5 b-school courses that help me in my healthcare career

By: Dr. Geraldine McGinty
Geraldine McGinty featured image

Dr. Geraldine McGinty, MD, MBA, is the academic director for the Executive MBA/MS in Healthcare Leadership program

The desire to help others is what leads many of us to choose a career in healthcare, but there’s no doubt that it’s increasingly important to add business skills to your resume if you are looking to transition into a leadership role.

First and foremost, I’m a radiologist who does breast cancer screening and diagnosis, but throughout my career I’ve had the opportunity to take on other responsibilities that require a greater focus on the business aspects of healthcare. As the chief strategy officer for the Weill Cornell Physician Organization, I draw on my MBA coursework each day as we think about how to support our hospital leadership and best position ourselves for the future of healthcare.

I am so excited to be part of the launch for the new dual Executive MBA/MS in Healthcare Leadership program—a partnership between two world-class institutions, the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University and Weill Cornell Medicine. Ensuring that the next generation of healthcare leaders has the requisite tools to succeed feels like paying forward all of what I’ve been fortunate enough to learn.

Here are five business school courses that continue to support and strengthen my career.

1. Negotiations

Negotiations was quite possibly my favorite course in business school. I use the knowledge I gained in that class every day. I work on negotiating agreements with insurance companies, which requires an understanding of how the physician organization’s interests align with theirs. We aim for agreements that support our ability to deliver the highest quality care to our patients—to do that we need to remain competitive and creative in our negotiations.

2. Turnarounds

The ability to look at a process and understand what it’s going to take to get it back on track is important, not only from a financial standpoint, but also in terms of advocating for the resources and time that will be needed to make improvements. It’s never easy to do that but my business school training has helped me analyze situations and make informed decisions even if they are difficult ones.

3. Operations Management

I love the process of improving a process! When I was in business school, my operations management project analyzed the workflow and process at a Starbucks. We looked at queue abandonment rates and deployment of resources as busy commuters poured in for their morning java. We definitely saw the impact of business decisions on the customer experience.

I came away realizing that you need to start with a goal and work back into your process. Maybe that’s why I’m in strategy now! Taking the time to really analyze a process and then match up against what your goals are for that process is one of the best things you can do terms of trying to improve your organization.

4. Cost Accounting

The idea of reassembling data to change or inform the way we look at a process or program is fascinating to me. Cost accounting can challenge our preconceived notions about which programs are valuable and which are not. It’s difficult in healthcare, but it’s not something that we should shy away from. As part of my strategy role, I need to support our leadership in making decisions on program development. And while I’m not doing cost accounting myself, just knowing that it has the potential to change the outlook of a particular decision will make my input more valuable.

5. Healthcare Economics

When I started to practice medicine, I remember being so puzzled about the fact that different payers pay different amounts to providers for the same service or that certain services seem to be under-reimbursed compared to the efforts needed to perform them. This ignited in me a real interest in understanding the drivers and incentives in our healthcare delivery system.

As a provider, a patient, and a taxpayer, I want to make the healthcare delivery system the best it can be. Learning about the way various levers are pulled and identifying relevant stakeholders has been pretty interesting. Certainly, in terms of what I do everyday, healthcare economics plays an essential part in understanding where Weill Cornell sits in the healthcare landscape and what we need to do to remain a world class institution fulfilling our tripartite mission of research, care, and teaching.


Learn more about the EMBA/MS in Healthcare Leadership program here.

Dr. Geraldine McGinty

Dr. Geraldine McGinty, MD, MBA, is the academic director for the Executive MBA/MS in Healthcare Leadership program