Spring 1 Duke MBA: Focus on Health Sector Management

The Spring 1 term is not only memorable for the two major snow storms but also for its immersive health care experiences for Health Sector Management (HSM) students in the Duke MBA program. While we had a lot of opportunities during the Fall 1 & 2 terms in health care, Spring 1 definitely feels more focused on health care from an academic perspective.

In Spring 1, there is only one required core course, Operations. Because of recruiting for the summer internship and other commitments such as Mentored Study and Program 4 Entrepreneurs, I decided to take only one other elective, Health Care Markets. Students are able to take 3 lectures each term (9 credits) and can take an additional 2 more experiential courses (6 credits).

Health Care Markets

This is the first course most first year MBA students take from HSM Faculty Director and health care economist Prof. David Ridley. He also taught during the HSM bootcamp in the summer and I greatly enjoyed his lectures. I was really looking forward to take another course from David and was very happy with this decision. The course covers issues for the various stakeholders in the health care industry, including payers, providers, and manufacturers. It takes the topics that were introduced in the HSM bootcamp and goes further in depth.

There is a lot of preparation, which includes reading and an assignment for each class. The class is very discussion heavy so preparation is definitely needed. While I enjoyed the biopharma lectures, I appreciated the opportunity to study payers and providers even more. They are important customers to pharma and one goal I had with the Duke MBA was to understand them further. The detail and depth of discussion was very satisfying. My favorite lecture thus far has been on hospitals, for which a hospital CEO joined the class as a guest.

Health Care Markets is a required course to obtain the HSM certificate, and most students are first year MBA students. It's great preparation for the summer internship and I enjoyed learning about reimbursement strategies, pharmaceutical pricing, and other highly relevant topics for my summer in pharmaceutical marketing. There are also a few second year students and I enjoyed learning about their insights from their summer internship.

Health Care Seminar 2nd year MBA student presentations

We continue to take the Health Care Seminar course from the Fall terms. However, this term we serve as the audience to 2nd year MBA student presentations. Students are required to conduct research on a particular pharma or health care product and develop a commercial strategy for it. HSM first year MBA students are divided into two classrooms and each group listens to three 2nd year team presentations.

I was fortunate to learn a lot about the Chinese and India health care system, two areas that I did not have professional experience in yet was curious to learn about. I was taught about the unique reimbursement and distribution system in China and enjoyed hearing the teams present their channel strategies such as how to reach out to hospitals and key opinion leaders (KOL). This would be very valuable as I think about global commercial strategy in the future.

Health Care speaker events

While many events were cancelled due to the weather, we had 3 health care-related seminars planned for Spring 1. Speakers included leaders from pharma, providers, and payers. This includes a much anticipated talk by the author of the Oregon Medicaid study, one of the first randomized studies on the topic. These events are scheduled in the afternoons after class and is a great way to engage with thought leaders to discuss current issues in health care.

Overall, Spring 1 really stood out because of all the academic opportunities to study the issues relevant to health care today. While I covered the non-classroom health care experential opportunities already, I hope that this post will shed some light on the lecture components in the HSM program. Combined, this really helps creates a truly immersive and intense health care educational experience. It's great to be constantly surrounded by all of these health care resources in the HSM program!


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