Harvard Business School and Harvard Medical School MD/MBA Program Celebrates Two Decades of Integrated Leadership in Medicine and Management – News

Harvard Business School and Harvard Medical School MD/MBA Program Celebrates Two Decades of Integrated Leadership in Medicine and Management – News

by Shona Simkin

The Harvard Medical School (HMS) and Harvard Business School (HBS) MD/MBA Program recently celebrated its 20th anniversary, commemorating two decades of educating leaders navigating the complex landscapes of health care and business. Launched in 2004, the program’s mission remains the same today: To develop outstanding physician leaders, skilled in both medicine and management, to take positions of influence through which they contribute substantially to the health and well-being of individuals and society.

On April 12, 2024, MD/MBA Program founders, administrators, alumni, current students, and a few newly admitted students gathered in Aldrich Hall to celebrate this milestone, reflect on the past, and look to the future. The celebratory event included three panel discussions with program alumni, remarks from featured speaker Dr. Peter Slavin (AB 1979, MD 1984, MBA 1990), and a closing dinner in the Williams Room and small-group discussions.

Professor W. Carl Kester, HBS faculty co-chair of the MD/MBA Program, and Dr. Holly R. Khachadoorian-Elia, HMS faculty co-chair, gave welcoming remarks. They reflected on the program’s inception and growth and recognized the contributions of Dr. Stan Finkelstein, who stepped down in July 2023 as HMS faculty co-chair and Dr. Ronald A. Arky, an early advocate of the program.

“Dr. Finkelstein’s vision, commitment, and wise counseling of joint degree students made him a cornerstone of the MD/MBA Program’s success,” noted Kester. As the program’s earliest and most prominent proponent of the joint degree, he commented that Arky’s “enlightened perseverance, experience, and sage advice helped us all turn vision into reality.”

“It was wonderful to celebrate this milestone for the Harvard MD/MBA Program alongside honoring my predecessor, Dr. Stan Finkelstein, for his notable contributions to the development of this program and his dedication to our MD/MBA students,” said Khachadoorian-Elia. “I am truly humbled to have the opportunity to direct this program with Professor Kester, and spending the evening with so many fantastic alumni and current students was more than inspiring!”

Three panels in the afternoon focused on the career paths of recent graduates, the complexities of managing health care delivery and systems, and the innovations and entrepreneurial solutions of recent alumni.

“We had a thrilling discussion with alumni from the program who are driving change and creating solutions within the health care industry,” said moderator Liz Kwo (MD/MBA 2011) of her panel on innovation and entrepreneurship with David Mou (MD/MBA 2014), Erika Pabo (MD/MBA 2011), and Krishna Yeshwant (MD/MBA 2009). “From building a mental health startup to running innovative operations at a health insurance plan to implementing groundbreaking initiatives as a venture capitalist, this panel showcased the entrepreneurial spirit of individuals who leverage their dual MD and MBA degrees to positively impact health care transformation.”

Khachadoorian-Elia’s career-navigation panel featured recent program alumni Sofia Warner (MD/MBA 2017), Ricardo De Armas (MD/MBA 2020), Brian Powers (MD/MBA 2017), and Simin Gharib Lee (MD/MBA 2020), discussing their varied career paths in health care and management and the challenges and opportunities they’ve encountered thus far.

The health care delivery and systems panel, moderated by Jason Sanders (MD/MBA 2008), featured David Gellis (MD/MBA 2010), Claire Wagner (MD/MBA 2020), and Swetlana Lobachova (MD/MBA 2011) sharing their experiences in driving systemic change, addressing disparities, and contributing to the evolution of health care delivery models at scale.

“The 20th Anniversary of the MD/MBA Program was a magical and memorable event, one that truly stands out in my tenure at Harvard,” said Jill Fadule (MBA 1989), director of the Joint Degree Programs. “We assembled MD/MBA graduates, program founders, current students and even brand new admits for a series of meaningful discussions about careers, health care access improvements, and innovations in the health care space. I loved watching the audience engage with the panelists—it was hard to pull them away for the cocktail hour!”

“I predict that future collaborations were born at this event. Dr. Peter Slavin gave a substantive, humorous, thought-provoking talk about the state of health care in our city, our state, and the world. The event also provided a wonderful opportunity to thank two of the founding fathers of the program, Dr. Ronald Arky and Dr. Stan Finkelstein. The MD/MBA community owes them a debt of gratitude and it was exhilarating to see them receive accolades from faculty, graduates, and current students.”