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For Dr. Exil, new skills mean new possibilities

Vernat Exil
Professor of Pediatrics / Pediatric Cardiology at the University of Iowa

Vanderbilt Global Executive MBA 2013

For 13 years, Dr. Vernat Exil had worked as a pediatric cardiologist at Vanderbilt’s Children’s Hospital. In that role, he had treated heart failure among the young. He performed heart transplants in children. And he taught aspiring physicians at the School of Medicine.

Important as those responsibilities remained, Vernat decided he wanted to broaden his world.

Specifically, he says, “I wanted to broaden my management skills and to gain insight into how to provide health care more efficiently for less.” The Global Executive MBA program just down the street at Owen provided a means to achieve both of those goals. Given his interest in global health and healthcare management — and his prior experience working as a doctor of medicine in Panama in the early 1980s — the program at Vanderbilt seemed a natural fit.

Along with traveling to Brazil, Mexico and Canada, Vernat also expanded his horizons through an inward journey — what he calls “managing self.” The Leadership Development Program, he explains, “helped me change my approach. It helped me develop a constant awareness of self in my approach to patients, in meetings, and in my interactions with colleagues.”

In joining the program, Dr. Exil was also acting on a desire to “provide health care relief” for Latin America. “A classroom of international students with broad business interests and diverse cultures was, for me, a reflection of the office of the future,” he says. “The opportunity to work in a team with individuals from four different cultural and language backgrounds was a classroom in itself. After this experience, I am more prepared to consider work that is international in nature.”

He broadened his world in other ways, too. In 2014, Vernat left Vanderbilt to become Chief of Pediatric Cardiology at the University of New Mexico. In 2018, he became a Professor of Pediatrics and Pediatric Cardiology at the University of Iowa.

Before enrolling Vernat says, “It was hard for me to see new possibilities or other potential uses of my medical skills. Now, I have new interests in medical innovation and consulting — and I have new options.”

“The opportunity to work in a team with individuals from four different cultural and language backgrounds was a classroom in itself. After this experience, I am more prepared to consider work that is international in nature.”