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The George Washington University
Tell us about yourself.
My name is Leonard Caputo. I just completed a Healthcare MBA here at George Washington University. I took the Healthcare MBA program for a variety of reasons. Most importantly, for me, at this point in my life was simply for professional development. I had a few original ideas of what I wanted to do with them. Many of them have changed over the two years that it’s been to complete the program, but it was for professional development.
What are your goals now that you have completed your program?
I very much want to participate in the forum of healthcare reform. I believe it’s instrumental that physicians and physician executives train themselves, prepare themselves to contribute to our nation, in corporate responsibility for the era of healthcare reform.
What surprised you the most about online learning?
I was very surprised with online learning with the IT curve. There were many of us who grew up and trained without the internet. And it was very challenging to learn products like Excel and do all of my finance reports in Excel and papers. Many term papers were all written obviously in Word, but exchanging those Word documents amongst fellow classmates when group work was required. So it, for me, was a tremendous IT learning curve, with the online Healthcare program. But without the internet, there would have been no way that at this point in life, after fifteen years of surgical private practice that I could ever go back to a major university.
How did you find the interaction between fellow students and faculty?
I found the online interaction with students and faculty to be very amazing. I thought it would be very sterile, and it actually was not. There was a variety of interactions, firstly, with classmates. Some of them were personal, one on one. They were usually via e-mail. At times some would give us a phone number or call me here, this time and date on a Sunday and we would help each other with homework on the weekends via telephone or Skype. Skype did work very well for group work. And the online Healthcare MBA program does require a variety of papers written with group work.
The faculty was very interesting. And I enjoyed that immensely. Some of the faculty I have already forgotten but some very much stand out. And they were individuals who literally cared enough on Sundays and Saturdays to help walk you through places like the Gelman Library to do research articles and papers, because it’s not that easy navigating a library from 3000 miles away on the internet. Many times professors would call if you gave them your phone number and set up a time and a date. And my hat very much went off to those individuals because time is precious.
What have you told friends and colleagues about this program?
A variety of friends and colleagues have asked me about the online learning experience. And it is what I would recommend is that they are very familiar with the internet, with Microsoft Office Suite. Once that learning curve is achieved, stay in touch with your professors and your classmates. It’s not that easy via e-mail, all the while, but that is what society it’s an electronic society, it’s a high-speed communication mode between many of us, and that includes a lot of group work. What I would advise someone going through or considering an online upper division learning experience is to take it very seriously.
What is your favorite class in the program?
One of the most important and enjoyable and productive courses that I had been healthcare policy and healthcare reform. And I did an extra elective in that also. These were instructors who applied here and now, in real time, the era of healthcare reform that’s upon us, with the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act that is so intimately related to the practice of American medicine. It is imperative that physician executives understand what healthcare reform is, what brought it about and where it potentially may go. Whether our current president is re-elected, whether the public law is repealed, it is far beyond repeal, the outstretched arms of the concept of healthcare reform that will occur in this nation. Those were my favorite classes, because I ultimately concluded that at this point in my life and this point in my surgical career American healthcare reform is something that I am adamantly dedicated to be a part of.
How do you balance work, school and other obligations?
Balancing work, family and school obligations in the program was a miraculous juggle. But if one has a commitment and a goal, one will meet that. Thankfully, as a private practice general surgeon I was able to tailor my surgical office and my hours and my elective surgeries not all of my emergency room call surgeries, but I had to markedly truncate my surgical practice. When I originally looked into this program through GW it was solicited to me by the American College of Surgeons. I’m a fellow of the American College. And it was to advertise, literally, the advent of the physician executive. I would recommend to students considering this, or any professional considering an online experience, to devote the time. They must have the family support, the social, work support and their commitment to finish within two years.
How much interaction did you have with fellow students and faculty?
I found that the interaction between students, fellow students within the program was actually very good. And there were some students that you wound because there were discussion panels, discussion boards where you would have to post comments, questions and answer a variety of questions that the professor would put out to the class. And there were many postings of fellow classmates that you or I would enjoy reading much more than others. They were very thought provoking. One could tell that they were not just opinion but they were a critical analysis based on facts, and citations and works. And so those students we would gravitate a bit more together and we would communicate via e-mail. Before you knew it, e-mails yielded a phone call and phone calls yielded many phone calls. And so although it was a remote experience for some of us I became very … very close friends and classmates with fellow physicians in New Jersey, Arizona, I’m in California, others in Virginia, others in Portland, Oregon. It was a tremendous experience.
How has this prepared you for the current change in the healthcare industry?
The healthcare industry, as I see it, as a practicing physician, is undergoing a tremendous revolutionary change. This is on the order of the advent of social security, and under Roosevelt, it’s under the umbrella of the advent of Medicare, with Lyndon B. Johnson. All of the healthcare reform initiatives that our nation has to face; they’re driven by the bending of the cost curve. It is very important to understand that it is being driven by the cost curve. And only physicians and healthcare practitioners will be able to understand how their practices can change to help bend the cost curve. But we must have public policy and reform legislation to help us bend that cost curve and to contain it in order to make healthcare for all Americans sustainable, both financially and practicably.