree completion programs, UMass Online is working with Mass General Brigham and Commonwealth Corporation, the state’s quasi-public workforce development agency, to develop a stackable Practice Assistance Training Program Certificate as part of a grant awarded to UMass Online by Commonwealth Corporation.

Simply put, there is no partnership more powerful than one between the Commonwealth’s largest employer and its public university. Through this initiative, we are expanding our ability to deliver on our mission of educating Massachusetts citizens and supporting our business community in the most innovative way possible.” Marty Meehan President, University of Massachusetts

Industry and Impact on Need for Advancement in Healthcare Workforce Development

While Massachusetts is nationally recognized for its robust, high-performing healthcare organizations, a looming workforce shortage could negatively impact future health outcomes. 

The healthcare labor shortage in Massachusetts is expected to reach 43,000 vacant positions in the next five years. These shortages will affect patient care and could result in delays in care, and high employee turnover, leading to poorer clinical outcomes.  There is an economic impact when healthcare organizations can’t recruit qualified employees, resulting in lost wages and income which helps fuel other sectors of the economy.  

Higher education institutions, state government, healthcare organizations and other stakeholders must work together to increase the number of people coming into the field and develop career pathways. The partnership between UMass Online and Mass General Brigham and their hospitals are addressing the shortage by creating innovative, online, competency-based academic courses in high demand careers.

There is a great deal of synergy between our organizations' missions including a focus on research, teaching, and a deep commitment to making opportunity accessible in all of the communities we serve. This collaboration will lead to enhanced educational and career advancement opportunities for our frontline employees, many of whom come from diverse communities. Their successful achievements will benefit the patients of tomorrow.” Rose Sheehan Chief Human Resources Officer for Mass General Brigham

About the Grant

UMass Online and Mass General Brigham Receive $200,000 grant from Commonwealth Corporation to develop an online competency based training program for Practice Assistants

UMass Online in conjunction with Mass General Brigham (MGB) and its world-renowned hospitals, Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital was one of three partnerships to receive funding through the Digital Innovation & Life Long Learning (DILL) competitive grant process.  Partnerships awarded included employers and higher education institutions and received up to $200,000 through 2-year grants to develop and implement new digital competency-based programs for entry-level incumbent health care workers. 

The UMass Online and Mass General Brigham project will create the Practice Assistant Training Program (PATP), culminating in a UMass certificate, an entry point for future UMass education paths including a Bachelor’s degree. Employees who participate in PATP can anticipate upskilling into Practice Assistant positions, and wage increases.  The position is an entry-level position providing customer service to patients as they enter medical facilities.  This entry-level position requires specialized customer service skills, communications skills, and technology skills such as Microsoft Office word and excel, and EPIC training. 

This project is funded through the WCTF line item in the Fiscal Year 2019 State Budget (7002-1075) and a grant from the Strada Education Network. This state-funded initiative is administered by Commonwealth Corporation on behalf of the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development (EOLWD).

Massachusetts Workforce Development logo


About the Partners

Partners Healthcare logo

Mass General Brigham is a not-for-profit health care system that is committed to patient care, research, teaching, and service to the community locally and globally. Collaboration among our institutions and health care professionals is central to our efforts to advance our mission. 

Founded in 1994 by Brigham and Women's Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital, Mass General Brigham includes community and specialty hospitals, a health insurance plan, a physician network, community health centers, home care and long-term care services, and other health care entities. 

Commonwealth Corporation logo

Commonwealth Corporation is a quasi-public workforce development agency that strengthens the skills of Massachusetts youth and adults by investing in innovative partnerships with industry, education and workforce organizations. Its primary goals are to build regional industry training partnerships that prepare youth and unemployed workers for jobs in demand that lead to higher rates of employment; to upgrade the skills of underemployed workers to meet specific employer skill demands leading to job retention, upgrades and wage gains, and; to increase the share of youth engaged in education and employment pathways preparing them for post-secondary education and careers. Commonwealth. Corporation’s goal is to extend Massachusetts’ leadership in education and training, and its overall prosperity, by ensuring that all people benefit from our economy.

