Here’s how an MBA took this North Alabama man from nurse to hospital executive


una mba
Learn more about the versatility of an MBA. (UNA)

For Rhee Perry, North Alabama native and Chief Operating Officer (COO) at Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital in Somerset, Kentucky, a Master of Business Administration from the University of North Alabama was the key that opened the door to a brand new career path. 

Read on to find out how the former nurse became a COO with UNA’s help. 

From scrubs to the C-suite

Rhee started his career as a surgical technologist, also called a “scrub tech,” in 2007. He then got his associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in nursing, while working full-time, eventually working his way into a position as a surgical director. 

As surgical director, Rhee was responsible for big-picture operations like purchasing equipment, managing finances and writing proposals for important tech like surgical robots. 

That’s where he got his first taste of operations management, and when he started seriously considering the steps he’d need to take to grow in his career.

“I knew that in order for me to be successful and to do the things I wanted to do, that I needed to obtain a master’s degree.”

Rhee Perry, UNA MBA alum

Rhee’s original plan was to work his way into a Chief Nursing Officer position. However, after a conversation with one of his leaders, he realized that the MBA track with the goal of attaining a CEO position was a better fit for him. 

Choosing UNA

una mba
With online and in-person options available, you should consider UNA. (UNA)

A North Alabama native, Rhee was familiar with UNA. He also had experience with attending school while working full-time, which made his decision to attend UNA for his MBA with a healthcare administration concentration an easy one. 

Rhee attended UNA from 2018-2020, with his final semester taking place amid the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unbeknownst to him, his coursework at UNA was preparing him for the challenges he’d face at work even before graduation, like the complex tasks of organizing projects over Zoom and managing a hospital quickly becoming overwhelmed with sick patients. 

“That was very challenging, but at the same time it helped me during COVID with a lot of real work scenarios. I think taking that aspect of the program and being able to apply it in a real life setting just goes to show how they prepare you for work in the real world.” 

Rhee Perry, UNA MBA alum

Nuts + bolts

una mba
What opportunities await you? (UNA)

Rhee’s advice to anyone considering following in his footsteps? “You’ve just got to tell yourself, ‘I can do this.’ No one’s stopping you but yourself.” 

Here’s what you need to know about the program: 

  • Affordable: At $19,550, UNA’s MBA program costs less than one third of the average program, and each newly enrolled student in the MBA program receives their first course FREE with the New Start Scholarship. Other scholarships are available for active duty or retired military, corporate partner employees + UNA alumni.
  • Flexible: The program is 100% online with 5 starts per year. No GMAT required—you just need a bachelor’s degree with a minimum 2.5 GPA.
  • Reputable: UNA is AACSB accredited.
  • Apply now to get started in January and get your first course for free! 

Ready to take the next step in your career? Join the next cohort of UNAs MBA now.

Sponsored by:

North Alabama - Sanders College of Business and Technology
Emily Phillips
Emily Phillips
Articles: 245