Open Forum with GW Healthcare MBA Graduates – Healthcare Professionals

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Spotlight on some of our graduates. They share their decision process, program experience and real-world outcomes in this webinar.

On panel:
Chris Katkocin, PMP, 2011 Graduate – Deputy Director, The Altarum Institute
Christopher J. Mehall, MD, 2013 Graduate – Founder/President, Superior Vascular & Interventional Specialists, P.C
Julie Blommel, MD, 2015 Graduate – Team Lead, OBHG Hospitalist, St Mary’s Hospital
Kimberly Matthew, 2014 Graduate – Division Manager of Geriatric Medicine & UF Health Senior Care Clinic at UF Health Gainesville


Annie: We have Chris Katkocin who graduated in 2011 and currently [the deputy director at the Altarum Institute in Washington, D.C. And then we also Dr. Christopher J. Mehall who graduated in 2013 and is the founder and president of Superior Vascular and Interventional Specialists Pain Centre in Michigan.

And then we will soon have Kimberly Matthews who is in Florida who graduated in 2014 and is currently the division manager of Geriatric Medicine and University of Florida Health Senior Care Clinic at UF Health Gainesville.

Sorry. Again, if you’re on the phone please keep your phone on mute until – until – until the Q&A session just so that we can maintain quality of the audio.

And then last but not least, we have Julie – Dr. Julie Blommel who has recently graduated and is currently team lead obstetrician at St. Mary’s Hospital in Virginia.

So I’m going to pass it over to each of the graduates just so then they can self introduce themselves and for you guys to get to know them before we get into the open forum.

If you don’t mind, Chris, if you could just get us started?

Chris: Sure. Thanks, Annie.

So I’m Chris Katkocin. As Annie mentioned, I graduated from the Healthcare MBA in 2011. I was working during my time in the program at two different hospitals in the Northern Virginia area right outside of D.C. working in – as a director of operations and an assistant director of operations before that.

While I was wrapping up my program, I moved over to a healthcare consulting firm, the Altarum Institute, and I’ve been here for coming up on six years in May. We primarily focus on providing healthcare consulting services to commercial hospitals but mostly in the D.C. area.

We operate in the federal sector. I primarily work for the Department of Veteran Affairs specifically, the Veteran’s Health Administration in providing a wide array of services to both political figures as well as the clinical staff located at the – at the facilities throughout the nation as well.

Annie: Thank you.

Christopher, did you want to also self introduce yourself –

Christopher: Sure.

Christopher: Sure. I’m Chris Mehall and I live and work up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan at Marquette General Hospital. And we started a practice in Vascular Interventional Radiology about 15 years ago. And anybody that’s familiar with the field understands that interventional is a very technologically rapidly advancing field. But – and so I started the program back in 2011.

It was an interesting experience being that I’m a little bit older than most everybody else. I actually graduated from medical school in the mid ’80s and practiced out in Detroit for a number of years and then moved up here.

So it was – it was different. And since I finished the program I’m starting to move on to some other things as well.

So – and that’s about it.

Annie: All right. Thank you.

And Julie?

Julie: Hi. Yes, I sure am. Hi I’m Julie Blommel. I – as Annie said, am an obstetrician/gynaecologist.

And also graduated from medical school in the mid 1980s. And for many years was a fulltime solo practitioner doing obstetrics and gynaecology. And made a decision to get my MBA with the changing face of medicine.

It’s interesting that, you know, I was extremely well trained to do emergency surgery and deliver babies and – but nowhere do they teach us very much about business and overhead and running practices and reimbursements and insurance companies.

And so part of my trying to evaluate what I wanted to do involved me getting my MBA and coming better prepared for this changing face of medicine where unfortunately these solo practitioner is going to be a thing of the past, and that for many physicians you need to be in a very large group or you need to be an employee.

So I too made a decision to get my MBA in my 50s. And during that time period, and from what I learned getting my MBA, made the decision to become a hospitalist. So I’m actually team lead of the OB Hospitalist program for a large corporation in Richmond, Virginia.

So as team lead I do much interviewing and attend all the administrative meetings as well as actively do what I love and practice obstetrics and gynaecology. But not being in solo practition – solo practitioner anymore, I – I do my shift. I work very hard and then I pass the phone to the next person.

So the MBA really helped me make a decision about what I want to do. You don’t think of changing careers in your 50s or changing jobs.

And unlike some of my cohorts on the phone, I started my program a little bit earlier. And then due to my mother’s death and my father’s illness, as an only child I actually took a leave of absence. And George Washington University was wonderful working with me and coming back and finishing some of the independent projects and then graduating and actually getting my official diploma last year.

Annie: Thank you, Julie.

Now I know Kimberly is still not on the call right now. But when she does, She can introduce herself as she logs on.

So we will get started. And thank you. And again welcome everyone to this webinar and welcome Chris, Christopher and Julie in really taking the time to speaking with us today out of your busy schedules.

So we really want to know, and I know a lot of people on the call, you guys are considering the program or are already applying to the program and want to get to know why you chose Healthcare MBA. And I know you guys kind of already touched on a little bit of that during your introduction.

But if you don’t mind letting us know what is your typical workday in your professional life? And also, you know, what were your reasons for pursuing the Healthcare MBA specifically?

And again, this is open forum. So Chris, Christopher and Julie, you guys can start, and you guys can have that discussion.

Chris: Sure, thanks, Annie. This is Chris Katkocin and I’ll – I’ll start. I mean for me it’s a little bit different when I was in the program. I don’t have a clinical background. However – I mean a typical workday for me is – it varies. Working in consulting and – and in federal contracting it – it depends on kind of what you’re working on, who your clients are.

