I still vividly remember the moment I started my journey in Fuqua at the HSM Bootcamp, hosted by Fuqua’s Center for Health Sector Management. I was excited about a two-year experience that I knew was going to be transformative. In the very first class, the professor asked us to raise our hands if we had prior experience in health care as providers or with payers, pharmaceuticals, or medical devices. I found myself in a somewhat awkward position because I was involved in health care but in none of these major industries. Before Fuqua, I worked in the chemical industry as a research and development scientist developing products for infection prevention. So, I told the professor that I was “borderline” health care in my previous career.

Inspired by how the biotech industry and its business leaders were making a profound impact on lives during the pandemic, I came to business school intending to make a career switch in both industry and job function. Now, a few months away from graduation, I feel more prepared than ever to start my work at Labcorp, a global leader of diagnostic laboratory services, as director of corporate strategy.

When I reflect on my journey, I realize that the HSM program at Fuqua has been instrumental in preparing me for my career transition by exposing me to these four important resources.

1. Comprehensive Overview Showcasing the Health Care Ecosystem

As an outsider to the health care industry, I initially felt intimidated by the complexity of the U.S. health care system. From various payment models to value-based care, from drug pricing to the Inflation Reduction Act—all these new concepts came up as I started exploring the health care space in the very first week of the HSM Bootcamp. Throughout the program, I had the opportunity to dive deeper into the key players within health care and their strategies through elective courses including Health Care Markets, Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Strategy, Medical Device Strategy, and Seminars in Health Care.

2. Many Candid Conversations About Health Care’s Problematic, Frustrating and Intriguing Aspects

Health care can be a “frustrating” industry to be in. In the U.S., our health care spending is growing at a concerning rate, yet health outcome are not where we would want it to be. One thing I became more and more appreciative of in the HSM program is that there are a lot of candid conversations happening among people who genuinely have a passion for changing the system for the better.

We talked about the high cost of prescription and branded drugs, the moral hazard behind health care insurance usage, misaligned incentives that drive up medical costs, and the problems with health equity within the current system. In hindsight, I realize that these conversations were essential for me to understand the business logic behind certain aspects of the industry. Having that foundational knowledge pushed me to learn and think about innovations that can challenge the status quo.

3. A New Perspective on Health Care Innovation

Coming from a science background, I used to think about innovation as technological breakthroughs. Undoubtedly, novel therapeutics are transformative to health care, and mRNA vaccines are one example. However, the MBA experience provided me with a new horizon.

I discovered the power of business innovation, which can also be highly impactful. Business innovations can address the challenges of health care cost, access, and quality more fundamentally. During my classes and recruiting at Fuqua, I felt constantly inspired by new health care delivery and payment models, such as accountable care organizations, which aim to lower costs and improve the quality of health care at the same time.

4. An Expansive Community of Thought Leaders

My journey at Fuqua would never be the same without having the privilege to meet and learn from a community of thought leaders within health care. It still amazes me every time I remember that we had the former CEO of Roche in every class with us for Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Strategy.

Another highlight of my experience in HSM was that a team of us competed and won a case competition hosted by Vertex Pharmaceuticals. We had a team of MDs, PharmDs, and PhDs with combined experiences as health care providers and/or working in patient care, pharmaceuticals, and data science.

The thought leadership also extends beyond the campus. I met great business leaders from Fuqua through my recruiting experience, experiential learning in Mentored Study, and my summer internship. I realized that the combined expertise is what the Fuqua HSM community is about. It starts now for us, and it will last for a lifetime in our careers.