Executive MBA for Physicians Blog

Educating physician leaders in the new science of medicine and management

Category: Getting to Know the EMBA

The Physicians Field Experience: Practical Expertise in the Classroom

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.

Class of 2020: Wrapping up the EMBA for Physicians Program

Zoom meeting with students, friends, and family in small squaresThis May, the Class of 2020 finished their courses and degree requirements for the Executive MBA for Physicians program. The graduating physician-leaders presented their Executive Team Consulting Project, reflected on their leadership skill development with their executive coaches, and gathered with family for a virtual graduation party. The final 10 day residency which concludes the program provides physicians time to share what they have learned and how they have applied it, gain perspective on their growth, and celebrate their achievements.

The Executive Team Consulting Project is a 16-month capstone project where EMBA students lead a team of colleagues in their organizations in addressing a significant management issue. Typically students participate in a live poster session. Although the posters were presented virtually this year, students still shared their learning and successes with their colleagues. They used training in giving concise presentations from media expert Mike Nikitas and guidelines on creating clear, effective posters from ETCP professor Dr. Sally Ourieff. Students presented on numerous types of management and business challenges within healthcare, such as the role medical scribes can play in reducing physician burnout, ways to decrease the likelihood of readmission after heart failure, and strategies to reduce wait times between referrals at a spine center.

Participants also met with their executive coaches and their learning groups to participate in a final 360 degree leadership coaching session. With the help of the executive and peer coaches, students reflected on feedback gathered from colleagues for the second time in the 16 month program. The students also gave each other feedback and analyzed the goals they set at the beginning of the program while developing further goals for the future.

After their final intensive classes and presentations, the students gathered together with faculty, family, and friends to celebrate their graduation. They heard from graduation guest speaker Daniel Dawes, JD about health equity and the social and political determinants of health. Graduates Dr. Samaan Rafeq, a pulmonologist in New York City, and Dr. Shaneeta Johnson, a bariatric surgeon in Atlanta then gave inspiring speeches about their transformative experience within the program including the lifelong network of colleagues and friends they developed with each other. The students then toasted with champagne and moved their graduation cap tassels from the right to the left.

The Executive MBA for Physicians program is proud of everything the Class of 2020 has accomplished so far and is excited to see what they do in the future. Congratulations graduates!

Putting the Degree into Action: EMBA for Physicians Students present their Executive Team Consulting Projects

Earlier this month the EMBA Class of 2019 participated in the Executive Team Consulting Project (ETCP) interactive poster session. This session was the culmination of the 16-month capstone project where EMBA students led a team of colleagues in their organizations in addressing a significant management issue. All 41 students presented their posters in a series of rotations throughout the morning. ETCP Professor Dr. Sally Ourieff, and EMBA Program Director Dr. Jon Chilingerian joined the students in circulating to all of the posters and learning about each others’ projects. It was a great opportunity for the physicians to support their fellow classmates and gather ideas to address their own organizational challenges in the future.

The ETCP curriculum is designed to be a practical application of the learning physicians do throughout the course of the program. EMBA physicians are able to take their new understanding of the science of medicine and management to their own organizations. Many have seen a significant result from their project be it negotiating successfully with stakeholders, reaching consensus on tough decisions, or achieving notable improvement in various metrics (including quality and performance measures, operations, and the bottom line).

One physician analyzed and implemented the closing of a major service line to strengthen and focus his hospital’s service delivery and financial health. His region has multiple hospitals but still lacked beds. The line he chose to close was offered at other locations regionally and had low utilization (42% occupancy rate), thus freeing up beds for other high-need areas (an average of 10 people were held waiting for beds daily in another part of the hospital). In the first quarter after project implementation, there has been a revenue increase of 18%. The hospital is still waiting to complete the implementation, and they expect this percentage to increase even further at that time.

Another physician instituted a new financially beneficial imaging service line at his organization. This new line resulted in high patient satisfaction and financial benefit. It also improved employee morale due to a breakdown in silos between two departments and other byproducts of the project, such as improved scheduling.

