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Daniel Surber Gets Much More Than Expected Out of Online MBA Program

UNCP MBA Business Analytics graduate Daniel Surber

Healthcare veteran Daniel Surber found himself stuck regarding the future of his career as a rehabilitation director.

“That [position] afforded me an opportunity to get into middle management roles and make a better income,” Surber said. “But I found myself trapped because that’s as far as I could go.”

A desire to expand the scope of his career led Surber to enroll in the online Business Analytics Master of Business Administration (MBA) program at The University of North Carolina Pembroke (UNCP). He graduated with a 4.0 GPA in December 2021.

“I was leaning toward the healthcare administration concentration, but I wanted to diversify,” he said. “Business analytics looked interesting to me. I wanted to branch out and try something new. It was a little bit of a leap of faith, but I am glad that I did it.”

Surber’s plan appears to be falling into place. The Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina, resident expects to launch a new role as the executive director of a pediatric practice in June 2022. The owner of the practice happened to be earning his MBA from UNCP at the same time as Surber and reached out to him about the opportunity. While he waits to take on the new role, he intends to stay busy.

“I am going to float around and help different nursing facilities,” he said.

The flexibility of the online format was key for Surber. He was the rehabilitation director of Liberty Healthcare and Rehabilitation Services during his 24 months in the program.

“It was the only way that I could do it,” he said. “My bachelor’s degree was online, too. It wasn’t a foreign thing for me. I wasn’t disappointed about anything with the online set-up.”

The Sweet Spot

Surber, 41, is from Bristol, Virginia, where the state borders Tennessee. He was a baseball player throughout his younger years and played in a touring band after high school.

“I was 24 years old when I started my associate degree,” he said. “I’ve always been a non-traditional student. By the time I got to community college, I was already married.

“I was injured doing factory work. I tried to go back, but it was traumatic. My wife, Katie, encouraged me to go back to school instead.”

After graduating with an associate degree in physical therapy from Stark State College in 2008, Surber added a bachelor’s degree in healthcare management from Franklin University four years later.

“I knew a little bit about anatomy from pitching, so I thought healthcare was interesting,” he said. “When I did volunteer hours, I had a great passion for the nursing home because I grew up with my grandparents. I understand that culture.”

Surber spent the majority of his healthcare career in the nursing home setting, so his desire for change was two-fold. He enrolled in UNCP’s program because it checked all the boxes, with fewer barriers to entry.

“I didn’t have to take the GMAT,” he said. “That in and of itself was the equivalent of a class or two. Plus, the price and the reputation of UNCP were both good. I didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything.”

With four children between ages eight and 14 at home, Surber had to do plenty of planning to make room for schoolwork without sacrificing much time with his family.

“I stayed a week ahead all of the time,” he said. “My goal every Saturday morning was to be working on what would be due the following Sunday, rather than the next day.”

Brave New Worlds

A job lead wasn’t the only benefit of the online Business Analytics MBA program for Surber. He is also working toward publishing a paper on patient recovery and readmittance that he wrote with UNCP professor Dr. Bishwa Koirala, his instructor for the Data Analytics for Business course.

“I combined my career in healthcare and what I’ve been doing for the last 14 years, which is getting people in the Medicare population through short-term rehab programs, and trying to get them home,” he said.

He credits the Data Analytics for Business course with helping him correlate his findings on patient readmission with rehab success, in the context of Medicare regulations.

Surber enjoys fishing and playing guitar in his free time. He is glad that he met the challenge of covering new educational territory while earning an advanced degree.

He is eager to put what he learned into practice and take on a new career challenge with the formal education to complement his real-world experience.

“I got good value out of the MBA program,” he said. “It was difficult, but I set out to break through a barrier.

“I knew I could go further. I knew I had a lot to offer. Having a master’s degree and working on a paper a professor thought was good enough to publish makes me more marketable.”

Learn more about The University of North Carolina Pembroke’s online Business Analytics MBA program.

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