For me it’s the variety that actually kind of motivates me and drives me. I’ve worked on contract where we’re travelling out to V.A. Medical Centres to perform coding audits and identify areas for improvement, apply Lean Six Sigma process improvement methods and ways of improving performance and increasing efficiency. And then we can turn around and be looking at monitoring patient flow for certain hospitals and – and how they can improve that.

A lot of the work we really do at Altarum is also focused on revenue cycle management and improving processes and procedures for improving the way specifically the V.A. is able to collect against their [unintelligible 00:08:19].

So the typical life for – in a consultant, it – it really varies. A lot of phone calls, a lot of meetings, a lot of back [unintelligible 00:08:28] and we’ll go to the Hill, stand in front [unintelligible 00:08:31].

Annie: Sorry to jump in, Chris. I think, your –

Chris: Breaking up –

Annie: – your reception there is breaking up, yeah. So you might want to repeat –

Chris: Oh I’m sorry. Can you hear me?

Annie: – your last two sentences. Yeah, I can – we can hear you now.

Chris: Okay. So yeah, I was just saying that the typical workday varies. We can be doing, you know, presentations, conferences one day and then the next day just doing back into work to deliver whatever we’re contractually obligated to provide to our client.

So it – it does vary. I could be in a hospital setting for a couple of weeks. And then back in the office for a couple of weeks.

But the – the reasons for me pursuing the – the Healthcare MBA, so I – I wanted to get my master’s degree for a while and what drew me to the healthcare is again I was already working at a hospital.

The background in my family, my father was a microbiologist and designed vaccines. My mother was a head nurse at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. So I kind of just the – the family background to get involved in healthcare.

So – and again having currently been working on site at hospitals as a director of operations, that kind of drove me towards the – when I saw the Healthcare MBC and really interested me in it.

Annie: Chris. And – and before we come to the next graduate – sorry, Christopher, sorry.

Christopher: That’s okay.

Annie: I noticed Kimberly – I noticed Kimberly is just on the call. Hi – hi, Kim, can you hear us.

Kimberley: Yes, I can hear you just fine.

Annie: All right. Well, welcome. Thank you for joining us.

We are – we just did our introduction – or each of the graduates have already done an introduction. Maybe you could also do introduction as part of answering to the question. Because we’re just covering, you know, what your typical workday is like in – in your professional life. And also what were some of your reasons for pursuing Healthcare MBA?

Kimberly: Okay. Well I will tell you, a typical workday can be crazy. Today is an example of that. Hence me joining the call a little bit late.

Right now I’m transitioning from University of Florida where I’m the division manager. And I’m transitioning up to Duke where I’ll be health centre administrator. So I’m wrapping up a lot of things today.

So today is maybe a little atypical. Typical in the sense of being busy, but atypical in the sense that I’m literally trying to wrap up, you know, division of work in one day. And then of course today was the webinar which I – I didn’t want to miss being a participant of.

What I love about GW and what made me join the Healthcare Management MBA program is I had been working in healthcare for probably over 17 years. And I had did a bachelor’s in healthcare administration. And the program I went to had the option of, you know, you could do a master’s in healthcare administration.

And I wanted to do a master’s but I didn’t want to do one in healthcare administration because I – I wanted to build on what I had already learned through many years of experience and also through the bachelor’s in healthcare administration. But what I wanted was a program that was going to be more robust in business.

And I had originally been from Maryland. So I knew of GW and, you know, how great and esteemed of an institution it was.

So when I realized that they had an MBA program that also focused on healthcare management, I knew that was going to be a program that I felt like I would get the best information out of to kind of build on what I had already learned and experienced, but also to provide more – more education in the – the business aspects of management.

Annie: Thank you.

Sorry, Christopher, you were about to introduce yourself – say something.

Christopher: No, no problem at all. I – my day is – you know, it – it – it can be crazy at times. I usually start everyday at 6:30 and we usually go until seven or eight at night.

And because of our – the nature of our practice, it kind of grew. We now have five physicians and extenders and about a dozen staff.

And to be honest with you out of, you know, while the clinical care has always been busy, the – the business side of things was really starting to drive me crazy. Everything from – particularly financial issues and particularly hospital relationships and, you know, those sorts of things.

H.R. was always an issue. And so I decided that I really needed to do something about it to try do – try to improve the practice from that end.

On top of the fact that, you know, it was becoming obvious that the real changes in healthcare are going to be on the business side of things over the next few years. That’s where all of the – the innovation is coming.

And I really wanted to understand that better. Be in a position to take advantage of opportunities and also protect ourselves from mistakes. And so that was – that was really why I decided to pursue the MBA program.

Annie: Thank you. And, Julie, did you have anything to add?

Julie: Well I think that Chris sort of, you know, we’re saying the same things, you know, the changing face of medicine.

I, you know, was in a large academic centre, was sort of recruited by the smaller community hospital. And, you know, just loving what I do. But then just being completely inundated with, you know, running a business, hiring, firing employees, insurance, reimbursement, you know, patients not understanding their insurance, their reimbursements. It’s just learning about the business side of medicine.

And I felt like it – it – it was definitely something I needed to do in order to make a decision about where I was going to go. I’m not sure if people are aware, but most women in obstetrics end up giving up the OB part and doing just gynaecology. And I love obstetrics and wanted to continue doing obstetrics.