Multiple physicians addressed various aspects of the opioid epidemic resulting in significant changes in prescribing patterns and access to care. One physician created a Pain Management Committee at a safety net institution, which resulted in a total decrease in narcotic utilization of 20% during a narcotic shortage. After the shortage was over, there was some recidivism, but decreases have continued. Another physician implemented a multifaceted response to reduce the overprescription of opioids in her medical center. As a result, prescriptions in the emergency department decreased by 20%.

Throughout the past 16 months, 41 organizations were touched by the students’ learning. Projects ranged from new entrepreneurial ventures to new service lines, to closed service lines. They have garnered significant organizational support, including one $300,000 grant for implementation. We are excited to see how these projects continue to evolve and what doors they are able to open for these physicians, their organizations, and their patients.

The EMBA for Physicians’ Curriculum: Learning more about the courses

Below are brief descriptions of the classes in our curriculum, designed for you to scan and read summaries of the classes you are curious about. For more in depth information about specific classes, please refer to the professor interviews in our blog series, or reach out to our team at hellerpemba@brandeis.edu.

Clinical and Managerial Uncertainty, Data, and Judgment – Studies how people make decisions. When people make decisions, they draw on data, models (mental or formal), and goals that are shaped by their own experiences and the contexts in which they are immersed. Decision making often suffers when situations include uncertainty, dynamically complex problems, high stakes, and time and performance pressures. We will look for connections between how people make decisions and the organizational outcomes we experience. The course introduces the tools of systems thinking for modeling and analyzing organizational policy and strategy.

Conflict Resolution by Negotiation – Develops in students an understanding of the nature, advantages, and limitations of negotiations as a conflict resolution tool. Provides a normative and practical framework for pursuing a negotiation strategy as a method of resolving disputes. Provides students with opportunities to apply this knowledge in a variety of simulated negotiation contexts. Finally, exposes students to feedback regarding their negotiation approaches.

Corporate Finance I and II – Analyzes the major issues affecting the financial policy of a modern corporation and develops greater depth of financial skills and logical thought processes necessary to formulate and implement business decisions. Reviews foundational theoretical concepts before going on to discuss real-life cases dealing with major issues, such as firm valuation, capital structure and security issuances, payout policies, and corporate restructuring. These issues are central to the investment, financing, and strategic policy decisions facing financial managers.

Economic Analysis for Physicians as Managers – Introduces tools of economics that can be used for managerial decision making in the health sector. A framework based on optimization of objectives will enable us to organize information concerning input costs, the market for output, and technology. We will consider the economics of supply and production, consumer demand, and market power and examine health policy initiatives that attempt to change managerial and consumer incentives to change market outcomes.

Executive Team Consulting Project – For an in depth description of this class, see our previous blog: Making the Most of Your EMBA: The Executive Team Consulting Project – From Real Learning to Real Life

Financial Accounting – Develops a fundamental understanding of financial accounting and reporting issues as they apply to nonprofit and for-profit organizations. Students will acquire skills enabling them to read and analyze the statement of earnings, balance sheet and statement of cash flows. Accounting practices that are unique to nonprofits will be introduced, discussed and differentiated from those practices employed by for profit enterprises. Students will examine financial statements from organizations such as hospitals, large and small non-profits, retailers and manufacturers. The course emphasizes how accounting information, in a variety of organizational settings, can be utilized by decision makers.

Health Care Entrepreneurship – Enables students to master the fundamentals of entrepreneurship. It explores how entrepreneurship has become a driving force in the healthcare sector, provides tools for developing and evaluating new ventures, and explores the blurring line between for profit and non-profit social initiatives. The course is designed to provide an intellectual and practical framework for students interested in exercising their entrepreneurial energy to solve problems in healthcare and explores the process of launching a new venture, particularly in the healthcare sector.

Healthcare Technology and Information – Discusses the role of science and technology in healthcare settings. Through case studies of technology companies (pharmaceutical, biotech, medical device, and information technology), the class examines how firms manage the creation, development, adoption, and spread of medical innovations in the context of a cost-constrained marketplace. The class uses current academic literature and newspaper articles to discuss how hospitals, insurers, and federal agencies can affect technological progress.

Health Law and Ethics – Introduces students to patient care and liability issues within the context of the U.S. healthcare delivery system. The course will cover legal and ethical aspects of: 1.) the provider/patient relationship and liability; 2.) healthcare quality, cost, and access; 3.) relationships between physicians and organizations; 4.) insurance, healthcare delivery systems, regulation, and the Affordable Care Act.

