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Bringing About Widespread Changes

Renowned surgeon learns to see differently

Sam Chang
Professor and Vice-Chair, Department of Urologic Surgery, Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt Executive MBA 2015

Dr. Sam Chang, a urologic surgeon, is at the top of his field. In 2012, he received the honor bestowed on the surgeon who has contributed the most to his or her field within 10 years of their training, in recognition of his work with cancer guidelines, patient care pathways and improvement in cancer staging.

At Vanderbilt, along with treating patients with urologic cancers and maintaining a busy research program, Dr. Chang oversees the fellowship program and is directly involved in teaching. Despite his achievements in his medical specialty, however, he believed he could do more. "I love patient care," he says, "but I wanted to consider how I can bring effective change for a larger group of patients."

Dr. Chang considered Executive MBA programs both locally and across the region. Vanderbilt was the hands-down winner. "There was no comparison," he says. "Vanderbilt combines high expectations with support so that you will not fail. And the faculty focus on the individual and on helping that person truly learn, not just get a good grade. The interaction with them has been unbelievable."

For example, he remembers Professor Bill Christie?s Finance class. ?"It's tough material for a surgeon," Dr. Chang says, "but he's an incredible teacher who makes you do the work and think about what the numbers mean." And he recalls the way Professor Mumin Kurtulus took "complex equations with complex issues and simplified them to improve process flow." Finally, he says, "Brian McCann's Strategy class integrated many of the classes we have taken and emphasized to me not only the importance of understanding all choices available for a decision, but also the ability to make the difficult decision."

In the end, Dr. Chang says, he came away with more than business knowledge. "I look at things differently now," he says. "I have a different sense of analysis. My perch to examine a problem has totally changed."