And, you know, with the long hours and the high malpractice, felt like I wanted to do that but needed to do something different as far as how I practiced that, to do what I love, to perhaps serve underprivileged women, to be able to continue to practice without all of the stresses and burdens of exactly what Chris was saying, overhead and business and management.

And certainly solo practice was not going to be, I think, where I was going to retire from.

Christopher: One thing that I thought was interesting and – and Julie kind of touched on it was that, you know, the – physicians in general, I think, are – tend to be really fairly rather intelligent people but I think they think they know business a lot better than they do.

And you know, it’s – it’s really tough to try to align the – the – the needs of the physicians with the needs of the healthcare system. And that was – that was a really big driving point for me too that, you know, how do you get the points across? How do you come up with ideas that’ll benefit the healthcare system and benefit the physicians and their patients?

And – and that was really a big point for me that I figured I had to figure this out better and understand it better. And that was one of the big reasons that I – I really wanted to – to pursue some further education.

Julie: Exactly. And when you think about the difficulty we have understanding reimbursements and overhead and – and all the things we do, you can imagine perhaps how difficult it is for patients who don’t have that background to understand their insurance and why they can and can’t have this done. And why this was approved and that wasn’t approved. And, you know, patients definitely have – have even become angry trying to understand the business side of medicine.

So it – it makes sense if – if we do it every day and we’re having trouble, it makes sense that other people are having trouble. So it also, I think, helps us be a better physician and helps us serve our patients better.

Annie: Thank you, thank you. I’m going to go to the next couple of questions before we open up the floor for any questions from the audience.

And – and everyone who’s on – who are on the call, you can – everyone is on mute when you guys came online. You guys can unmute yourself by pressing pound six onto your phone. And then that will unmute yourself.

But again, I want to make sure that everyone is – still mute their phone while we’re – we’re on the presentation. And what you guys can do is when you guys have unmuted yourself through the phone by pressing pound six, you guys can then control the mute and unmute function directly on your phone – from your phone so that you can – it’ll be just easier that way.

So while everyone tries to unmute themselves and getting ready for Q&A, I’m just going to go – jump into the next couple of questions and really ask the graduates to share with us, you know, when you guys were deciding on this program – or not just this program. I’m sure there were a lot of options out there – what made this program stand out and like – and when you got into this program how did you balance your time between everything that you guys are doing?

Chris: So for me what – what really made this stand out, and someone alluded to it before, was really the focus on healthcare. I was always interested in getting an MBA. But the way that this program takes the components of an MBA but applies it all to the healthcare industry to me that was really what made it stood out.

There were, you know, your – your typical MBA classes, financial accounting, financial management, but they were all specifically related or applied to the healthcare industry. And for people that want to be active in that industry and pursue careers in that industry, I mean, I thought it was fantastic the way you can make those direct connections as opposed to having more generalist applications that are broader across any or multiple industries.

So to me that – that was the big thing that balancing work life and school that was – was definitely a challenge. I worked fulltime and went to school fulltime going through this program.

It was challenging. I mean I – I think it’s – it’s – you just find a way to manage your time. I had two different scenarios. I was working nights at a hospital when I first started. So it was actually a little bit easier for me to do work during the day for – to – for all my academic requirements.

And then I switched over to a more traditional nine to five or more like seven to eight really job. And it’s just making sure you schedule out enough time to get the work done that you need to get done.

Sometimes it’s – you know, you have to make some sacrifices. But I think that should be expected of any MBA program to parts of your personal life.

But it – with the speed at which the program moved and the ability to really reach out and work collaboratively with a lot of the other people within my cohort that helped to balance that out. And the – the flexibility of an online program really made that work.

Kimberly: And I would agree with what Chris is saying. I thought the – the program was definitely a rigorous program. However it is designed for working professionals.

So you are given a – you know, your syllabus and you know what’s kind of coming. There is no surprises.

Your cohort is in the same position you’re in so when it comes to group work and things like that everyone balanced their time really, really well.

We did a lot of projects and things were delegated early on so we could kind of, you know, match schedules and do all those things and kind of still somehow manage to squeak out somewhat of a personal life.

I mean, again as Chris said there’s definitely some sacrifices to be made. There were times when I was trying to do a vacation and I had my laptop and I couldn’t leave a hotel room, you know. But those are sacrifices that you make.

And again as I stated when I first came on, the program because it was so focused on healthcare that was what made this program stand out. There would – you know, when I took my Bachelor of Healthcare Administration we did financial accounting and those sort of things.

But I will say surprisingly this program focused more on healthcare than that program did and that was a healthcare administration program. So you definitely get a real feel for applying things like strategic plans strictly in a sense of healthcare management.

So those were things that I think anyone that wants to go into healthcare management you will really benefit from it because you’ll get a real world experience.

Also a lot of the case studies that we did were all taken directly from hospital systems that some you’ll be familiar with. So all of those things really made this program stand out and it made it a practical application of things that you’ll do when you get into your career if you’re not already in healthcare.

Christopher: I thought that the – for me what made the program stand out was – I agree with everything that Chris and Kim have said. But, you know, the – the work was interesting.

I thought the vast majority of the faculty was outstanding. You know, I’ve compared notes with a lot of other people who have done MBA programs. And – and I – I just thought the experience I had was just significantly better than – than most other people that I had talked to.

You know, balancing the – the time is always an issue. It’s a challenge. I – I really thought before the program started that I was very good at time management, but I – my time management skills improved markedly.

And what’s really interesting to me is that after going through the program my time management skills really have stepped it up a notch. And if anything I’ve become significantly more efficient at managing my time now than I was before the program. So that’s – that’s something that just came away from the program as an aside.