Leadership and Organizational Behavior – Focuses on leadership and managing organizations. Uses cases on a variety of organizations to expose students to problems and to improve their effectiveness in analyzing, diagnosing, and leading people in organizations. Students learn organizational concepts, analytic frameworks, and models, and practice their leadership skills in class. Uses case discussions, simulations, role-playing, mini-lecturing, and experimental exercises.

Leadership Coaching – For an in depth description of this class, see our previous blog: Making the most of your EMBA: Leadership Coaching

Management of Healthcare Organizations – Introduces students to the concepts, theories, and practical problems of managing people in healthcare organizations. Case material is drawn from hospital, HMO, group practice, public health agency, and for-profit company settings. Students gain a better understanding of the range of strategic and operational problems faced by managers, some of the analytic tools to diagnose problems, and the role of leadership (and management) in improving performance.

Managerial Accounting – Provides general introduction to the concepts, problems, and issues related to managerial accounting. Managerial accounting predominantly addresses the internal use of economic information regarding the resources used in the process of producing goods and providing services. Fundamental aspects of cost behavior and cost accounting will be discussed, but always from the perspective of the manager who must make decisions rather than the accountant who prepares the information.

Marketing – Provides students with an in-depth understanding of the key concepts of marketing and applying them to product and service applications as well as to for-profit and not-for-profit organizations and companies in the health sector. This course is also designed to provide an opportunity for participants collectively to analyze and solve complex marketing problems and to explore, through the study of the marketing of health-related services, the interrelationship between marketing, operations, human resources, information systems, and finance.

National Health Policy – An overview of the U.S. healthcare system is followed by a critical analysis of the major issues and trends in the healthcare field. Concentrates on the activities of federal and state governments and the private sector. Also explores likely future issues affecting our health system. Of special concern is the issue of the large number of Americans with no or inadequate health insurance. A related problem is the rising cost of medical care, which results in increases in the number of uninsured.

Operations Management – Addresses healthcare operations, which is the management of interconnected processes or systems which facilitate diagnosis, treatment, payment, physician education, and administrative tasks. Uses concepts and tools from management science, decision support, and the science of systems as well as the organization’s strategy to determine the most efficient and optimal methods to support patient care delivery. The course covers several main topics: process analysis, process improvement (which includes patient safety), inventory management, and linear programming.

Quality and Performance Measurement in Health Care – A conceptual and analytic framework of the field of quality of healthcare, which includes quality improvement and performance measurement; understanding of the contemporary research and policy initiatives that relate to quality of healthcare; and insights into the ways that quality relates to issues of provider payment, organization of healthcare facilities, and costs of and access to healthcare. By the end, students should have an understanding of the centrality of quality of care issues in contemporary health services research, healthcare policy, and management of healthcare organizations.

Relational Coordination Masterclass – Students will learn about relational coordination—and its impact on quality, safety, efficiency, employee well-being, learning, and innovation. Students will learn how to analyze work processes that pose a coordination challenge, mapping out the current state of relational coordination, and assessing areas of strength and areas in need of improvement. Students will learn how to diagnose these structures that weaken or strengthen relational coordination. Moving from analysis to action, students engage with key stakeholders regarding a coordination challenge in their organization.

State Health Policy – Examines the role of states in the U.S. healthcare system. Provides an overview of state activities in health, including state responsibilities for managing health programs and institutions. Outlines and explores the policy and legislative processes. States’ efforts to reform their healthcare systems are discussed with special attention to implementation issues, barriers, limits of state action, and prospects for the future of state health reform.

Strategic Management – In an increasingly complex and dynamic healthcare environment, physician leaders are constantly called upon to both set strategies for their organizations and ensure effective implementation. This course covers the fundamentals of both strategy development and strategy execution as it applies to healthcare organizations. Using cases from a variety of sectors, we will explore core strategy frameworks and then examine the requirements for effective implementation.

