The Charger Blog

‘I Couldn’t Have Imagined a Better Graduate School Experience’

Pursuing my Master of Healthcare Administration degree has enabled me to experience working at Yale New Haven Hospital with my classmates while learning from them. I am excited to continue to pursue exciting new opportunities in healthcare after earning my degree.

April 15, 2021

By Michael LaLonde ’21 MHA

Michael Lalonda in the operating room
Michael LaLonde ’21 MHA has worked in cardiac surgery at Yale since his graduation.

I couldn’t have imagined a better graduate school experience than the one I had at the University of New Haven. The Yale New Haven Hospital Cohort program is unique in that it allowed us to be grouped with other working professionals, at the same institution, and from all different walks of life. We were able to share and use all of our experiences to help us through course discussions and assignments, making class conversations very interesting.

All of our professors were outstanding at delivering material that was relevant, current, and beneficial to our careers and future endeavors. They have also made themselves available to us as resources in the future. The University offered courses that are pertinent to the work we will be performing in our area of study. For these reasons, I feel well prepared for continued success.

Michael LaLonde's headshot
Michael LaLonde ’21 MHA.

I have been a physician assistant (PA) since 2006, and I have worked in cardiac surgery at Yale since my graduation. My clinical role is participating in cardiac surgery procedures in the operating room. I assist on all cases, from coronary artery bypass surgeries to heart transplants.

My group of Advanced Practice Providers (APPs) and I have the unique skill of being the only providers who can perform endoscopic vessel harvesting. This is a procedure that allows us to harvest the greater saphenous vein from the leg or radial artery from the forearm for coronary bypass grafting. Both vessels are removed through a very small incision in either the leg for vein or wrist for radial artery.

‘Take every opportunity’

I hold two administrative roles as lead physician assistant for cardiac surgery and coordinator of the robotic mitral valve program. As lead physician assistant, I oversee a group of surgical APPs and daily operations. In my role as coordinator, I help with the program development, along with our chief of cardiac surgery, Dr. Arnar Geirsson. I participate in all of the procedures and maintain oversight of the program, including staffing, logistics, marketing, quality, and improvement.

LaLonde, wearing scrubs, standing in front of medical machinery.
Michael LaLonde ’21 MHA has been a physician assistant since 2006.

In 2019, I was appointed to assistant clinical professor at the Yale School of Medicine, Department of Surgery (Cardiac), following my many years teaching PA and medical students. In addition to training students, I sit on multiple committees, and I have published in peer reviewed journals. All of these roles are incredibly rewarding. I am truly honored to be able to participate in the saving and improving of patients' lives.

My group of APPs is made up of excellent clinicians who I have had the pleasure of training from the time they graduated from school to become a PA or APRN (advanced practice registered nurse). It's a privilege to be able to watch them grow over the years. I consider them to be family, and I am incredibly fortunate to have such a great group. Being able to instill my knowledge and provide mentorship to our next generation of medical professionals is the ultimate way to give back. I did not get to this position alone, and I am grateful to the many educators who helped me get to where I am today.

Following my graduation from the University of New Haven, I hope to put my newly acquired skills to work. They have already proved very useful in my current roles. This program has provided insight into the opportunities that are available. I have really taken to project management, business development, and strategy/innovation, and I hope to create or work in a role that focuses on these areas.

I know that I will always maintain a role as a clinician, and I believe this is an incredibly valuable skillset and experience to have in healthcare administration. It is important to be able to bring this perspective to leadership and to those who may never have cared for a patient or worked in the roles you are directing. It also brings validity to your role and respect from those you manage. They know and see you are in the trenches with them.

Michael LaLonde ’21 MHA is a candidate in the University of New Haven’s Master of Healthcare Administration program, and he will accept his degree as part of the University’s Spring Commencement next month.