Rachel McClain on graduation day

When Rachel McClain was researching options to go back to school and found the online healthcare leadership program at the University of Louisville (UofL), she knew it was exactly what she needed. “It instantly made me smile,”she said. “It was perfect.” Indeed, it was a perfect match.

For Program Director Lee Bewley, the feeling was mutual. “Our first introduction to Rachel McClain was great,” he notes. “She had several years of experience working in the healthcare field and she had the time to focus on her own development.”

Rachel went to work in the healthcare industry after earning her associate’s degree. “I was making what I thought was decent money at the time and it didn’t require me to have a degree,” she says. But what she calls “extenuating circumstances” changed her perspective on everything.

Turning darkness into light

“I woke up one morning and it was really blurry,” Rachel explains. “I ended up losing feeling in my face and, ultimately, I had a stroke.” She was in recovery for six months afterwards and says the entire experience led her to think about her journey and the path she wanted to follow.

“It definitely changed how I thought about life,” she says. “That’s when I really took the turn and said no time like the present. It’s time to go back to school.”

Helping her shine

When Rachel compared schools, she says “UofL was top on the list.” She found the right fit with UofL’s online Bachelor of Science in Organizational Leadership & Learning with a focus on Healthcare Leadership —the university’s first Competency-Based Education (CBE) program.


The 100% online CBE program recognizes previous college credit hours and work experience, and Rachel had both. She could also customize her education and move at her own pace, as UofL’s CBE program gives students the ability to test out of courses for which they master certain competencies and progress through their degree based on knowledge they still need to acquire. “I was able to finish a course and then immediately start one up within 72 hours,” she notes.

Lee Bewley was impressed with Rachel’s skills and experience as she progressed through her program. “What we found as Rachel was going through the courses is that she had already developed a number of healthcare leadership and management competencies,” he says. “Our role was to provide her with the incremental development and one-on-one support necessary for successfully demonstrating those competencies and earning credits toward her degree.”

Rachel’s experience from the beginning and throughout the program was excellent. “From my success coach to financial aid, everyone that I spoke to it was incredible,”she shares. “They were motivating, they were supportive, and they were encouraging.”

Both the people at UofL and the design of the program helped her get her degree faster. “I was able to finish this online program in about ten months because it was tailored to me specifically,” she explains. “It provides so much flexibility that it’s kind of a no-brainer.”

A brighter future

Rachel’s story highlights her own unique circumstances, but many adult learners and professionals seeking a flexible path to finish their degree can relate to her story. The opportunity to customize your learning experience from start to finish, show what you know and get the credit you deserve is open to anyone with the right background.

Incoming students can transfer 36 hours or more of General Education credits from any regionally accredited institution. In addition, the Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) course allows you to obtain credit for professional knowledge and skills developed in your career. That can mean earning up to 48 credit hours tuition-free, which lets you save up to $23,856 over the course of the program.

The remaining 12 courses (36 hours) to complete the degree are offered in two formats:

  • Flex Pace gives students 32 weeks to move through the program, providing more flexibility and self-direction. The curriculum is based on the National Center for Healthcare Leadership’s (NCHL.org) competency model, which is one of the leading industry standard models for healthcare executive competencies development.
  • Set Pace is structured on 8-week traditional terms but still offers flexibility in the length of time it takes to complete the program. Students can finish their degree in as little as three intensive semesters or in as many as are needed.

No matter which option you choose, what’s important is taking the first step on your journey to a bachelor’s degree. Returning to school and reaching her goal has given Rachel a sense of accomplishment and purpose. “This program has definitely prepared me for the future, and it’s given me confidence to pursue things that I wouldn’t have pursued in the past,” Rachel says. “It’s given me a degree and that was what I really wanted. It’s an amazing feeling; I feel empowered and I feel confident.”

Follow Rachel’s lead. Customize your learning experience from start to finish, show what you know and get the credit you deserve. Let UofL Online bring campus and career advance to you with the online Bachelor of Science in Organizational Leadership and Learning – Healthcare Leadership program.Find out more and apply today!

University of Louisville Online Learning
The University of Louisville (UofL) is a nationally recognized research university located in Kentucky's largest metropolitan area. It was a municipally supported public institution for many decades prior to joining the university system in 1970. Currently, the university is funded by the state of Kentucky.Additionally, the University of Louisville offers online courses and degree programs in various areas of study for adult learners who are not able to come to a physical campus and want to earn a college degree or certificate and start or advance their career.