Students speaking to one another in the classroomOn a daily basis, Brandeis EMBA physicians take the theoretical learning from the classroom and apply it to their clinical and administrative responsibilities. One specific course that offers these practical lessons is the Physicians Field Experience (PFE) – a 3 credit course spread over 3 semesters in which physicians have direct access to guest lecturers about current events, on the ground leadership experiences, and career related topics. This masterclass examines concrete issues students may be facing and brings experts beyond the program faculty into the classroom.

Past PFE presenters have included:

  • A headhunter at a major firm who specializes in recruiting physicians.
  • A state-level CDC director who spoke about his state’s pandemic response.
  • A former hospital CEO who turned around a hospital’s culture and brought the hospital out of significant financial difficulty.
  • An expert in negotiations and women in medicine.
  • A Heller School Associate Dean focused on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion who led a discussion about implicit bias in medicine.
  • A community leader focused on youth violence in Boston who spoke about how to move racial justice conversations forward in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.
  • An Emmy nominated media expert who gave advice for doctors handling the media during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • A physician who introduced a dashboard at a New York academic medical center that increased accountability between physicians.

Angie Kloepfer-Shapiro, MD, MBA’21 partnered with PFE Professor Jon Chilingerian in working with one speaker prior to their session, helping to hone the scope of their presentation to be particularly relevant to the interests of the cohort. Dr. Kloepfer-Shapiro thinks the class “has been an incredible opportunity to interact directly with clinician and non-clinician experts from a variety of industries. PFE has helped me to refine my own approach to management and has opened my eyes to the varied roles available to physicians in leadership.”

Lori Berkowitz, MD, MBA’21 has also found the class to be particularly useful. “It’s been surprising to me how helpful the Physician Field Experience has been and how much I look forward to those classes in particular. Hearing the way in which leaders have approached challenges, as well as their careers in general, is a highlight of the MBA experience.”

The PFE is also a chance for students and alumni share their own exceptional experiences. Richard Bold, MD, MBA’20 presented to his class about leadership in times of acute crisis. He discussed his experience during California’s wildfires when he worked in a regional hospital that had to be rapidly evacuated and was subsequently destroyed. This was based on his role working with the hospital as Medical Director of Cancer Network Operations and Physician-In-Chief of the Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Dr. Bold shares, “The Physician Field Experience gave me the opportunity to critically analyze how healthcare leaders make decisions in times of uncertainty, seeking information and input but remaining resolute having made difficult decisions. It allowed an evaluation of leadership styles and effectiveness of teams, decision-making under pressure and optimal interpersonal communication. It was a great opportunity to see how all the classroom lessons can be successfully applied in the real world through competent and effective leadership and provided the framework to which I aspire.”

The Executive MBA for Physicians program seeks to train physicians in the new science of medicine and management. The PFE brings those concepts to life by exposing student to professionals who navigate the intersection of those discipline.