MPA student pursues healthcare career
Studying for the CPA exam while going to graduate school is no simple task. Add working as an accountant for a rapidly growing company on top of that, and it might seem downright impossible. But for Master of Professional Accountancy student Cody Nieman, it's a challenge worth pursuing.
Nieman has already graduated Summa Cum Laude from B&E once – he holds a bachelor's degree in accounting. The Bruceton Mills, W.Va., native never thought twice about pursuing his education at West Virginia University.
"WVU is in my blood," Nieman said. "My father and older sister earned degrees here, another sibling is a current student, and the youngest will be a freshman in the fall. There was never any doubt in my mind where I belonged."
However, his choice to pursue accounting wasn't as immediate.
"I started out as a political science major with the ultimate goal of having a career in healthcare administration. However, I quickly realized the opportunities with a political science degree were limited. The possibilities with a business degree seemed limitless, so I spoke with (academic advisor) Joe Seiaman and he said that accounting could give me the necessary skill set to be successful in my desired field."
So far, he has been so right. Nieman has been working at MedExpress, an urgent care company founded and headquartered in Morgantown, since the spring semester of his senior year when he joined the company as a finance intern.
"The internship helped me put all the pieces that I learned in the classroom together in a real world setting," he said. His internship turned into full time employment immediately after graduation as an accountant.
"I moved to Pittsburgh when (MedExpress) opened (its) administrative office there shortly after I came on full time, and I lived and worked there for a year," Nieman recalled. Thanks to a flexible and understanding employer, he decided to go back to school in order to obtain enough credit hours to take the CPA exam. Again, WVU was the natural choice.
"I learned so much and enjoyed the time in the undergraduate program (at B&E)," he said. "We have some really great professors who are passionate about what they teach. (MedExpress) let me take a different accounting position so I could come back to the Morgantown administrative office and go to school."
Nieman said his controller was extremely flexible and allowed him to work part-time while finishing the CPA exam. He received his final passing score at the beginning of January.
Although he's thankful to have the CPA behind him, things haven't really slowed down. Instead, the full-time graduate student's responsibilities have merely shifted as he continues to work full time as an accountant for MedExpress – a busy charge in and of itself. Throughout his two years at the company, there has been substantial growth.
"We currently have 130 urgent care clinics in nine states. We were in five states when I joined the company, and plan on being in 11 before this year's end," he said. "Working for a rapidly growing company has had its share of challenges and rewards. Countless late evenings have been spent in the office, but I've also had the satisfaction of helping to create automated processes and efficiencies and seeing the results of those efforts."
Nieman will be an officially licensed CPA in May 2014, and will graduate with his MPA in December 2014. He plans to continue his career in health care.
"The MPA program is going beyond accounting to put an emphasis on real-world cases," he said. "I want to use the data analysis, research and decision-making skills from the program to make bigger contributions than debits and credits and balance sheet reconciliations. I like working in healthcare because my work helps others."