Pediatrician uses Kelley Physician MBA to earn executive position and improve system processes

Pediatrician Autumn Orser, MD, MBA’19, was participating in a CMS initiative in Colorado when she realized she wanted to pursue an MBA. Her state’s State Innovation Model helps primary care physicians promote practice transformation and payment reform, and it was a revelation for Dr. Orser.

“I quickly realized that if I was going to be a change agent in healthcare - and really participate in its transformation - I needed a better understanding of the business of medicine,” she said.

Dr. Orser enrolled in the Business of Medicine Physician MBA Program at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business. Although based in Indianapolis, nearly 1100 miles away from Colorado Springs where she was director of medical services for Peak Vista Community Health Centers, Dr. Orser decided the online and in-residency hybrid format of the rigorous program met her needs.

“I chose Kelley because of its hybrid learning model that gave me the ability to learn content online and asynchronously in the midst of a very demanding schedule,” she said. “Plus, the monthly residency sessions brought together a fantastic group of students from across the country with outstanding Kelley faculty to solidify the material.”

Dr. Orser has already made an impact, less than a year after graduating from the program. She has been featured in the 2019 Poets & Quants Executive MBA Best and Brightest list and she earned the role of Peak Vista’s vice president of medical services, a position, she says, the Kelley Physician MBA helped her achieve.

“With the business acumen and skills gained during my MBA, I was able to successfully run the largest health center in our system, which primed me for the opportunity to take on the new role of vice president,” she said. “My Kelley MBA set me apart from the other candidates. The selection committee recognized that my MBA allows me to bring substantial value to the table beyond my innate skills and abilities.”

Dr. Orser oversees health centers in four counties in Colorado. She says she regularly employs learnings from her MBA to her job. From leadership interactions with large groups to negotiating resources among competing priorities, she can draw a line from the Kelley Physician MBA curriculum to daily applications.

“I ask for cost-benefit analyses when projects are being suggested. I've had to run ROIs on more than one occasion, and I'm constantly looking at ways to improve efficiency and use data to drive change,” she said. “When looking at staffing models, I look at the unemployment rate, which helps me determine how difficult it will be to fill certain positions. What I've learned through the Kelley Physician MBA Program permeates all that I do.”

Dr. Orser didn’t have to wait until after graduation to begin using her new business skills. During one project, Dr. Orser employed Lean Six Sigma process-improvement principles to overhaul her system’s immunization documentation process, leading to fewer errors, increased team-member satisfaction and potential cost-savings of more than $100,000.

“I incorporated principles from multiple MBA courses while working on this process-improvement project, including leadership, conflict resolution and negotiation, operations management and finance,” she said. “I even had to do my own return-on-investment estimates because a resource wasn’t readily available."

It was amazing to take lessons learned from the entire MBA program and make a difference in the way we deliver care to our patients.

Autumn Orser, MD, MBA’19