By Kara Sherrer
Over fall break at Owen, students donned scrubs and observed operating rooms and emergency departments. No, they weren’t physicians-in-training — they’re MBA students interested in the healthcare concentration at Vanderbilt Business.
Since healthcare is such a complex industry, every fall the school puts on a week-long boot camp designed to get the MBAs up to speed and give them a taste of the industry. Throughout the week, students shadow doctors and nurses, visit healthcare facilities and companies, and listen to leaders from healthcare organizations large and small. Below are three MBAs’ reflections on the experience.
Shane Sloan (MBA’19)
I came to Owen with nine years in software development. My career had plateaued; director-level positions were not being offered to those without MBAs. I wanted to move into leadership in technology, and I came to Vanderbilt Business to get a world-class MBA. I love technology and plan to stay in it — so why Healthcare Immersion Week?
I knew I would be staying in Nashville, and many technology companies here serve the healthcare industry, so I needed to ramp up quicky. I expected to learn a lot, and I did. What I did not expect was the depth and wealth of information presented during the Healthcare Immersion Week. For example, did you know Vanderbilt Children’s Emergency Department has to carry over four times as many SKUs as the adult ED because it must accommodate sizes from infant to adult?
Throughout the week, CEOs from every part of the industry spoke. CFOs broke down the revenue cycle. Disrupters openly explained their business models and why they would bring change to the industry. I made personal connections with several executives and continue to speak with them today. There is no other school that offers this kind of access and in-person learning experience for healthcare.
Healthcare Immersion has been nothing less than transformative. Anyone looking to work in healthcare or serve healthcare companies should take this program. You’ll gain the ability to speak intelligibly about challenges in the industry from regulation to finances, operations, and more. You might make a connection with an industry leader or two. And you will definitely feel more prepared to be a healthcare leader. —Shane Sloan
Sumehda Niranjan (MBA’20)
Healthcare is a very complex and dynamic industry. Prior to attending Owen, I worked on the provider and payer side for nearly six years. I knew that attending Healthcare Immersion Week would not only be a valuable way to jumpstart my time at Owen, but also provide an opportunity to gain exposure to the different conversations taking place in the industry.
Healthcare Immersion week took what I thought I knew about healthcare and knocked down each of my preconceived notions one by one in the best way possible. The Owen healthcare team curated an exceptional line-up of speakers, companies, and observational opportunities, covering the bases of provider, payer, health technology, ambulatory surgery, home health, and hospice. Healthcare Immersion week is unlike any experience one could ever hope for so early on in their career as it is rare to interact so closely with some of the country’s leading healthcare executives over the course of a few days! My peers and I were challenged to engage with our speakers on a whole new level, probe them about healthcare’s most pressing issues, and identify new ways to change the future of the U.S. healthcare system.
In particular, my favorite part about Healthcare Immersion week was visiting Vanderbilt University’s Medical Center, where I got to observe a Tympanomastoidectomy (eardrum surgery), shadow an attending physician in the emergency department, and converse with physicians and clinicians to understand their clinical workflow. Through these experiences, I was able to identify some of the business complexities that take place in an acute care setting. Other noteworthy highlights from the week included meeting with the executive team from two healthcare provider systems based in Nashville, learning about the expanding business of home health, and hearing from a few companies about how they are trying to alter the health insurance space.
For anyone looking to pursue a healthcare concentration at Owen, I highly recommend participating in Healthcare Immersion Week! It was not only an eye-opening and interactive experience, but also the perfect foundation for Professor Larry Van Horn’s Healthcare Economics & Policy course in Mod 2. —Sumedha Niranjan
Nick Dason (MBA’20)
Healthcare Immersion Week was a major recruiting tool that drew me to Owen, and it did not disappoint. As an Army Veteran with no healthcare experience, I truly enjoyed all the opportunities that were provided to us throughout the week.
We got to talk directly with multiple CEOs, not only from major players in the healthcare space (Amedisys, HCA, LifePoint, CHS) but also from startups that are on the forefront of healthcare innovation (MDSave, Contessa, CleanSlate). Additionally, shadowing a nurse in the burn intensive care unit and doctors in the emergency department and operating room provided an amazing perspective of what healthcare providers experience daily, as did visiting Vanderbilt LifeFlight, AMSURG, and DaVita.
The week-long program — developed by Larry Van Horn, Burch Wood, and Scarlett Gilfus —exposed us to all segments of healthcare and gave me a strong foundation on the basics of healthcare. Healthcare Immersion was easily one of the most informative and value-added weeks I have had in any educational experience. —Nick Dason