Physician MBAs gain global healthcare insight in Italy

Studying and reading about a healthcare system in another part of the world is one way to learn new methods and best practices, but to visit, tour and explore it firsthand truly creates a deeper, richer learning experience. Students in the Kelley School of Business Physician MBA Program recently had the opportunity to do both during the Global Healthcare Experience course, which took them to various healthcare institutions throughout Italy.

“The structure of this course allowed us to anticipate what we’d learn by studying the healthcare system of another country – in this case, Italy – and then provided on-site visits to complement that learning,” said Peter Nalin, MD, FAAFP (MBA’19), associate vice president of university Clinical Affairs at Indiana University School of Medicine and Associate Dean for Educational Expansion. “The course reflects a legitimate, logical construction to it. Prior students who’d experienced the international course said they found it very valuable, and I also found that to be the case.”

Physicians spent several weeks prior to the trip studying the Italian healthcare system – how it is structured, the political and cultural influences, how it differs from our own system or how it is similar. Then students took a nearly two-week trip to Italy, where visits, meetings, tours and cultural trips were planned for 18 students and their travel partners.

Fontana, Pizza Navone in Rome

“I saw this as an opportunity to learn and travel at the same time,” said Lisa Nolen, MD (MBA’19) chief medical officer of Heartland Women’s Healthcare of Southern Illinois. “Professor Reed Smith was absolutely amazing as my accounting instructor and I knew he would be teaching this iteration of the Global Healthcare Experience. I knew he had lived and taught in Rome and had unique insight into the culture. As expected, his guidance and teaching were exceptional!”

While in Italy, the group toured a pediatric hospital, the European Institute of Oncology and heard from officials from the Italian Ministry of Health.

“Their healthcare system is incredibly interesting,” said Pat Purcell, MD (MBA’18), a pediatrician from Louisville, Kentucky. “Anything I can learn about someone else’s healthcare system might be beneficial toward being a change leader in ours. The more we learn about someone else’s system, the better care we can provide for our patients.”

A second-year student, Dr. Purcell also completed the Global Healthcare Experience elective that traveled to Cuba in 2017. Being able to compare the two countries’ healthcare systems as an outsider provided unique insights, such as the more restricted access in communist Cuba, compared to more open opportunities to explore healthcare in Italy. The two countries also contrasted in available technology.

Anything I can learn about someone else’s healthcare system might be beneficial toward being a change leader in ours. The more we learn about someone else’s system, the better care we can provide for our patients.

Dr. Pat Purcell, MD, MBA'18