MBA for Executives Students Describe their Independent Studies
The focus of the MBA for Executives: Leadership in Healthcare (MBA-e) curriculum is providing students with the skills needed to tackle the challenges facing leaders today. In fact, students often note that what they learn in class on weekends, they are able to put to immediate use in their professional lives on Monday. In the second year of the program, the students get a unique opportunity to broaden their knowledge of management and leadership and expand their capabilities through an Independent Study. Prem Kishan MBA-e '11 Dr. Jay Hammad MBA-e '11 Dr. Sai Haranath MBA-e '11
There is considerable flexibility in how the Independent Study requirement can be fulfilled. Students can take an elective outside of the Leadership in Healthcare curriculum at any one of Yale's professional schools, design a specific project such as writing a business plan for a start-up, or tackle a field study project for a healthcare organization that utilizes the skills learned in the classroom. Given the diversity of interests and advanced skills of the MBA-e students, with two-thirds of the class possessing more than 10 years of work experience, the Independent Study is fast becoming an element of the program that students describe as one of the highlights of their time at Yale.
Below, several students discuss their independent study experiences.
Program Management Consultant
Working with a team of six students, including full-time students from SOM as well as students from the Yale School of Public Health, and under the direction of our faculty advisors, Ravi Dhar and Dina Mayzlin, we were charged with identifying and developing tangible social networking strategies for products and procedures that would help the company.
Marketing in this space is complicated. The term "consumer" is different in healthcare. Incentives are not always aligned between patients, doctors, and hospitals, and there are more limits on how you can market to them. For the project, we investigated all the forms of possible social media communication. I'm not at liberty to discuss much of what we found, but what impressed me most was how real-world the project was. The company treated us as they would any outside consultants. I went in knowing it would be intense and it was. But I was able to choose something I have a passion for, so it made all the work really rewarding. The independent study makes you think hard about what you want out of the program and how you want to go about getting it.
Saratoga Vitreo-Retinal Ophthalmology
I am an ophthalmologist and retina specialist by training, and looking at the issues facing healthcare in the U.S. and internationally, I saw potential in providing quality services at a cost saving to the system. In this country, we are facing an aging population and an obesity and diabetes epidemic. Current guidelines specify yearly screening exams for retinal diseases but the healthcare providers are either swamped with patients or patients live in rural areas with poor access to adequate eye care. The idea of the business would be to place digital retinal cameras in primary care offices in the rural areas, which would then be able to transmit encrypted pictures to specialists located anywhere in the world.
Writing the business plan proved to be very rewarding. It was exciting to develop a "what if" idea all the way through a full-fledged business plan. Working through all the questions and thinking about the customer, the market, the competition, the product, and the operations and sales as well as developing a financial model and projections was both educational and gratifying. I definitely learned that there is a great deal of work to developing a start-up, and yet when you have an exciting idea, it's so worthwhile. Maureen Burke, who teaches Entrepreneurial Business Planning, served as my faculty advisor on the project, and she offered a tremendous amount of constructive criticism. Even though I have experience as an entrepreneur, she taught me some crucial lessons about how to start a successful business. This is what I want to do in the future and being able to do it in a safe environment with access to all the Yale resources is the reason I came here.
Physician and Healthcare Strategy Consultant
Arathi Ravi MBA-e '11
Business Development Manager
Ravi: Over the last several decades, inbound medical tourism has been common in the United States for oncology, cardiac, and plastic surgery. It's been very beneficial for places such as the Mayo Clinic and the Cleveland Clinic. We began to look into this area and quickly found out that this is a real possibility for inpatient psychiatric care. We provided the hospital with a roadmap to implementing such a program.
Haranath: The senior leadership we worked with at Silver Hill are true leaders in healthcare and it became apparent early on that they were not treating this as a school project. They provided us with a direct view of how they work in terms of strategy and how they involve consultants, and provided us with insight into working with their board. The experience has been priceless.
Ravi: The experience has been rewarding and educational for us and we received some great feedback from them as well. In particular, they felt that our work complemented the larger strategic planning process in which the hospital is now engaged and they invited us back to join the strategic planning retreat with their board of directors. Because we all work full-time and can't take on internships, the independent study is a great alternative that allowed us to develop a significant and rewarding project while utilizing the skills we learned in our program.
Prem Kishan MBA-e '11
Dr. Jay Hammad MBA-e '11
Dr. Sai Haranath MBA-e '11
Christina Mainelli MBA-e '11
Vice President, Client Strategy and Innovation