Our Stories

Getting in the Room Where Decisions Are Made

Army doctor prepares for transition to civilian medical career with the MMHC

Ijagha Eme MD
Officer in Charge/Medical Director, Colonel Florence A. Blanchfield Army

Vanderbilt MM Health Care 2021

When Dr. Ijagha Eme, Sr. joined the Vanderbilt MMHC program, he wasn’t just employed—he was deployed. An Army Major, he is the Officer in Charge of GOLD Army Community Hospital at Fort Campbell, an outpatient clinic that treats active-duty military personnel, veterans who served at least 20 years, and their families.

“I have always wanted to learn the business of healthcare because I want to be in the room where decisions that affect physicians and our patients are made,” Dr. Eme says. Drawn to the strength of the Vanderbilt name, he concluded that the MMHC was a better choice for him than an MBA “because it was focused on healthcare and was time-friendly and timely—getting my degree in a year was a no-brainer.”

The choice became even easier when Vanderbilt awarded him a scholarship and was willing to accommodate his needs as a deployed officer. Offering the program during a pandemic year meant that Vanderbilt needed to make other special accommodations, too. But in Dr. Eme’s eyes, Zoom classes did not diminish the sense of community or personal scale. “The fact that we were virtual the whole time and I still feel like I know my classmates on a personal level is very satisfying,” he says.

As he completed the program, he was also preparing to transition from active duty to the National Guard—and getting ready to seek a new position in the civilian world. “My experience in this program has encouraged me to be bold with my next job,” says Dr. Eme, who accepted an offer to become Medical Director of the Trevecca Center for Rehabilitation and Healing. “This is a job I probably wouldn’t have considered if not for the confidence that the program has instilled in me, that I can go directly from the Army—where you are ‘volun-told’ to be in leadership positions—to actually having companies seek me out to help run their organizations.”

My experience in this program has encouraged me to be bold with my next job.