Dr. Jeff Brizzolara is a chief clinical officer at Viverae. His experience in completing three master’s degree programs makes him an expert in the field of navigating higher education. In addition to his master’s degrees, Dr. Brizzolara holds a doctorate in health education from Texas A&M University.

(Photo Courtesy of Dr. Jeff Brizzolara)

(Photo Courtesy of Dr. Jeff Brizzolara)

Why did you pursue a master’s degree?

“I have three master’s degrees – health promotion and exercise/physiology, occupational health and an M.B.A. With my first degree, I had an internship during my undergrad and I wanted to dig deeper into the subject matter. I was able to get a taste during my internship, but I wanted to learn more. For my second degree, I wanted to learn more about the public side to health, which meant learning about policy and epidemiology. I had no formal training, so I needed to expand my knowledge. For my third degree, I wanted to move up in healthcare, which involved the management side. Again, I had no formal training so I needed more education to advance my career. For all three degrees, they served a purpose and that purpose was to gain deeper experience and excel in the fields that I was working in.”

What would you tell someone who is considering returning to school to earn a master’s degree?

“Many people believe that pursuing advanced degrees will help them discover their passions and interests. But I believe that it should be the other way around – you should pursue a master’s degree if you want to fine-tune your experience in the field of study you’re in. It’s best to be in the field you want to be in and know that you want to move up in that field, rather than jump in education and use your degree to supplement a way to find work in that field.”

What was the biggest challenge you faced when pursuing your master’s degrees?

“Each one was different. The greatest challenge with the first degree was getting accepted into school. Health and wellness in the late 80’s was a hot topic so the application process was very competitive. The challenge with the second and third degrees was all about balance. The second was balancing work and school, and the third was balancing work, school and a family.”

What was the biggest reward for earning the master’s degrees?

“Without my degrees, it would have been impossible for me to advance at a rapid rate. It made me qualified to advance. It gave me confidence that I could sit at the table with other experts and be equipped with the knowledge that I needed.”

Robin D. Everson is a native Chicagoan who resides in Dallas, Texas. Her appreciation for art, food, wine, people and places has helped her become a well-respected journalist. A life-long lover of education, Robin seeks to learn and enlighten others about culture. You can find her work at Examiner.com