- by Mount Saint Mary College

Mount Saint Mary College graduate students recently applied their classroom knowledge to real-world case-studies for Cross Valley Health & Medicine, P.C. in Newburgh, N.Y.  

About a dozen students of Business Instructor Peter Gregory’s capstone course, Research Seminar in Planning and Implementation of Business Policy, spent eight weeks researching the laws surrounding medical marijuana and the feasibility of going into this business in four states: New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Florida. Cross Valley Health & Medicine, which currently has two providers licensed to practice in New York, is planning on venturing into one of these states a primary care practice via telemedicine. 

The students investigated the market and politics of medical marijuana and the legal barriers to entering their assigned state. Each team created and delivered a 20 to 30 minute presentation and submitted a document of their findings. 

 Gregory said the experience was an informative one for students: “This project with the medical industry centered on a contemporary issue with laws drastically changing, even while in the midst of this very applied project,” he said.  

Helping Gregory to oversee the project were Cross Valley Health & Medicine employees and Mount graduatesMark Olsen ’20, MBA ‘21, Business Development Associate; Kyle Russo ’17, MBA ‘18, Practice Manager; and Christian Plaza ’14, MSN ‘18, MBA’18, Clinical Director. In 2018, Plaza was the only Mount student to earn two master’s degrees simultaneously, in between working full time at Cross Valley Health & Medicine, which he founded in 2007 with his husband, Dr. Paul Saladino. 

 Russo said he was happy to help the next generation of Business students at this alma mater. “As an alumnus…I can appreciate the need to have real-world experience before beginning a career path,” said Russo. “I am ecstatic that my current employer, Cross Valley Health & Medicine, PC has been able to forge this connection with the Mount to provide experience into this gigantic and ever-evolving field.” 

The project “gave the students a powerful lesson on researching a topic given by management, and how to pitch it from a consultant’s point of view,” said Olsen.

 Plaza noted that the capstone project give the students valuable real-world experience with an established local business. 

Medical marijuana is a “health care sector that is rapidly growing, yet there is little knowledge among business graduates on how this industry thrives in the current economic times,” Plaza explained. “Students not only had to apply all what they have learned through their graduate business studies, but also had to understand governance, policy, and laws that allow or restrict from businesses such as medical practices to venture in this industry.” 

Ken Parker of Newburgh, N.Y., a student in Gregory’s capstone course, said that the experience tapped into the skills Mount students learn over the course of their MBA education.

 “The project was open-ended enough…to interpret a solution in the way that you felt would be most helpful for Cross Valley, but defined enough to provide structure to the assignment,” said Parker. To effectively complete the project, students had to rely on “financial, marketing, writing, information systems, public speaking, and other dimensions to the project which aligned with the MBA curriculum.” 

He added, “There are repercussions to the decisions business leaders make, and I think the practical application of the work in the class showed students that.”

It was a challenge the students met with enthusiasm, Plaza said: “The graduate students have done well and learned entrepreneurship requires skillful planning, knowledge, educated risk and timing.”

 Thanks to the help of the MBA students, Cross Valley Health & Medicine has decided to expand their medical practice into Connecticut.

 “The graduate students have presented a comprehensive business summary including legal, political, and policy implications in offering medical cannabis certifications in that state,” Plaza said. “We appreciate what all the students have worked on this semester and look forward to further collaborating with Mount Saint Mary College in these real-world business projects.”

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