Making the Most of Your EMBA: The Executive Team Consulting Project – From Real Learning to Real Life

By: Sally Ourieff, MD
Lecturer and Faculty for the Executive Team Consulting Project

Program Director Dr. Jon Chilingerian aptly describes the Heller School’s Executive MBA (EMBA) for Physicians curriculum as teaching “at the nexus of medicine and management science.” As an EMBA for Physicians student, you learn a great deal about the science of management. In your Executive Team Consulting Project (ETCP), you learn the “art” of applying that new knowledge in the real world. In the process, you will face tough challenges and have to solve interesting problems. You will also discover, however, the best in yourself and your colleagues and have some fun along the way.

The goal of the ETCP is for each student to launch, lead, and work with a team of their colleagues to complete a change initiative that impacts an aspect of their own work in health care. This could be a problem that needs to be solved or an opportunity that can be leveraged. It can relate to anything from service delivery, organizational effectiveness, or quality, safety and performance metrics, to a clinical innovation, cost savings, patient education, or access to care. It can be any issue that you believe needs to be addressed and will make a difference for those with whom you work or serve.

One of the first challenges is choosing the right project. The project spans the entire 16 months of the program and culminates with a paper and poster presentation in the 4th and final semester. You will spend a lot of time on this so choose something you are genuinely interested in and care about. It should, however, also be important to your organization, leaders, and colleagues. It is hard to rally a team to implement an idea you love but no one else thinks is valuable! It should be ambitious but doable; require a team but not overburden them; enable you to grow as a leader but empower your team to lead as well; tie-in specific learning but push you to learn new things. In the end, the ETCP prepares you to return to your life post-MBA with a proven record of implementing a successful change initiative that made a difference. I will provide you with lots of support, as will the entire faculty. We are here to help you succeed. Most importantly, you will have each other as your most dedicated support network.

We have had very positive feedback on this project experience. Students have told us that it is one of the best aspects of the program, and they welcomed the opportunity to implement a major project in their own institution. They also appreciated hearing about all the work their classmates had been doing throughout the semester. According to one student, “I learned 35 different approaches to project management and leadership.” The ETCP brings to life all the facets of your learning. There is a lot to look forward to.

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