But – but overall it’s a challenge. But if you’re enjoying it, it’s not that tough. I – I mean it was a lot of work. But I – I found it just interesting. And that – that makes it a lot easier to get through the program.

Julie: I – I would definitely agree. I think it certainly for me was the combination of the healthcare focus, an excellent online program and that being in solo practice, you know, having a husband, having three children, having a fulltime job, I didn’t feel like I could travel to any campus once or twice a week. So the online program was a big draw.

And I have to say the reputation; you have to look at the reputation of the program you’re going to. It’s, you know, fabulous to get this online degree. But you have to look at the reputation of the program so that it means something to other people too when you’re using it to change jobs, advance jobs, interview that the reputation of GW was certainly part of my decision making process.

As far as the time management, you know, there were definitely mommy’s taking a timed test. And, [you know, going through this 00:24:39] I did miss some functions. My husband would have to sometimes tell people that his wife was taking a test.

And there would be the reactions of that’s amazing versus what is she doing. So you definitely have to schedule – definitely be prepared for times [that, like you said, 00:24:59] not leaving a hotel room, not leaving the study. And of course like I said, my situation was a little different in that I was able to speak to, you know, my – see and speak to my professors, take a leave of absence for my family situation.

Annie: Sorry, Julie your line is also cutting in and out a little bit. I think there’s wind or [unintelligible 00:25:26].

Julie: It’s – it’s not me. It’s not me. I’m in my study. There’s no wind for me.

Annie: Oh, okay. So Chris or some – anyone who’s on the call if you could just mute your phone, because yeah, there was some disturbance to the audio.

Sorry, Julie. If you could repeat the last couple of sentence and because it was kind of in and out.

Julie: Okay. Yeah. [Unintelligible 00:25:48] there’s no wind in my study.

Annie: Sorry, thank you.

Julie: I – I was in a little bit different situation. You know, you definitely have to schedule, plan for timed test and plan for group projects.

And then when I needed to not complete an independent project, my – my dean – my professors were absolutely so understanding that I was an only child and had these family emergencies. And was able to take basically a leave of absence and take care of my dad and – and – and able to come back and finish my independent project.

So they were very understanding that, you know, things do happen. And it certainly was not a lack of my motivation. It was a family emergency. So it made me, you know, even prouder of this program, the – the way that they were so responsive to me.

Annie: I feel sorry to hear that. Okay.

Now, everyone who is on the call, if you guys have any questions, for the panellists right now I can open up the line or – oh there are some folks who are – so it seems like folks might not be able to unmute themselves here.

I can unmute everyone. Now everyone should be on unmute and you guys [unintelligible 00:27:13].

Oh, oh, hi, oh this isn’t – this isn’t quite – everyone – is there any questions on the call?

I will – we can save that for a little bit later because I think everyone’s background is a little bit – the audio background is a little different right now.

Female Voice: Muted.

Annie: Okay. So we will go on and then – if you guys have any questions, again you guys can bring out over the call or on the chat room that’s on the bottom right of your screen.

Now, why don’t I just get into the program experience a little bit from the graduates? So what was your – what was one of your favourite courses as well in the program if you guys can recall?

Julie: I think one of my independent projects that I did on – like I said, the changing face of medicine and the demographics of Charlottesville, Virginia, my joke to my family and friends are I probably know more about Charlottesville, Virginia now than anyone studying that there’s immigration relocation, et cetera here. And the number of dialects spoke in Charlottesville.

And just for me it was having lived here since I joined the faculty at the University of Virginia, I learned things that I never knew about doing that independent project. Looking at Charlottesville, looking at the needs of the community, the demographics of the community, for me that was very interesting.

Also I did a project on the medical spa sort of changing where many practices also start offering spa services. So I did a lot of work on that. Even surveyed my patients. So those were really interesting for me.

Obviously statistics were a little bit harder for me. I really enjoyed the business law. I loved – just as Kimberly said – I loved the case presentations because all of them were hospital healthcare based. And those were very interesting too.

Chris: For me there were – there were a couple of classes that I actually would say were the most memorable or were some of my favourites. Specifically when I first started the program and I was working in a hospital operations, one of the things I was tasked with was designing our emergency management or disaster response plan at Potomac Hospital in Woodbridge, Virginia. We were looked as an emergency centre.

And during some of the major snowstorms we got, people were having to stay at the hospital. I myself had to sleep there for three or four days. And it was while I was taking the disaster management course through the program where we were studying the – FEMA’s reaction to the Katrina Hurricane and a bunch of other kind of how to deal and manage with disaster management situations.

So to me, I mean, it was – it was a very memorable. It was very applicative to the work I was doing.

And then interestingly enough, when I moved over to the Altarum Institute and was taking a course called management – or it was actually called Healthcare Consulting, and it just happened to happen right when I was kind of shifting careers.

Peter Block was the author of the book, which actually is – it’s a well-known book about being in management and business consulting. But it was a very interesting. It kind of really helped for me. And it was very memorable in making that transition in careers from operations to business and healthcare consulting.

And again that was one of the things I liked about the program was that diversity of all the different courses and the different ways you could learn about the healthcare industry and the different management aspects that can be applied. And kind of you can figure out how some of these can directly impact what you’re doing in your career and – and how you work within the healthcare industry.

So to me those were – those were two of the most memorable courses. Some of them were kind of more at the right time when they happened. So it – it – it helped out. But I think those were two of the more interesting classes I took as well.

Kimberly: I would say for me the online learning experience if you’re unfamiliar with it, the platform is extremely easy, extremely user friendly. And if you run into any problems there’s always someone that can assist you.