The Heller Difference: Why physicians choose a Brandeis education

Heller combines extensive experience providing executive education to physicians, a faculty composed of leading healthcare scholars and practitioners, and on-campus research institutes that continually advance the knowledge, best practices, and future thinking within the field. With Heller recently ranked for the first time among schools of health policy and management, at number eleven, the Executive MBA for Physicians provides MDs, DOs, DMDs and DDSs a healthcare management education with curriculum and classroom engagement refined by experts.

Experience

The Heller School has been on the forefront of educating future and practicing physicians since 1995. During that time, we have gained extensive experience delivering programs that help physicians improve the quality, efficiency, and accessibility of healthcare. Our MD/MBA program in partnership with Tufts University School of Medicine and our executive education offerings for practicing physicians give our Executive MBA a strong foundation.

Heller’s longstanding dual MD/MBA with Tufts University School of Medicine has a curriculum built off of its traditional MBA program but positioned specifically for the context of healthcare. In just 4 years, future physician leaders train not only to be outstanding clinicians, but also to succeed in critical areas of management and leadership that lead to a better understanding of an increasingly complex environment. Heller faculty has used this curriculum as a basis for the Executive MBA and tailors it to better fit the needs of currently practicing physicians.

Heller also has numerous executive education programs for practicing physicians in partnership with various medical societies and foundations. For example, The Brandeis Leadership Program in Health Policy and Management is an annual program sponsored by the American College of Surgeons, the Thoracic Surgery Foundation, and 14 other surgical societies. The Heller School-Hanley Center PELI Advanced Executive Leadership Course is a partnership program with Maine’s statewide Physician Executive Leadership Institute (PELI). Heller also has a partnership with the Physicians Foundation, offering healthcare management education to incoming heads of various state medical societies. These programs and others like them honed our Heller faculty’s skills educating practicing physicians.

Faculty

Our faculty includes academics and physicians on the front lines of medical practice and policy who are experienced in educating current and aspiring physician leaders. Heading the faculty is the program’s director, Dr. Jon A. Chilingerian, PhD, a professor at Brandeis and professor of public health and community medicine at Tufts School of Medicine. He is co-author of the book, International Health Care Management.

Dr. Chilingerian is joined by senior Brandeis faculty, including Dr. Stuart Altman, PhD, the Sol C. Chaikin Professor of National Health Policy at the Heller School, who serves as chairman of the Health Policy Commission for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He has been named one of the “100 Most Powerful People in Healthcare” multiple times by Modern Healthcare magazine. In addition, Dr. Jody Hoffer Gittell, PhD is the founder of the Relational Coordination Research Collaborative, which brings practitioners together to help organizations build relational coordination for high performance. Her research explores how workers, leaders, and customers contribute to quality and efficiency through their coordinated efforts.  Faculty bring this, and other, relevant expertise to the EMBA classroom.

Research and Institutes

The Heller School is home to a strong research community that enriches the EMBA’s content. The Schneider Institutes for Health Policy are three nationally regarded research institutes that enable EMBA participants to engage in a rich exchange of ideas with renowned educators, researchers and analysts in the field of healthcare policy development. The Institute for Behavioral Health focuses on the intersection of health, behavior, and systems of care. The Institute on Healthcare Systems is dedicated to providing innovative technical solutions to healthcare stakeholders who are attempting to improve quality, efficiency, and value in healthcare. The Institute for Global Health and Development focuses on the structure and delivery of healthcare, with an emphasis on the Universal Health Coverage agenda. The strong research community at Heller connects the EMBA faculty and students with the latest in health policy and management.


The Executive MBA for Physicians program benefits from the Heller faculty’s extensive expertise in both physician education and healthcare management and policy to educate physicians about the new science of medicine and management. Heller’s community fosters leaders who are committed to finding practical solutions to real problems affecting people all over the world. The Executive MBA for Physicians builds on this legacy to educate physicians about how to navigate the ever shifting world of healthcare.

EMBA for Physicians’ Hybrid Structure – Created with busy physicians in mind

It’s 10:30 a.m. on a Thursday.  Dr. Jon Chilingerian has just finished talking about the role of leadership in strategic thinking and decision making in healthcare, using a case about a real healthcare professional. He asked us for our own experiences and provided us with some frameworks to consider when facing similar challenges in the future. After break, we will be working with our study groups to apply the concepts we have learned in a simulated business experience.

