If the coronavirus pandemic has shed light on anything over the past two years, it’s the importance of healthcare and healthcare leadership. To keep up with a constantly evolving (and disrupted) landscape — and to make meaningful change in the industry — aspiring leaders in the healthcare field must acquire the right skills, knowledge, and competencies.
With its Executive MBA/MS in Healthcare Leadership program, Cornell University aims to be the first choice of potential applicants. The 22-month, dual-degree program, offered in partnership between Cornell SC Johnson College of Business and the Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences, is the only Ivy league, industry-immersive program of its kind. With intimate cohorts of 50 to 60 students, the Class of 2022 — Cornell’s fourth graduating class — is made up of not only doctors but also non-clinicians in the healthcare field, including medical directors, pediatric anesthesiologists, perinatal service directors, program officers, finance VPs, clinical trial leaders, and aspiring CEOs.
“This is a very carefully constructed program that thinks about what we’re doing in healthcare from a business perspective, and brings a business perspective when analyzing healthcare,” says Mark Nelson, professor of accounting and dean of SC Johnson College of Business.
A TEAM-BASED APPROACH TO LEARNING
After noticing an increasing number of healthcare professionals were getting both an MBA as well as a healthcare-related graduate degree, Cornell created a program that combined two degrees in one. The program launched in 2017, with the first class graduating in 2019.
“We realized that having a carefully curated, dual-degree program that focused on business and healthcare would be a huge value add for students,” says Nelson. “Given the strength and breadth of Cornell, we thought we could come up with something truly unique and integrated.”
With a team-based curriculum, the idea is to bring healthcare industry professionals together to learn cross-functionally. “The wealth of experience among students in each classroom is remarkable,” adds Nelson. “In this team-based environment, we want to help students create relationships and networks that will continue long past graduation.”
Dr. Geraldine McGinty, faculty course director and senior associate dean for clinical affairs at Weill Cornell Medicine, believes that this collaborative approach ensures students will get diverse perspectives. “We need to be intentional about inclusion and empowerment of diverse perspectives, which requires empathy and understanding of the lived experiences that team members bring to the discussion,” she says. “Healthcare has traditionally been quite hierarchical, especially on the delivery side. We’re actively trying to move toward a more team-based approach and to ensure that those teams are diverse.”
HEALTHCARE LEADERSHIP – DURING A PANDEMIC
In such a turbulent time, there may be no better time to study healthcare leadership, Dr. McGinty says.
“More than ever, we are critically examining what it means to be an effective healthcare leader,” she says. “We have learned invaluable lessons during the pandemic about the importance of effective communication and the dangers of a lack of transparency. Being able to make decisions in the face of incomplete information and communicate through uncertainty when things are rapidly evolving is the mark of a truly effective leader.”
Franklin Chiao, Cornell EMBA/MS in healthcare leadership student, says that the diverse set of classmates is one of the best parts about the program. “The coursework is significant at times. The abundance of knowledge that teammates share makes the learning that much greater,” he says.
“I cannot say enough about my classmates,” adds Mahek A. Shah, another member of the Class of 2022. “They are some of the most driven individuals I’ve ever met. They made the virtual classroom experience memorable and manageable over Zoom our first year by sharing their own professional insights and debating many business decisions.”
Next page: 7 in-depth profiles of EMBA/MS in Healthcare Leadership students