As far as what my favourite course in the program was, I would have to say it was probably professor – excuse me – Professor Tarabishy. He taught entrepreneurship. And for me because I’m so risk adverse, I would never think of going into business on my own or anything like that. I will admit. I’m probably completely a coward in that aspect.

But he made that course so interesting. You learned so much that you left with confidence that you really could do it if you wanted to do it. I mean he was just that infectious of a professor.

We would call in and have online platforms. And we would all have the chance – he would call on everyone and you would have a chance to talk and speak and go through different questions with him. And he was awesome. It made it almost feel like you were literally sitting in a course on campus.

So I would definitely say his courses were probably the most memorable for me. And he definitely was a – I mean there’s a lot of professors that’s great. He was one of the best. So I would definitely say he was probably one of the most memorable professors in his courses because he taught a few of them.

I believe another one was knowledge management. He was – he was extremely good. And with most of us that have been in healthcare for a long time, we were around when healthcare records – electronic records were ushered in. So we pretty much feel – you know, felt confident that we knew everything about it.

But he definitely put a spin on it and gave more information. And you learned more than you had ever learned before.

I walked away knowing that the military insurance or TRICARE was one of the first to introduce the electronic health record and have it go, you know, across, you know, the country.

So we – we – we learned so much. Things that you thought you knew, you learned much more than that. So I would definitely say that was one of the more memorable courses. And he was a very memorable professor.

Julie: And I too adored him, Kim. He was so supportive and so wonderful. I’m going to get teary just talking about him.

When my mother died, he was just so understanding and so wonderful and just was like you need to help your family. You need to be there. You know, we can take a break if we have to. He was just so kind.

Kimberly: He was definitely a – a great professor, very, very good.

Annie: Thank you everyone. I – I see some questions coming in. And this one, I think, you guys have kind of spoken to a little bit but I will rephrase her question a little bit.

So she is currently a doctor practicing for over 20 years now. So I’m sure you guys can – can – can speak to that. And she’s just wondering, like given that our program it’s MBA in – or healthcare focused, do you think that it – the healthcare component of – of MBA has really helped in terms of helped your career because it’s healthcare focused?

Kimberly: Oh absolutely. I’ll – I’ll jump in on this one just because I had kind of alluded to this in my answer before.

Having spent, like I said, over 17-18 plus years in – in healthcare before I entered into this program, I thought that I pretty much knew all there was to know. But when I went into this program, like I said, there were things that we were exposed to, things that we learned about that were healthcare focused that I really don’t think I would have learned if I’d took a traditional MBA program.

Now clearly there’s some things, I think, like Chris had alluded to about, you know, financial accounting and those standard things. However having things being streamlined to teach you just about healthcare and – and you think about things like strategic plans. You think about things like process operation.

But when you’re looking at it and it’s – it’s designed to teach you specifics about healthcare management, I think you definitely walk away with more information. And you definitely walk away knowing more than, you know, you ever thought that you – you – you know, what you thought you already knew. You definitely walk away knowing more of that.

So I would definitely say that this program to me versus a traditional MBA program for people that are in healthcare, I think, because you’re on the – the cutting edge. They seem to – they – they stay very much abreast of what’s going on right now. So you’re dealing with all of that stuff.

Where a traditional program may not focus on exactly what’s going on in – in healthcare today. And when you’re thinking about things like the – the new healthcare plans, ObamaCare and these different things, things that we – we apply to the MBA program. Versus if you did a more traditional program you would probably touch on things but it would not be dedicated to, you know, what’s going on today in healthcare because it wouldn’t be specific to that.

Chris: Yeah, and I would echo what – what Kim was saying. Having the focus – I mean could I do my current job with a regular MBA? Probably. But having the focus on healthcare, I think, was a major boost, one in kind of getting my foot in the door where I currently am at.

But also just across the industry, it – it really helps to focus and hone in on some of those – the healthcare components as it relates to – to business, at least for me working in healthcare consulting.

I’ve – for me I was actually choosing between this program and the MHA at Georgetown University. And I actually – when I saw this one I liked it better. And I – it was actually more conducive to my schedule as well.

So it – I think the – that was what really drove it towards – home for me was the – the healthcare components and the focus on the healthcare. And I think it was invaluable in utilizing that information that was learned to be able to go out and – and apply everything in the industry.

Whereas if you were taking a traditional MBA, you’re going to learn it at such a broad and more enterprise-wide level, you’re going to be looking at compAnniees or corporations to do your case studies or any scenarios where it’s going to be extremely broad. Where here at least it’s narrowed down to a specific industry whether it’s hospitals or healthcare providing compAnniees that you’re utilizing as part of your analysis and case studies.

But it’s going to be more applicable to exactly what you do. And to me I thought that was one of the best pieces from the program.

Christopher: I think that the – hold on.

Julie: No. I – I think you and I are probably going to say the same – same thing. I think that, you know, sometimes people are surprised that a physician is looking for any, you know, more education when they’re thinking but you’re in healthcare.

Exactly. We’re providing healthcare. But we don’t have that healthcare knowledge that – that Kim was talking about.

And I think, you know, for the MDs that may be on – on the line, it – it definitely gives you that additional knowledge. It makes you a better candidate to perhaps doing a new job, a different job. Becoming more a physician who has that business knowledge that you can apply whether it means becoming your department chairman, going into administration, working with other industries.

You know, for me I completely closed my private practice. I’m – I’m team lead at my program. I’m – so I’m very actively involved with the hospital administration while – while doing what I love as a physician.

