Kyla Terhune
Vanderbilt Executive MBA | 2016
Chief of General Surgery,
Veteran’s Administration Hospital

Everyone’s busy. Here’s an example of how one of our Executive MBA students fit it all in. Meet Kyla Terhune.

As a surgeon—and program director for the general surgery residency program at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and chief of general surgery at Nashville VA Hospital, and a mother of three children under 12 years old, and a resident adviser living under the same roof with undergraduates on campus—Dr. Terhune’s mornings generally began before daylight, with commitments on many weeknights.

How did she manage? Here’s a glimpse (based on her actual calendar) at two typical weeks.

Week 1


A good day to relax and be with family. Maybe I’ll have time for my readings. On Sunday nights we have meetings in the residence hall with the student R.A.s. Then it’s time to read the kids a bedtime story and get to sleep!

The program enabled me to maintain my priorities and learn as much as I could to apply to my work during the week. My children always felt welcome at Owen and they appreciated learning right along with me.


I’m an early riser. We have administrative meetings all morning at the hospital, and then patient cases the rest of the day. I’m done between 5 and 6 PM Then it’s back to the residence hall for a program we run for students. Later tonight, I’ll work on our reading assignments. I try to make some time for the readings nearly every day.


I try to schedule meetings a 
bit later on these mornings so I can alternate driving my kids to school. I’ll read a case during lunch, follow up on an open email thread with my C-Team or check out an article someone else has shared. I’ll be home by 5:00 PM and have an evening call with Japan around 8:30 PM before working on school assignments again.


I’m in surgery all day at the VA, starting at 6:30 AM. On Wednesday evenings, I have a bit of time for myself when my husband takes the children to church. I’ll use some of that time for reading or classwork.


Thursday is our C-Team night. I reserve a room at The Commons (the residence hall where we live), and we meet for several hours. During the week, we use GroupMe (a group texting app) to stay in touch and keep projects moving. This is our time to make sure we’re ready for Saturday.


I focus on ending the workweek strong and set aside that night strictly for family.


Class day. I arrive at 7:30 AM to have breakfast with my classmates before our first class begins at 7:50 AM. We enjoy riveting discussions, and before we know it, it’s time for lunch. I’ll sit with my C-Team to prepare for our afternoon presentation. After class, some classmates head out for drinks, but it’s time for me to go reconnect with family, so I head home for the evening.

Week 2


At the VA we have clinical conferences to discuss cases. The first is at 7 AM Then I move into the VA clinics. I have a work-related dinner from 6 to 8 PM tonight (fairly typical). After my meeting, it’s home to the kids and bedtime.


I see Vanderbilt clinic patients starting at 8 AM with meetings in the afternoon. Our C-Team meets again tonight at The Commons. Two members of our team recently had babies, and another got married. We are all pretty busy.


Grand rounds at Vanderbilt start at 7 AM. Friday is family night, when we invite students into our home. Getting our children to bed is the biggest event of each evening—usually between 8 and 8:30 PM. That’s my priority after I get home. I lie down and read to them. Sometimes, I conk out, too. If I have reading for class to catch up on, I’ll get back up.


On alternating Saturdays, when we don’t have class, more often than not I’m on call at the hospital. So I stay close by. But it also means I might get to be with family more and have a chance to work on my reading.