Health Sector Management at Duke MBA (Program 4 Entrepreneurs)

A reader had asked me what type of health care experiences that the Duke MBA Health Sector Management (HSM) program offers outside of classes and seminars. Because of this, I'm starting a blog post series on this topic. If you have a question, just leave me a comment and I'll help answer it for you, my reader.

P4E, short for Program 4 Entrepreneurs, is an experiential course that Duke Fuqua MBA students can take in their first or second years. There are 3 courses in total, New Ventures 1 (NV1), NV2, and NV3. In short, in NV1 students evaluate the opportunity; in NV2 students develop the business strategy of the venture; in NV3 students develop the operation strategy and launch the company. NV1 is typically taken in the fall semester of first year, NV2 is taken in spring semester of first year, and NV3 is taken fall semester of the second year. This is the short version – for more detailed information, visit P4E’s official website. I’ve also written about the P4E kickoff that I had attended in the summer before starting my first year. Read about it here.

How it relates to health care:

Duke MBA students can pick almost any idea or project they’d like, which can be a health care venture. In the past, Duke Fuqua HSM students have done device, health IT, and biotech startups, some of which have had exits (e.g. Grassroots Bio). My team has been competing in the NCI/Avon Foundation’s Breast Cancer Startup Challenge and taking P4E to learn the fundamentals. We’ve found the frameworks, strategy, and guest speakers to be particularly useful. We’ve had CEOs of biotech startups come in to lecture and got fantastic feedback on our project. This is no surprise, given that Duke is located in the Research Triangle Park (RTP). While I’ve founded and worked closely with startups in the past, this course allowed me to reflect on my previous experience and build a more structured, stronger and effective way of approaching innovation management and strategy.

Duke MBA students have access to an extensive national network of professionals in the health care industry. By being in P4E, faculty members have connected my team to people in companies that gave important insight for our project. Within RTP, we also built strong connections with local biotech companies, contract research and manufacturing organizations. Duke also has a top medical school with renowned researchers and thought leaders in medicine. As students, we’ve been able to build connections with researchers and clinical research organizations within the Duke system, including Duke Medicine and Duke Law.

P4E isn’t only for people who want to start companies right after the Duke MBA. Most P4E students have gone on to build corporate careers. The entrepreneurial mindset and real world skills gained through this process is invaluable to any employer, probably more so at big companies, as our Dean, Bill Boulding, recently told the Financial Times. Of all the projects I’ve done so far at Fuqua, my P4E team experience and learning has been the most memorable. I greatly appreciate this opportunity to build my skills in a risk-free environment like the Duke MBA.

For students looking to gain real-world health care experience, P4E would fit nicely given the strong local health care ecosystem within RTP, Duke, HSM and the extensive alumni network that Fuqua has internationally. I look forward to seeing more students working on HSM projects in the future.

This is part of a blog series on HSM opportunities outside of the classes and seminars. I wrote this series because a reader asked, so please leave your questions and comments on the blog!

Read Part 2. Health Sector Management at Duke MBA (Mentored Study)
Read Part 3. Health Sector Management at Duke MBA (Week in Cities)
Read Part 4. Health Sector Management at Duke MBA (Health Care Club)
Read Part 5. Health Sector Management at Duke MBA (Fuqua Client Consulting Practicum, Duke University Hospital Internship)

How do you like these blog posts? Would appreciate your feedback in the comment section below!


  1. Hey Steve, thanks for starting a blog series on this topic. Can't wait to read them

    1. No problem, Sathya! Please stay tuned and let me know if you have any questions

  2. Hi Steven,
    Great content - very insightful! I have a healthcare technology concept that I would like to pitch and incubate at Fuqua in the P4E program, and plan to pursue the HSM certificate to expand my knowledge base in the healthcare industry. Seems doing both programs in conjunction is feasible (and normal?) from a timing standpoint, but I wasn't sure what kind of bandwidth constraints this would present if I secure a position as a student lead. Can you comment?

    I was warned that a path like this may come at the sacrifice of the time others use for recruiting. What's your assessment? Is it common for very successful P4E teams to forgo an internship and focus on the business?