Christopher: I just thought that the program, it – it – the – the healthcare focus number one makes it more interesting. You know, you – part of the reason you go into an MBA program is because you want people to bring a wealth of experience to discuss. And – and that’s what you know.

And so if you’re – if you’re bringing all that wealth of experience to the table from both the administrative side, as so many people do, and the medical side, which so many physicians and nurses bring in, it – it just makes the program that much easier to maintain interest in and enthusiasm about.

And ultimately I think most people that are in healthcare probably aren’t going to leave the field. It’s not like you’re going to go off into manufacturing or something like that. So this is what you’re probably going to be involved in the rest of your life.

Now that said, the program is – there is enough of a – a broad enough knowledge base that if you really wanted to go off and do something say in industry, you – you have – you still have an excellent understanding of the business side of – to be able to – to make that move if you wanted to.

But I – I just think that the – the healthcare focus makes it so much more enjoyable and so much more applicable to what you’re going to do.

Julie: And I think if you, you know, I just saw the question from the pharmacist. If – if – you know, two pharmacists are applying for a job or a new program or, you know, you have to say the one who has the additional MBA is going to be the better candidate.

Annie: Thank you, Julie, yeah. I notice that you’re also active on the – on the chat box. And yes, we are going to get to your question.

She was wondering how many hours are – like from a – during the program when you guys were working in the courses, how many – how many like – from – how many – sorry – how many lectures were actually live versus – versus a lot of how – how many are independent study?

I know you guys were also talking about independent projects. And I’m going to latch onto that question. Some folks are asking how long did it take you guys to kind of prepare – or – or work on that project?

Julie: Well, I have answered the question briefly on – for me when I was going through the program, yes, there were definitely times where we had live lectures. But many of them were also recorded if you needed to listen to them later or you couldn’t attend.

As far as your group meetings, you often worked with one or two or three or four other people. You would review each other’s papers. And some of that you could do independently.

Sometimes you would set up times that were, you know, conducive to everybody’s schedules. So that sometimes there are Sunday afternoons where, you know, you’re online. And you’re doing you’re reading or you’re doing you’re program, the independent projects.

Like it was mentioned earlier, sometimes I could do research while I was at work, look up articles, get more information. Yes, I think probably for me, as an obstetrician with a beeper attached to me during all of that time, I would actually have to get coverage for the timed test because I was fearful that my beeper would go off and I would be – could talk to someone about being in early labour while the clock was ticking on my timed test.

So I did actually get coverage for my one and two hour timed test. But pretty much everything else I could do and continued to do my job. Continued to read while I was at school functions. You know, continued to work fulltime. And, you know, was right on target.

And so, you know, the – the health problems came up in my family. And then like I said, they were very accommodating in letting me take some time off.

Christopher: One thing, I think, that GW does very well is the online experience. [Unintelligible 00:43:40] talk to some people that took the program ahead of me and – and seeing what it’s doing now. And they use a very good platform with Blackboard. That helps.

I think that they continually – the classes are continually looked at. They’re – they’re updated. They’re – you know, that they – they try to always take what’s best and incorporate what’s better.

Also – but – but the tools help in a very good online library program that makes your life 1,000 percent easier when you can be sitting there looking and doing class work and [one night you 00:44:13] need to pull a paper up, you can instantly just flip over to another window on your computer and look up an article at the library. And it’s right in front of you in 10 seconds, that’s – that’s a tremendous benefit. And it makes your – it makes your life a whole lot easier.

As Julie said when you’re trying to run a practice and – and practice medicine to have all of these tools available [unintelligible 00:44:36] you can handle the workload.

Kimberly: And I would say in response to the question from Mr. Martinez, you wanted to know what type of things or projects were you better prepared to tackle? And I would go back to again what I’ve been saying is that you learn so much. And the – the course work is so diverse.

So if you take for example there was a course, I think, in global business or international management. There’s a course in – in leadership.

And it gives you so much perspective that I think you’re able to tackle a number of things much better than you would have having not had this course work because one of the things that you learn about in global management or international management is to work with diverse populations.

And people think of that on the terms of, you know, globally what, you know, you may be doing in the U.S. versus having to deal with people in other countries. But if you also consider the fact that the U.S. is such a melting pot that in your own department, divisions, orgAnniezations, you’re going to have a number of people from different places. And you better learn how to deal with people and you’re more culturally sensitive to certain things.

Where the leadership management, that was one of my favourite courses. It really helped me to become a better leader. I really learned a lot about different types of leadership theory. I personally prefer a servant leadership. I love the idea of getting buy-in. Being able to communicate and explain things to staff so that, you know, they’re happier to go along with whatever new initiatives are there.

It – so it definitely helped me to be a better manager.

So there are a number of different things that you tackle when you talk about customer service. There were things that I implemented that I hadn’t considered before until taking this course work and looking at different case studies and how different orgAnniezations did things differently and did things better than what we were doing at the orgAnniezations that I – that I – you know, was currently working in at the time that I was taking the course work.

So there are definitely a number of things that you’ll gain from this – this program. And I think it’ll be very broad based. It won’t be any one particular thing, one particular project. But it’ll be a number of things that you walk away from with this – this course – with the course work.

The other question about independent projects, a lot of that depends on you. Some people take longer to kind of orgAnnieze their thoughts, printing articles or – or – or however, you know, whatever your method is based upon whatever project you’re given.

