Clarkson MBA graduates say they have a new appreciation for the economic, legal and, even, political factors involved in healthcare decision-making. Graduates also say they are more adept at managing change. And, perhaps most important, they have honed the team-building, leadership and people skills that can enhance relationships with colleagues and patients and open doors to new opportunities.
John Huppertz, PhD, director of Clarkson’s MBAH program, says physicians enroll for a variety of reasons. Many have been asked to step up and serve on leadership committees or assume responsibility for administrative tasks, and want to do the best job possible. Others want to play a role in improving current healthcare systems or shaping those of the future.
“Our physician-students are pursuing an MBA for the same reason they went to medical school—they want to make a difference,” Dr. Huppertz says. “They realize that the same tools and skills needed for successful business management also are required to lead healthcare organizations.”
A more strategic view
Dr. Philip A. Heavner, MBA’17, who was the chief of pediatrics for the Bassett Healthcare Network in Cooperstown, New York, says the Healthcare MBA program has changed his perspective and had a positive impact on his department and the Bassett system.
Dr. Heavner had been overseeing pediatrics for the five-hospital network for a while and was frustrated by his lack of knowledge about the business side of healthcare. Then, he learned about Clarkson’s Healthcare MBA and the ability to take most of the courses online. He compares the before-and-after experience to that of a musician who spends years playing by ear and then learns to read music.
“So much of it is about knowing the language, having the vocabulary, and being able to communicate with administrators and nonclinical personnel,” Dr. Heavner says. Members of his department have mentioned that, in general, things run more smoothly. For one thing, there are fewer meetings, and those that do occur tend to be more efficient.
The most important change? “We have a better understanding of what it means to grow strategically,” Dr. Heavner says, “and why we have to couple our clinical and financial performance. Sustainability is everything, and our decision-making has to reflect that.”
Dr. Heavner became the System Chief of Pediatrics for Guthrie in early 2020. “There is no question in my mind that the MBA in Healthcare Management contributed greatly to being selected for this position,” he says.
Dr. Kimberly Peregrim, MBA’19, an internal medicine physician in Latham, New York, started thinking about earning an MBA soon after graduating from medical school. Twenty years later, she decided it was “now or never” and enrolled in Clarkson’s Healthcare MBA. Almost immediately, she began applying her MBA coursework in her medical practice and in her role as medical director overseeing Medicaid approval at the New York State Department of Health Office of Health Insurance Programs.
“I started to see things from a manager’s point of view and began interacting with patients and staff differently—motivating them and engaging them more,” she says.
Dr. Peregrim says she has a new grasp of finance and accounting, structural dynamics and different business models because of the Healthcare MBA. “I highly recommend the program,” she says. “It definitely gives you a better understanding of the environment of medicine, how business is supposed to run and the players involved. I wish I knew this 15 years ago.”
Although Dr. Peregrim has no plans to leave her practice, with the MBA in hand, she feels well-positioned for the future, regardless of what it holds
“As healthcare keeps changing, I want to be ready for opportunity,” she says. “The MBA is the key that can unlock that door.”