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Applications for IUPUI’s Physician MBA program up, doctors heading back to classroom after pandemic

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — IU’s Kelley School of Business at IUPUI says 2020 saw a big jump in people asking about its Physician MBA program. The school says it’s directly related to the pandemic and the crazy year for the healthcare industry.

Applications are up 40% so far this year. It’s a program specifically for doctors to learn the language of business so they can better lead a team and provide better care for patients. Those in the program say they’re working to make health care better for everyone.

It’s doctor Tom Schleeter’s day off and he’s working on his final project for class.

“I’m really hoping to focus on helping other doctors and nurses through coaching,” he said.

He’s a cardiologist at Ascension St. Vincent and graduates this year with his Physician MBA.

“Health care is changing rapidly,” Dr. Schleeter said. “Now, it’s bigger health care systems.”

He decided to go back to school when he saw how difficult it could be to be a patient. His oldest daughter Sarah was born with severe special needs.

“She had something known as Rett syndrome, daily seizures, difficulty breathing, the ability to not walk or talk,” he said.

This came with constant challenges.

“Trying to get prescriptions filled, dealing with insurance companies, getting therapies, pre-authorizations, things that my patients deal with every day,” the cardiologist said.

Sarah passed away in 2016 at 17. Dr. Schleeter and his wife, who is a nurse, have devoted their time to make things better for people like Sarah.

“Learning the techniques and things we need to be successful moving forward and bettering things for patients, doctors and nurses,” he said.

Program director Susannah Gillan says students take the things they learn in the classroom and apply it to their work. The pandemic is a perfect example.

“Many of them had to make a switch to telemedicine immediately,” she said. “They were learning to negotiate with vendors, think about operations.”

Physicians looked at systemic issues that immediately caused challenges.

“Why was there a PPE shortage?” Gillan said. “What caused the shortage to happen so that next time they don’t run into that issue?”

Now, Dr. Schleeter is ready to improve processes that can give someone a second chance.

“Taking somebody who is sick and failing and putting a team together, getting them a new heart and watching them thrive in a new life,” he said. “Man, there’s nothing better than that.”

The program runs 21-months. There are more than 30 doctors this year. They will graduate at the beginning of June. The average age of this graduating class is 47 and they come from as far as Texas and Florida.

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