For me typically if it was group work or course that takes a little more time because you have to kind of coordinate schedules. But again with the systems that we have now, with WebEx and GoToMeeting and all of these sort of things, it makes it so much easier to kind of coordinate your schedule around other people and you pick a good group

And the other thing is your cohort, these people are with you for the most part through the whole two years. So you can kind of build groups upon people that you’re – you know, you can marriage schedules with and you kind of a similar interest.

And you kind of can build a good group because I think once I had a couple of groups still – had started to look at the same people because I knew I worked very well with those people and I – I kind of knew what their – their process was for how they worked. And so I was able to – I was easily able to produce quality work relatively quickly because you had the same choice of people in a lot of your groups.

So I think that clearly it’s a rigorous program, again. You will put the time in. I mean it is an MBA program. I don’t think you would want anything less. But a lot of it really depends upon you and, you know, your strategy and what teams you choose.

If it’s independent that’s solely depends on you. So that, you know, depends upon your process and also the project.

Chris: Yeah. And I just wanted to add one more thing to the people that are asking about the amount of time.

I saw Christopher had put in about 10 to 15 hours. I would – I would agree with that, sometimes less, sometimes more. I mean I – I took the program about six years ago. But to me it was – it was very reading intensive if you were keeping up with a lot of the reading which, I mean, I always tried to do as much as possible.

The amount of time spent online to me I found I was doing more reading from the text rather than being online where there were live sessions with some of the teaching assistants or the professor’s assistants. But I – I would say 15 hours a week more or less is – is about right.

And the amount of time online would probably be when you’re contributing to your – the – the – the group discussions or if there’s anything you’re downloading from Blackboard like a PowerPoint briefing or something that you’d be reviewing at the time you’d be spending online, so at least a couple of hours a week.

And I saw someone just ask the question about living outside of the D.C. area. So I lived very close to Foggy Bottom in D.C. I was in Northern Virginia in Arlington. I utilized the campus often.

I didn’t go down and sit in any classes. But I did go and meet with professors. I mean it was because it was available to me. But I would go down and meet with the professor’s assistants or the professors themselves when possible if – to sit and talk through things as needed.

There were also a couple of members in my cohort, as we met each other we realized we were geographically very close. So we would sometimes meet at the George Washington campus if we were in a group together or just to talk over some things.

So because it’s online I wouldn’t say it’s completely limited. You do have if you’re – again you’re – you’re lucky enough to be within the area where the campus is. But you absolutely have – I mean I utilized the career centre. I still use the alumni for hiring for my current firm.

So I – I would say you – I think I did ask if you were allowed to attend a class in person and they said I could do that. I actually never did it. But I felt the experience was great to be able to be located close to the campus and even though I was on a completely online program I was able to utilize all the resources as if I was attending brick and mortar classes.

Annie: Thank you, Chris. And for Michael who raised the question about voluntary attending class on campus, we had another discussion a couple of months ago with another graduate who did take up that opportunity. So if anything [unintelligible 00:50:55] I can follow-up with you just to share that – that discussion [unintelligible 00:50:59] and get a sense of that experience and how that would [unintelligible 00:51:02].

And I know a lot of questions have already been posted on Q&A and thank you to all the graduates for – for answering most of them already.

And I know some of the questions were about cost and – and admissions and all that kind of stuff as well. And I think that – given the fact that the graduates are here on the call out of their busy schedule, I really want to focus on their experience from the program and all the costs and admission questions I will defer to advisors that follow-up with you after this webinar if you guys don’t mind.

And I mean I know like we didn’t set like a complete timeframe for this webinar, but it is getting close to two o’clock eastern timeframe. And just before we wrap up in terms of discussions and stuff like that, for the graduates I really want to – I – this is always top of mind for everyone who are considering the program. If you have anything to share in terms of how since graduating from the Healthcare MBA how has it positively impacted your – your career or your life overall. If you guys can comment on that that would be great.

Julie: As I had mentioned, this is Julie. As I had mentioned earlier, I completely changed jobs. I closed my private practice. I think it would have been very sad if I hadn’t been in private practice, but the stress of the – the hours, a beeper 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

I typically just took one week of vacation in the summer and part of the spring break. I – I missed one of my children’s confirmations. My husband would go to a half a field hockey game and half of a lacrosse game and half of a baseball game because he’d be trying to get to everybody’s sporting events.

And, you know, I loved what I did but I was definitely tied to my job. And I think doing the MBA, getting that additional information I learned more about healthcare. I learned about myself.

As Chris has said, I took what I learned and applied it to my time management, my decision making. And made a decision to continue to do obstetrics but in a completely different forum.

And as a hospitalist, you know, I do 24-hour shifts. People are horrified. Not realizing that I did much more than that in private practice. I would work all day and all night and all the next day.

Now I work hard. I take care of women who don’t have physicians, women who belong to other practices that we’re covering. I see patients in the hospital, consult, emergency room.

I work hard, but, you know, this morning came. I gave report. I gave my phone to the physician coming on. I spend much more time with my children the very first year after I made this change. I took spring break with the child in high school, spring break with the child in college, spring break with the child in middle school. I took three different spring breaks.

I took a spring break with each child. So I definitely have, you know, more time off.

I would say I’ve had an increase in my salary because of my job and no overhead and no employees. So I have more time, more money. I think my family’s happier. The dogs are happier. Everybody’s happier because I’m at home more.

So it has definitely changed my – my job, my career. I can continue to do this job longer than I probably would have continued in medicine and solo practice.

Chris: Yeah. And I – I was actually similar to that situation. I was going through a career transition when I was in the program. It absolutely helped me with making that transition. It had a large impact on kind of driving me towards figuring out what I wanted to do with my career. And I would absolutely say it helped open some doors.