This afternoon we will learn about process analysis with Dr. J. Bradley Morrison in Operations Management. In the course’s introductory session earlier this week, we played an interactive game that introduced and framed many of the everyday operations challenges we might experience in our organizations. In this session, we will explore how to analyze these situations, determine how they occur, and discuss what we can do to alleviate them.

At dinner tonight, we will be hearing remotely from Dr. Stuart Altman, our professor for the National Health Policy course next semester. He will be offering an informal “fireside chat” about the future of universal healthcare in this country and setting a groundwork for what we can expect during his class. When dinner ends, I will be going back to my room to work through some balance sheets for Financial Accounting.


The schedule of Brandeis University’s Executive MBA for Physicians program is different from most traditional degree programs. Its creators sought input from numerous focus groups of practicing physicians to make sure the schedule responds to their varied and complex professional and personal time constraints. Instead of attending weekly class meetings over a 14-week semester, physicians complete coursework in shorter, more intense, periods of instruction designed specifically for a mid-career physician’s lifestyle. The program combines four rigorous 10-day residency sessions (with days similar to the one outlined above) with two to six hours a week of live, online coursework for a total of 16 months.

Many EMBA programs require attending live residency sessions twice a month on weekends. Our design of four 10-day sessions over 16 months reduces the number of trips and the overall amount of time away from work and family, while immersing physicians in a concentrated learning environment. In the ten days, participants rotate through half a semester’s worth of coursework with two to three classes a day and group work, guest speakers and prep time in the evenings. They learn, study, eat, and sleep all in the same facility – an executive conference center with many amenities that cater to this type of program. Participants make the most of the hours they have together studying with and learning from each other in both formal and informal ways.

Physicians engage in powerful learning throughout the residencies, and coursework continues during the months in between with online sessions. These synchronous webinars allow classmates and faculty to meet to further discuss theories and their practical application. The webinars mirror a classroom as much as possible. Groups can meet in virtual breakout rooms, participants can share their screen to present to the rest of the class, faculty can lead case discussions, and guest speakers can engage remotely as they would in person. These sessions occur on Saturdays or weeknights and can often generate ideas that will be put into practice at work the very next day.

Busy professionals need to carve out intentional time to engage in an educational experience. A program for working professionals should have a schedule that aligns with the needs of its participant and balances thorough, rigorous study with the reality of work and life. Heller’s EMBA for Physicians intertwines participants’ work and learning for 16 months to advance their knowledge and practice of the new science of medicine and management.

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.

The EMBA for Physicians Classroom Experience

The Classroom Experience

The Heller School’s Executive MBA (EMBA) for Physicians is focused on improving both clinical outcomes and financial results in healthcare organizations by training physician-leaders in the new science of medicine and management.  The learning environment integrates the students’ medical expertise with new knowledge in critical areas ranging from health policy and economics to operations, high performance leadership, and healthcare innovation.   Learn more about the classroom experience below.

Modes of presenting material

The EMBA uses a variety of teaching methods to ensure students remain engaged in the learning and absorb the information.  The methods include lectures, case studies, problem sets, simulations, individual reflection, and small group work.  For instance, in Dr. Jon Chilingerian’s Leadership and Organizational Behavior course, students practice their leadership skills through a simulation where the goal is to identify support and resistance to a new idea throughout the organizational hierarchy.  In Dr. Michael Doonan’s State Health Policy course, students develop and present mock legislative testimony and receive live feedback from their classmates to prepare them to take their expertise back to their own state legislatures.  Regardless of the method, faculty look for creative ways to enhance student learning.

Professors well versed in teaching physicians

The EMBA was developed on a foundation of over twenty years teaching dual MD/MBA students and twelve years partnering with healthcare organizations to educate physician executives about the new science of medicine and management.  Our faculty are very familiar with the needs of physician learners and are able to go deeper than a typical MBA curriculum to illustrate how the concepts they are teaching apply to the field.  Many of the examples and cases used are healthcare focused – even in quantitative courses such as Accounting – so students see a full picture of the intersections between business skills and clinical practice. The faculty also pull from their extensive experience shaping healthcare policy on a state and national level. For example, Dr. Stuart Altman, the Sol C. Chaikin Professor of National Health Policy at the Heller School, serves as chairman of the Health Policy Commission for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Leveraging the medical experience in the room