The Commission was comprised of executives from some of Massachusetts’ largest companies, college and university presidents, community and workforce system leaders, innovators in digital learning, and leading scholars of learning science, organizations, and the future of education and work. 

UMass Online logo

UMass Online was created in 2001 by the Board of Trustees to meet the University’s mission of increasing access to quality education to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and the nation. While serving separate overall purposes, the alignment of the organizations' missions around teaching, research, and commitment to public service make Partners HealthCare, Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and UMass Online well suited to collaborate in the design of educational and career opportunities.

University of Massachusetts system logo

The University of Massachusetts is a five-campus public research university system committed to advancing knowledge and transforming lives. Through its world-class educational programs, groundbreaking research enterprise, and its impactful community service and industry engagement activities, UMass harnesses the revolutionary spirit of Massachusetts to deliver an unparalleled student experience and serve as a national model of excellence.  

While serving separate overall purposes, the alignment of the organizations’ missions around teaching, research, and commitment to public service make Partners HealthCare, Mass General, Brigham Health and UMass Online well suited to collaborate in the design of this educational and career opportunity.  

About the Webinar

Key Spokespersons/Panelists

Mary Jane (MJ) Ryan

MJ Ryan is Senior Director of Workforce Development & Economic Opportunity at Mass General Brigham (MGB) and a key leader in delivering technical assistance to the 11 healthcare organizations participating in the CareerSTAT Healthcare Workforce Development Academy. As a Champion organization with a long history of investing in the skills and careers of their frontline employees, MGB is exceptional in its commitment to helping other organizations develop successful advancement programs. This blog series will feature conversations with the workforce professionals that have been critical in the development of this innovative Academy.

Secretary Rosalin Acosta

Rosalin Acosta is the Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In her role, Secretary Acosta manages the Commonwealth’s workforce development and labor departments to ensure that workers, employers, and the unemployed have the tools, training, and safety resources needed to succeed in the Massachusetts economy. Secretary Acosta also Chairs the Workforce Skills Cabinet alongside the Secretary of Education and the Secretary of Housing and Economic Development.

Matt Fishman

Matt Fishman, Vice President for Community Health at Mass. General Brigham (previously Partners HealthCare), has led organization-wide community health commitments since 1994. While the specifics of his work change from year to year based on changes in community needs and public policy, the underlying principles that guide his work are consistent. Matt has worked to improve the health of low-income and vulnerable people and communities through efforts focused on ensuring access to health care services and health insurance coverage, and initiatives that address the social determinants of health, including education, economic opportunity, and poverty. He does this work through extensive collaboration with policymakers, community health center-and hospital-based clinicians and leaders, and community and business leaders.

Erin Flanigan

Erin Flanigan serves as Vice President of Talent for Mass General Brigham, a not-for-profit integrated healthcare system, founded in 1994 by two world-class academic medical centers, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital. Partners (recently renamed Mass General Brigham) is the largest private employer in Massachusetts, with more than 78,000 employees and provides care to more than 1.5 million patients annually. In her role, Erin oversees talent acquisition, workforce development, and talent management for the two-founding academic medical centers, multiple community and specialty hospitals, a health insurance division, community health centers, home health and long-term care services, and other health care entities within the system.

Christine Abrams

Christine Abrams serves as the President and CEO of Commonwealth Corporation. She has more than thirty years of progressive financial and organizational leadership experience with Fortune 100 companies, startups and non-profit organizations. Christine’s success is attributed to a collaborative, insights-driven approach. Christine’s success in leading organizational change begins by first understanding the customers and organizational needs, then collaborating to develop solutions that will achieve the desired result. Her exceptional analytical, strategic and problem-solving skills provide practical solutions to the challenge’s nonprofits face.

Katherine Newman

Katherine Newman, Ph.D., is the Chancellor of Academic Programs for the University of Massachusetts system. She previously served as Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Torrey Little Professor of Sociology at UMass Amherst from 2014 to 2017 and as the James B. Knapp Dean of the Arts and Sciences at Johns Hopkins University from 2010 to 2014.