I think having – someone had mentioned earlier about the reputation of the George Washington University and their business school. Also having that focus on healthcare.

And, you know, like I’ve mentioned a couple of times being locally in the area, being able to connect with other alumni and – and create that network whether even some of the people I’ve met in my cohort throughout the country, we still keep in touch.

So I think it – it’s absolutely done wonders for not just my career advancement but in creating a strong network both locally and nationally and continuing to use the – the applications learned and applied or have learned and understood from the program and – and using that in my kind of day-to-day work has been fantastic.

Kimberley: And I would second that as well. I think what Chris and what Julie said. It definitely has a positive impact on salary.

I did see someone ask questions about the cost. And I would say the program is – you know, there is some cost to it. It’s not an inexpensive program. But you have to consider what you’re paying for and what you think you’ll get out of it.

And I would say for me it definitely was worth the cost. So my salary was impacted positively.

Also another thing that I think is very important I think for, you know, there’s people in the – the program that’s administrators. There’s people in the program that’s clinicians. And I think one of the things also that’s so great about this program is because you do have that mix. It gives you more perspective.

And I think that administrators are more able to deal with physicians and physicians are more easily able to deal with administrators because you’re all in it together. And I think you kind of – it kind of levels the playing field in a – in a sense that you’re on projects, you know, with people and you get to gain a perspective from each side of it.

I think sometimes a lot of organizations it seems like, you know, physicians are pitted against administrators. And there’s that disconnect.

I think this program because you, you know, gain lifelong friends that are physicians and administrators, you get to see each other’s perspective. And I think that makes for better orgAnniezations when you have to go out in the work field and work with physicians and you understand where they’re coming from as – as, you know, clinical providers and they understand where you’re coming from – from the business side of it.

So I think those are things that you can’t put a price tag on. And I think those are things that have impacted my career positively beyond measure. So I would definitely recommend this program.

Christopher: I guess I would just say that, you know, I’d – I’d agree with everything. I did – I did not change careers. But I do think, you know, I’m much more comfortable in the decision making process now. I’ve taken on some added responsibilities. I’m the medical director for a stroke program. And I’m on the operations board for clinical integrated network, which is really an up and coming project.

And, you know, financially it has impacted me still. You know, to make smarter decisions. It’s interesting everybody’s always looking for the, you know, the homerun and – and the really smart decision that – that can impact you financially. But the other – the other side of the coin there’s a lot of opportunities running in medical practice to make really dumb decisions that end up costing you a lot of money too.

And many ways it’s just as important to avoid those bad decisions as it is to make good decisions. And – and I think that’s the case in all of those areas I think it’s impacted my – my life and my practice significantly.

Annie: Thank you. Very well said.

Is there any – I know there’s a lot of – a few more questions. And I do want to address that. I think there was a comment about if this is only for MDs. And I think – and I think just having our panellists here goes to show how diverse the program is in terms of the – the students in our program.

And – and I think it – that’s kind of also the beauty of it where you – you will be studying with folks from different aspects of – of healthcare. And I don’t know if the graduates can comment or if you guys have time to comment on how – how it has been working with other students during your time in the program.

Kimberly: Well, as I stated for me, I’ve gained lifelong friends from this program. You know, friends from, you know, across the country that I wouldn’t have otherwise connected with.

And again like I said, me coming from the administration side of it working with, you know, physicians and getting their perspectives and especially when you’re in group work, you know, you get to really all come together integrate ideas and, you know, exchange dialogue. And so you can’t put a price tag on what you’ll receive from working with people because you – you do gain perspective.

And it’s very diverse. So you walk away really with a – like I said, you – when you’ve been in healthcare for a long time you almost kind of feel like there’s, you know, probably nothing more that I’m – I’m going to learn if anything I would just add to it.

But that was the exact opposite in my experience. I walked away really surprised at how much I thought I knew that I didn’t know. So I really gained a whole lot from it.

And again like I said, lifelong, you know, friends and colleagues that I would have never met otherwise.

Julie: Yeah, I think Kim answered it just perfectly. I – I think that it’s, you know, not a program that’s just physicians, just nurses, just administration. And that everybody brings something different to the table. And I think as physicians sometimes we are guilty of being in our own little world and our own little bubble.

And, you know, looking at the administration as the enemy because they’re the one making decisions about equipment or jobs or hiring or firing. And I think you learn so much about other people’s jobs and – and what you can bring and what they bring. And – and working together in the independent projects.

And then having people that you can call on later, lifelong friends, lifelong acquaintances. You know, I was working with a physician at the time who had I had known, he had moved to another program.

He’s actually become a chairman at a program that I work with. And I think he felt that in order for him to progress further he needed to get his MBA to be a better candidate to become a department chair.

So I – I think you learn so much from the other people in the program. And you hope that you contribute to them too.

Chris: Yeah, I – I would reiterate what everyone has shared. The working with the other students in the program was fantastic. I’ve – I have some people that we now have partnerships based off of the fact that we were in the program together that I now do business with the company that they work at. Or we meet and just talk through kind of what’s going on in the industry, some of the things we’re seeing, trends.

So I thought it was – it was amazing going through. And like I said, there’s – there’s been a lot of connections while we were in school and even afterwards staying in touch through the alumni program with people that were in different years in the program than I was in. And being able to connect with them has – has been great.

Christopher: I just agree with everybody else.

Annie: Thank you, Chris – both Chris. And – and with that I know we’re already running over time. And I want to again thank everyone for being here today for the webinar. And obviously to the graduates for taking the time to speaking with us and sharing their perspective.