Every student in the room is a mid-career, practicing physician who brings valuable professional experience to classroom discussions.  The Class of 2017 had 800+ years of clinical experience collectively between the 36 students.  That background provided examples, best practices, and a common language amongst the students that accelerated the collective comprehension of the material and how to apply it within the industry.  Students understand each other and the environments in which they work much more fully than if the program was open to people from other industries, or even to people in other roles within healthcare.  That understanding also increases the ability of students to support one another educationally and professionally through the program.  The bond built within the cohort and the ability to leverage each other’s professional knowledge have numerous benefits, especially within the classroom.

Online courses

After the residency periods, the courses continue with online sessions.  These sessions, also referred to as webinars, are accessed remotely – from home, work, conferences, vacations – but they still resemble a live classroom setting.  They are “synchronous”, meaning that the professor and students all join the session at the same time to teach and engage in the material.  The software mimics a classroom with live video of all participants, the option for a student to virtually raise their hand to ask or answer questions, and breakout rooms to split the class into groups during the session to work on projects and tackle specific questions.  This style differs from typical online courses, which are usually “asynchronous” and lead students through a structured series of modules and quizzes without live professor interaction.  The synchronous model tends to work well for people who prefer a traditional classroom setting.  It also allows faculty to judge the comprehension of the material by the entire class in a real-time way and allows students to bring their questions and concerns to the whole class at once.

Making the most of your EMBA: Leadership Coaching

EMBAphysicians

In a recent survey of 425 physicians from across the country conducted by the National Physicians Foundation, respondents reported that leadership development is their most important learning need.  The healthcare industry is a prime example of a business that is volatile and complex.  Crisis is the norm and physician leaders must navigate through a constantly changing environment.

Physicians usually rise to the position of leadership because of their expertise as a clinician and/or researcher, but those experiences do not guarantee leadership strength.  There are three primary components to becoming a strong, capable leader: knowledge about the science of management; advanced leadership skills and competencies; and vertical growth, or leadership maturity, necessary to be effective.

The Leadership Coaching Program helps you translate your EMBA curriculum into action by building your understanding of your leadership strengths and gaps, setting specific development goals, and providing peer coaching to practice and refine your leadership impact.

In the month before the EMBA begins, all students complete an online self-assessment exploring their leadership style.  They also identify 10 to 15 colleagues spanning all levels of professional relationship, from supervisor, to peer, to direct report, who complete the same tool.  These colleagues submit feedback across twelve key leadership competencies. Students then use an anonymous report detailing and comparing data to reflect on what they and their colleagues perceive to be their leadership strengths and gaps.

Students receive the reports during the first semester residency period and spend a full day in organized individual and group activities with an executive coach to review the report, create a development action plan, and train as peer coaches for each other.  This process repeats during the final semester with a second round of self-assessment and colleague feedback giving students the opportunity to judge their progress and refine their plan beyond the EMBA.

Engaging in the Leadership Coaching Program is an invaluable part of the EMBA experiences.  Students call it “extremely useful”, “an excellent feature of the program”, and “very relevant and excellently executed.”  Read below for more comments on the experience.

“I learned a lot about myself and received excellent feedback.  I will definitely apply what I learned to improve my leadership skills.”

“The most powerful part of this exercise was hearing the intense sharing and exchange with the other members of the group.  This built a lot of trust and the entire larger group seemed to be more cohesive after this exercise.”

“This was one of the most meaningful days in my professional life.”

“Great process and outcome for each of us individually and collectively.”

 

Why Should a Physician Get an Executive MBA?

Interview with Jon Chilingerian, executive director of the Executive MBA for Physicians program at Brandeis University’s Heller School for Social Policy and Management

What current trends in the healthcare industry warrant a physician obtaining an Executive MBA?

