Value of an MBA for Health Care Professionals

Matthew Pepper, MBA, Class of 2019

Getting an MBA was an unexpected leap for me. While I knew that my career as a physician meant a commitment to life-long learning, I had figured that my days on the student side of the classroom were behind me. Yet, after many years of clinical work, I found myself growing increasingly interested in the changing landscape of health care. Accountable care organizations, value-based care contracts, and health care analytics emerged as strategies in the struggle to create a better system; I knew there was a need for someone with a clinical perspective and a business background to guide these new innovations. As someone who always tried to put patients first, this seemed like a natural calling for me. I just didn’t know if I could handle going back to square one with school.

Once I was in the classroom at Fuqua, I never once regretted my decision. Classes like Health Care Markets with David Ridley helped broaden my perspective on US health care and explained the incentives in place that makes the system so complicated. These classes weren’t about memorizing content or taking tests, they were about learning how to critically evaluate the current environment and persuasively argue for how it can be made better. More than just reviewing how why some drug therapies can be so expensive, for example, lively classroom discussion focused on the pros and cons of different ways to tackle the problem. These classes enabled me to see how a career outside of directly providing healthcare could leverage my background and interests to impact the lives of millions of patients in a positive way.

Medical Device Strategy with Greg Davis also stretched my skills to new areas. Having no entrepreneurial background prior to starting at Fuqua, terms like “series D” and “pitch deck” were foreign to me. This course gave me the tools needed to critically evaluate health care start-ups and see their potential. In my current role in the diagnostics industry, I frequently need to evaluate new technologies and entrants in order to make recommendation on our company’s investment and growth.

Most of all, the HSM courses connected me to amazing classmates who had a broad range of experiences, who in turn have helped me succeed post-graduation. When I need to quick tutorials on IT solution implementation within health care, I know former electronic health record engineers to turn to. If I need a 10-minute overview on how pharmaceutical distribution works, I can call up former account representatives from different points in the supply chain. If I want talk to someone who analyzed medical claims for payers so I can develop better offerings for partners in value based contracts, I know where to go. It’s a support system that helps all of us succeed in our careers and would not have been possible for me without HSM.

Health care has been up-ended in many ways by the current pandemic. Even after we emerge in a post-COVID world, the industry’s rate of change will not slow. Thanks to the skills and the networks I picked up in HSM, I am ready to be a positive force for patients, no matter what comes.