Doctor of Health Administration - Online

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Faculty for Doctor of Health Administration

Amber Arnold, DNP, RN

Dr. Arnold is a registered nurse with a clinical background in pediatrics and critical care. After 10 years at Batson Children's Hospital with varying roles from staff nurse to clinical director, she followed her passion for improving patient care on a system-wide level. After training at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s Patient Safety Executive Development Program, she assumed the role of patient safety officer at UMMC to facilitate change in unsafe behaviors affecting the culture of safety. After five years in Patient Safety, she transitioned to a part-time role working on various projects for the chief medical officer at UMMC. She now enjoys her role in the School of Health Related Professions helping to grow the next generation of health care leaders.

Arnold obtained a bachelor of science in nursing degree from UMMC in 1999. She graduated with a master of science in nursing in 2009 and doctor of nursing practice in 2013, both from UMMC. She is a certified critical care nurse alumnus and a TeamSTEPPS Master Trainer. She also serves as past president of the Nursing Alumni Board, past president of Madison Ridgeland Academy PATS Board, and program chair for UMMC Alliance.

Jessica H. Bailey, PhD, RHIA

Dr. Bailey earned the master of arts and doctor of philosophy in educational leadership and policy analysis from the University of Missouri-Columbia and her undergraduate degree from UMMC. She is a registered health information administrator (RHIA).

Prior to moving into academia, Bailey served six years as the director of health information at Doctors Hospital in Jackson. She then served as program director of a health information technology program at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas, and as director of a fellowship program for family medicine at the University of Missouri School of Medicine in Columbia, Missouri. She has served in several roles at UMMC, including director of medical dducation for the Department of Medicine and as director of education for the Office of Graduate Medicine Education; as assistant dean and associate dean for academic affairs at SHRP; and currently serves as the dean of the School of Health Related Professions.

Cindy Dishongh, MHS, RHIA

She earned the master of health science degree from Mississippi College and her undergraduate degree from UMMC. She is a registered health information administrator (RHIA).

Dishongh has over 30 years of health care experience and currently serves as the chief quality officer for Merit Health Rankin.She was previously CQO for Merit Health's Hospital Market, and had served as chief operating officer for Health Management Associates at River Oaks, Rankin and Woman's Hospitals, as well as chief executive officer for MH-Rankin. In addition, she has experience as the executive VP of business development for Hospitals and Ancillary Services.

Thomas Dobbs, MD

Dr. Dobbs is currently the State Health Officer for Mississippi. Dr. Dobbs is an epidemiologist and infectious diseases physician by training, with experience in public health, private practice, hospital administration and academics.

In addition to his role at the Department of Health, Dr. Dobbs is an associate professor at the UMMC School of Population Health, teaching courses in epidemiology and health policy, as well as serving as faculty in the DHA program. 

Elizabeth Franklin, PhD

Dr. Franklin earned the doctor of philosophy in higher education leadership and the master of education from the University of Mississippi. She earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Southern Mississippi.

Franklin worked as a language instructor at the secondary and community college levels for 22 years prior to coming to UMMC as an information technology solutions strategist. She has served as director of Continuing Education in the Health Professions at UMMC and presently is full-time faculty of the DHA program teaching a variety of courses and serving as admissions chair of the program.

Kenny Heard, JD

Kenneth M. Heard III presently serves as director of the Department of State Authorizations at UMMC and previously worked in public procurement at UMMC.  

Prior to UMMC, Heard practiced law as an associate attorney, then sole practitioner, appearing in both federal and state court systems throughout Mississippi. He earned a juris doctor from Mississippi College School of Law, and a bachelor of arts in biology from University of Mississippi. Heard regularly participates in academic regulatory related presentations involving state authorization, licensure and institutional disclosure requirements. Heard serves as faculty at the School of Health Related Professions in the Department of Health Sciences and the Doctor of Health Administration.

Rob McElhaney, PhD, CPA

Dr. McElhaney earned the doctor of philosophy in higher education administration, master of professional accountancy, and undergraduate degree from the University of Southern Mississippi. He is a certified public accountant.

McElhaney has served as the chief financial officer for the University of Southern Mississippi Foundation and currently serves as assistant comptroller and chief internal control officer at UMMC. 

Mitzi Norris, PhD, MT(ASCP), SM(NRCM)

Dr. Norris earned the doctor of philosophy in educational leadership from the University of Mississippi and the master of science in microbiology from the Mississippi University for Women. She also earned her undergraduate degree from MUW. She is a registered medical technologist and has specialist certification in microbiology.

Norris worked in labs for many years before changing to hospital education. She was the education director for the South Central VA Health Care Network that included 10 medical centers. At UMMC, Norris serves as the executive director of academic effectiveness for the campus      

Brian Rutledge, PhD

Dr. Rutledge earned the doctor of philosophy in clinical health sciences at the University of Mississippi. He earned his master of health services administration degree from Mississippi College as well as his undergraduate degree.

Rutledge has served as a health policy fellow to Sen. Thad Cochran. At UMMC, he has served as manager of Emergency Services (Emergency Medicine), manager of business operations (Medicine), and the director of accreditation and assessment (School of Medicine). He currently serves as chief of staff to the vice chancellor for health affairs.

W. Taylor Sisson, DHA, MBA

Dr. Sisson earned the doctor of health administration from UMMC, the master of business administration from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and the bachelor of science in commerce and business administration from the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa.

Since 2011, Dr. Sisson has functioned in various leadership roles with UMMC, working primarily in the ambulatory sector of health care administration. Overall, Dr. Sisson’s health care experiences include ambulatory operations, departmental/business administration, fundraising/development, information technology, and marketing/sales.

Juanyce Taylor, PhD

Dr. Taylor earned the doctor of philosophy in international development and the bachelor of science degree in psychology from the University of Southern Mississippi. She also earned the master of science in education from Jackson State University.

Dr. Taylor has been employed at the Medical Center since 2008 and has held several leadership positions. She co-leads several committees such as the Vice Chancellor’s Council on Diversity and Inclusion, the Institutional Climate Committee, and the Health Care Disparities Council. In her role, she facilitates the integration of diversity and inclusion throughout the Medical Center’s mission areas. She is an associate professor and serves as the chief diversity and inclusion officer for the institution.

Susan Taylor, PhD

Dr. Taylor earned the doctor of philosophy and master of science in economics from Louisiana State University. She earned bachelor of arts and bachelor of science degrees from Blue Mountain College.

Taylor has served at Millsaps since August of 1992, where she currently holds the Selby and Richard D. McRae Chair of Business Administration in the Else School of Management. Prior to coming to Millsaps, she taught at Kansas State University.

Lei Zhang, PhD, MBA

Dr. Zhang earned the doctor of philosophy and the master of science in preventive medicine from the University of Mississippi. He also earned his master of business administration from the University of Louisiana at Monroe and a bachelor of science from the Chengdu University of Technology in China.

Zhang is the director of Office of Health Data & Research at  Mississippi State Department of Health. He also holds an academic appointment as professor of biostatistics in the School of Nursing and School of Health Related Professions at UMMC. Currently he serves as chair of the Applied Public Health Statistics Section of American Public Health Association.