It’s critical that we first understand what’s expected of people in healthcare today. We have what I call a new triple performance problem. The first is that healthcare organizations are expected to achieve excellent technical outcomes. This means that the primary providers of care must work together to bring the cutting edge of biomedical science into the practice of medicine. The second performance problem is about outstanding patient experience. When patients enter the health system, they have needs beyond the technical aspects of their care. For example, the emotional needs, the need for information, the need for great relationships with providers, so that overall, they will feel extremely satisfied. The third performance problem, efficient care, is a bit more difficult particularly when you take the first two into consideration. Efficient care does not mean slash-and-burn downsizing, but rather providing the best care possible in a way that allows you to find the quickest way to help the patient – efficiently moving from diagnosis to treatment so that you reach those excellent technical outcomes and improve the overall health status of the patient.

And so the real question is, is it possible to do all three of these well? Unfortunately, there is growing evidence that there are very few places in the U.S. and around the world that do. I’ve heard from countless physicians who are struggling. They’re struggling to maintain a financially viable practice because of falling reimbursements and rising overhead costs, and because of things like malpractice insurance, new technologies and electronic health records. Physicians are also struggling with converting to a value based approach and with a new international classification of disease code. What we’re seeing is horrible physician burnout. So you put all this together and what we see is that the weight of the regulatory environment is negatively impacting the triple performance problem and thus, the practice of medicine and the experience of caregivers.

My new mantra is that every physician needs this kind of training in the blossoming science at the intersection of biomedical and management science. Physicians are the principal co-owners in the care process. They are the entrepreneurs that decide what new technologies and new methodologies ought to be adopted and assimilated. And they’re also the general managers of these care processes. There has been a large gap between medical decision-making in clinical operation and healthcare management. So I see the future very strongly around the idea that every physician is a leader and every leader is a collaborative team player.

How do you know if you’re ready for an Executive MBA program? What does an ideal candidate look like?

If you feel you were trained to help people and the job doesn’t give you the resources and support to do that, then you’re ready to consider an Executive MBA. If you’re an MD and you’re in a private practice, you’re working in a department, you are a clinical director, you’re a chair or chief, or you’re in the executive suite and you don’t have management training, then you would be an ideal candidate for our program. If you look at the motivating environment and you feel the incentives aren’t there to do the right thing, or you feel that people are not deeply engaged in the work that they do around you, or you see that coordination is lacking and the organization isn’t designed correctly, you are likely experiencing challenges. If you have difficulty understanding the cost of what you do, you need a more sophisticated understanding of cost.

It is essential that we understand the critical role of leadership within healthcare, and that just merely adopting new technology and trying to assimilate it into the organization doesn’t necessarily create value. We understand physicians must successfully navigate new regulatory requirements, new reimbursement requirements and the new value based approach, and our program can help. We provide not only the training but also the education and the skills from expert executive leadership coaches so that medical leaders can translate ideas and desire into helping people in a well-designed organization.

Generally speaking, what do most Executive MBA physicians aspire to accomplish upon finishing the degree? What are their future goals?

When you’re operating within the context we discussed earlier (the crushing overhead, the falling reimbursements, and the physician burnout), it can be hard to develop a personal strategy or path to successfully navigate the environment. So the first thing physicians should accomplish is to have a deeper and more clinical understanding of the situation in which they are embedded. An Executive MBA program allows you to reenergize and recommit yourself to the work that you originally vowed to do. Reenergizing and recommitting is a large part of coming back and doing this advanced graduate study. It’s ultimately a sense-making process that people go through, and as you begin to better understand the unfolding events that occur around you, you are then able to diagnose the situation in a much more lucid way.

The goal is that you come out and achieve aims for the 21st century: we want to produce safe care (avoiding injuries to patients); effective care (making sure that the best biomedical science knowledge is applied and through management science, effectively implemented); we want to achieve those triple aims (outstanding technical outcomes, outstanding patient experience, and efficient care); and finally, we want to produce equitable care (providing care that does not vary in quality because of the personal characteristics of gender, ethnicity, geography and so forth). We train you so that you can comfortably run a practice, but also become a chair of a department, a clinical director, a medical director, a chief operating officer and a chief executive of any size healthcare organization, including a hospital, accountable care organization, primary care organization, nursing home or rehabilitation center. Physicians leave with the confidence to alter their career trajectory, and the derivative is going to be much greater than it was before they started the program.  You’ll be able to create and lead institutions that are safe, effective, achieve the triple aims and are equitable.

Protected by Akismet
Blog with WordPress

Welcome Guest | Login (Brandeis Members Only)