Graduate student Judith Buckland is already applying lessons learned in the virtual classroom of her master’s degree in leadership program at Palm Beach Atlantic University in the real world.

Buckland took a class assignment and parlayed it into a new online continuing medical education platform called Cardiology CME, which launched recently at CardioServ,  a 10-year-old healthcare consulting and software firm she founded in Wellington.

“For years I had wanted to launch an online education platform for physicians but setting this as an assignment forced me to sit down and crunch the numbers and do the research,” said Buckland, a MacArthur School of Leadership online student.

Buckland recalled a budget and planning class assignment from Associate Professor of Leadership Thomas Miller involving creating a strategic plan and SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunities and threats) analysis, as being the catalyst to fulfilling this long-time company goal.

“I followed through on the plan and it went live a few weeks ago,” Buckland said. “I was able to transform something that was lingering in my head into reality.”

She thanked Professor Miller for the assignment and his guidance throughout that class.

“It personally warms my heart that students use their learning to make a difference,” said Miller in learning of Buckland’s practical results. “While I mostly seek to simply give adult students an awareness and brief taste of what strategic planning entails, some students have used the course assignment as an opportunity to undertake preliminary work on an actual workplace project, and this is another excellent example.”

Last month Buckland through her work at CardioServ was honored with a 2018 Heroes in Medicine Award in the professional category by the nonprofit Palm Beach County Medical Society.

“[Buckland] is dedicated to educating and inspiring excellence within the imaging field…by utilizing her knowledge and wisdom to motivate others to grow and develop within their own field,” the Society said in presenting the award. “She and her company are a key educational resource for all healthcare clinicians.”

In the weeks following Cardiology CME’s launch, the customer response has been “great, brilliant,” Buckland said.

And if you ask Buckland, she’d say that pretty much sums up her PBA experience to date even though she’s still months away from the finish line.

“It’s been the most enjoyable, spiritual, educational and professional journey,” Buckland said. “Every single class has had so much significance in my life.”

She recalled other impactful and profound moments during a course taught by Dr. Jim Laub, professor of Leadership Studies, when she was reading the book “Lead like Jesus” by Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges, which talks about servant leadership.

“I had never been introduced to the concept of servant leadership before,” said Buckland, who read parts of the book while on a train in India during an educational outreach mission trip to Mumbai. “It shifted my thinking as a leader and business owner.”

She also raved about the faith-based principles learned in her budget classes and the holistic approach overall of the courses taken.

For someone who doesn’t self-identify as Christian, “it’s kind of funny” that she ended up at a faith-based university, Buckland said. And the rewards of the journey have been equally unexpected.

“It’s been transformative so far and it’s not over yet,” she noted. “I feel so blessed to have this opportunity to grow academically, professionally and spiritually.”

She had considered another university in Boca Raton before choosing PBA, which she said offered a smaller and most personable setting where she wouldn’t feel like she’d be “just a number.”

Buckland has enjoyed her PBA journey so much that she’s pushed the pause button on her original plans to “bang out” the master’s degree in an accelerated one-year program, and has taken the summer off.

“It’s making me reconsider trying to do this in a short time frame,” Buckland said.