We worked throughout the semester and came up with a business proposal and an entire operations report on what we thought they should do. So that’s a very concrete and very real example of what I learned in the business school and how I can apply it to medicine and apply it to making patients lives better.
On the medical end, I got really involved in research. UT has this wonderful program called the Freshman Research Initiative, where the second semester of your freshman year you get the opportunity to work in a research lab. I ended up doing that, and I worked in a lab studying mitochondrial transporters in living organisms. Abnormalities in those proteins have been linked to birth defects and Alzheimer’s, so it was really interesting for me.
Pretty much all my work experience since then has been medicine related, but I did move up in Learn to Be, and now I’m on the Learn to Be board as the Director of Admissions. It’s really interesting because we have board meetings and we meet with all the executives and also all the local student chapters, so we get a perspective on how social entrepreneurship works in the business world. I tend to lean toward medical and research-based internships, but I also really value working at this not-for-profit company because of that perspective. We’re taught another way to see things and learn.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about combined MD/MBA programs. My immediate goal when I finish up training is to use my business and medical research skills together. I really want to develop a novel way to treat, for example, cancer, or some type of other disease, or develop a cheaper or more effective way to treat something like tuberculosis. I want to use my experience in business to start building my own company based on that, and hopefully leverage that into medical policy.
I second guess what I’m doing all the time though. One reason is just that it’s really difficult because the course load is intense. None of the courses overlap, so you know, when it’s three in the morning and I’m on my second cup of coffee, I always start to question those kinds of things.
And then there are certain classes – for example, I had to take a management information systems (MIS) course, and I really struggled with it in the beginning, because I didn’t see why it was relevant to me. I was sort of like, I only want to learn operations management and finance, which seemed more relevant because they bridged the gap between business and medicine. I thought the class, at the time that I was taking it, wasn’t really helping me with my end goals. I was feeling like – why do I have to learn accounting? Why am I learning about databases? Why am I doing this?
But what’s really great about the faculty in the business honors program at UT is they always try to make their course material relevant to you. So after a few weeks, the MIS class started talking about health IT things. When we started framing things in that way, I started seeing how, MIS and finance and accounting are not just for Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo and Deloitte. They’re for everything.
We did a case on Invisalign: How they got a product that was meant to make the lives of people better; how they developed the manufacturing process; how they were able to balance supply and demand and really build that group of customers and patients; and how they interact with dentists, orthodontists, and healthcare professionals. That really helped me overcome my misgivings.
For students interested in pairing business and medicine, don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid of biting off more than you can chew, don’t be afraid of pushing yourself. You might not think you’re going to make it through a biochemistry exam, and an accounting exam, and an operations management exam on the same day, but ultimately, if you push through hard enough, you’ll make it. And you’ll be like, “Oh, I don’t feel right about joining so many organizations and being so involved.” But don’t be afraid. Just go out and just try it – what’s the worst that can happen? You’ll never know where your limits are until you’ve gone past them.
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