New EMBA for physicians program off to a healthy start

February 29, 2016

physicians in the Heller EMBA listening to a lecture

Heller has a long history of providing executive education for physicians and the school has been offering a dual MD-MBA program with Tufts University School of Medicine for two decades. Several years ago, the founder of that program, Jon Chilingerian, saw an opportunity to train and educate experienced physicians in the new science of medicine and management.

Now 36 physicians from across the U.S. are making their mark in management as the inaugural group of doctors earning their Executive MBA through the Heller School. The 16-month program, which targets high-level physician leaders, combines online learning with on-site sessions and welcomed this first class to campus in January.

Student Dr. Mark Edney says the time together was, “without hyperbole, transformative. Our group of physicians bonded immediately. Within a couple of days, it became clear that we were privileged to be members of a unique, diverse, creative and incredibly insightful team of professionals who were embarking on an amazing journey together.”

This journey is guided by Chilingerian, who taught the physicians about leadership and organizations during the January session. His team includes a large number of other Heller faculty members, including former Heller Dean Stuart Altman, who taught the doctors about health policy, Brenda Anderson, who taught financial literacy skills, Christine Bishop, who taught health economics and Anita Tucker who taught operations management.

“Teaching these physicians while in residence and online is without a doubt one of the most exhilarating experiences I have had in my career,” Anderson says. “Each participant is passionately engaged and committed to acquiring the management skills necessary to be an effective clinician leader. I believe that this new EMBA program will quickly evolve as one of the many signature programs of the Heller School, showcasing, in yet one more way, our deep expertise in health care.”

physicians in the Heller EMBA listening to a lecture

Dr. Amir Taghinia says that distinguished reputation in health care was a primary factor that attracted him to the Heller program. “Furthermore, the special EMBA offered by Heller was for physicians and healthcare personnel only,” he explains. “As compared to a traditional EMBA, this one taught the subjects with a healthcare twist. I also felt that my interests would align much better with my classmates; we all speak the same language and understand each other much better.”

One of Taghinia’s fellow participants, Dr. Madeleine Biondollilo, also recognized Heller’s leadership in health care management and operations but says she was especially drawn to Heller and Brandeis University’s focus on social justice.

For EMBA Program Director Chilingerian, the myriad perspectives and motivations of each of the 36 physicians in this first cohort are “thought-provoking, energizing and fun. Although teaching runs to the heart of what we do as professors, a deeper satisfaction can occur when we are truly and honestly learning from our students in the classroom. As I listened to the conversations and when I read the post-class discussions posted in forums, I experienced one of my deepest and most profound learning moments as a professor.”

Another student, Dr. KMarie Reid, credits Chilingerian, Altman, Anderson, Bishop, Tucker and the other EMBA faculty for designing a program that’s “rich with value” for doctors. “The program is specifically targeted at physicians, which lends itself to a unique atmosphere of learning,” she says. “It has opened my inexperienced eyes to business perspectives pertaining to leadership, accounting, economics and operations management. It’s created opportunities for my personal growth and allowed for profound insights into the true meaning of leadership.”

Reid and her fellow physicians will be back on campus later this spring, but their required MBA and health care courses will continue online in the interim. There will also be team-consulting projects before the cohort graduates with their Executive MBA in May 2017.