“One of the pieces I’ve seen many students under-appreciate is that good strategy and leadership is also about persuasion and communication," said Saxton.

Sometimes it doesn’t matter how good your ideas are if you can’t articulate them and get the audience excited about them.

Todd Saxton, associate professor of strategy and entrepreneurship

“The Kelley Physician MBAs had to do more than just come up with good ideas and strategic initiatives; they had to sell them to the company, me and their classmates. Learning to package and sell their ideas as part of being change agents for their own organizations is an important lesson as well,” added Saxton.

Kelley Physician MBA Experience

“For me, it was really useful to begin to understand how much I’ve learned in these business courses," said Tom Gallen, MD, MBA'17. Gallen is the assistant medical director of anesthesiology at IU Health Arnett Hospital.

I’m able to view the world as a different place and to take the individual lessons and integrate them in a useful way to create a series of answers I think are meaningful.

Tom Gallen, MD, MBA’17

“This experience was certainly meaningful to me and, I believe, also meaningful to the company, as we worked to determine the company’s overall direction and the rationale for it," explained Gallen.

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Todd Saxton and representatives from local life sciences companies listen to recommendations from physician MBA students.

“We’ve learned a lot over the past year, and through this experience, we got to apply it. When applying knowledge, you learn a lot that you hadn’t thought about before while learning from a textbook. This will be very helpful for the future,” said Urs von Holzen, MD, MBA’17, who is the director of thoracic oncology at the IU Health Goshen Center for Cancer Care.

It’s a course the physician MBAs say doesn’t begin without some trepidation.

“When I started the program, the second year students were doing this—taking a company, dissecting it, considering where they should go and making recommendations. I thought, ‘That sounds terrifying! Where do you even start?’” joked Gallen.

“But as time goes on,” he added, “you’re able to take this very general question and hone it down into a series of finer questions. You use the tools and methods you’ve learned, in order to discover answers, and then you’re able to take those answers and coalesce them into a larger picture to answer the original question.”

“The course culminated in a great deal of certainty about what I’ve learned and what I’ve gained from this program,” Gallen said. “I now think about problems in a better, more influential way. That is the most valuable part to me. Recognizing that individual classes and individual lessons and individual tools were more than individual parts. They were synergistic in allowing you to create a better process or make a better decision.”

The benefits of the Integrative Experience extend beyond the physician MBA students themselves. Both Helmer Scientific and Springbuk, local life sciences companies, received critical feedback.

We have found our work with the physician MBA cohorts to be very thought provoking.

Bruce King, CEO of Helmer Scientific

“I found it especially helpful that we got to work with a real company. This wasn’t just an exercise in a classroom. We interacted with people who are really passionate about their procedures and their products. Interacting with the CEO of that company was a great experience,” said von Holzen.

Gallen says he believes the learning extends beyond the hospital or healthcare organization in which the Kelley Physician MBAs work.

“There’s no question to me that the majority of the information you learn in this course can be applied not just in your professional life, but in your personal life. It helps you understand the world as it is, rather than how you want it to be. It does that by giving you the tools to understand how other people see it and by showing you a wider viewpoint that allows you to focus differently—to see the world as it actually is.”