The Residency-MBA: An Innovative Choice for Physician Leaders
by Luke Neill MD and Kumar Gandhi MD MPH, both E&W 2021
We had no warning. The car screeched to a halt outside the trauma bay, three patients fell out onto the cold pavement, and in seconds the car was barely visible in the distance. We quickly assessed the scene. They were teenagers, ages 14, 16, and 18. All were victims of a drive-by shooting in West Garfield Park and all had extensive penetrating trauma from gunshot wounds. The head surgeon of our trauma team was in the operating room and was unavailable. As senior residents, we were now first in command. We knew the actions taken in the coming minutes would determine whether these patients lived or died.
Thankfully, we came prepared. Since day one of orientation, we have had personalized leadership training from Kellogg Professor Bernie Banks, a previous Army Brigadier General and head of West Point’s Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership. As Professor Banks emphasized, we needed to use intentionality as leaders during this tragedy. Through the use of execution, relentless communication, and openness to new information we were able to save the lives of these three young men.
Within graduate medical training, resident physicians in all specialties typically do not undergo formal leadership training. However, the existing model of experiential learning often exposes residents to roles requiring them to lead teams in order to provide the best in patient care. This is in juxtaposition to the countless years spent studying core fundamentals of medicine while in medical school and graduate medical education training. When formalized leadership training is implemented correctly, the result is something truly unique.
What made you both pursue a Kellogg MBA while in residency?
Since beginning residency, we have worked with Kellogg leadership to create a one-of-a-kind program specifically for residents and fellows doing their medical training at Northwestern. The Kellogg MBA Program for McGaw residents and fellows is a combined residency-MBA program. All McGaw GME trainees across various specialties can partake in advanced leadership training without interruption of their medical education. This program pairs the Evening & Weekend MBA program at the Kellogg School of Management with rigorous medical training through the McGaw Medical Center of Northwestern University. Participants in the program partake in accelerated MBA coursework throughout their residency or fellowship without interruption of their training. Through a collaborative approach, learning alongside supportive peers, participants in the residency-MBA program elevate their leadership development and deepen their understanding of emerging topics and challenges facing healthcare organizations.
Why complete the MBA in residency instead of medical school?
Moving the MBA from medical school to residency training creates optimal value by allowing the application of newly learned skills into practice in real time. Leadership training throughout graduate medical education will not only empower physician trainees to be change agents within their healthcare system but also enable physicians to be the future leaders of healthcare in the United States.
What have you gained so far since starting the program?
The program has already helped us greatly in honing our leadership skills. We are coming to class with real healthcare issues from the Emergency Department and are receiving thoughtful solutions through the lens of classmates and professors outside of the healthcare realm. Also, approaching challenging topics such as strategy, negotiation, leadership, and organizations through case-based learning has provided a management foundation upon which to propel our future careers. Since starting the program, we have both already been utilizing our newly acquired leadership and change management skill set to drive institutional changes in improving quality health metrics and implementing best practices in our own department. Through the understanding of both medicine and healthcare management, we are becoming a true bridge between both physicians and management. We know that this will help to drastically reduce miscommunication and foster long-standing partnership between these entities.
What are your hopes for The Kellogg Evening & Weekend MBA Program for McGaw Residents and Fellows?
Since its inception just six months ago, the program has already grown tremendously. We hope the Kellogg Residency MBA will become the preeminent program in training healthcare leaders across the nation as well as a model for leadership training in graduate medical education across the country.