It was a tragic, personal loss that led Funke Agbasi, MD, MBA’18, to renew her pursuit of an MBA.
“A defining moment in my life was the death of my husband,” explained Dr. Agbasi, a family medicine physician. “It’s when I realized that life is short, and nothing is guaranteed. If you want to do something, do it. Because there’s really no assurance you’ll have the opportunity next time.”
Dr. Agbasi lost her husband unexpectedly in 2015, just three weeks after the family moved to Houston. Their son, who’d been diagnosed with Down syndrome, was just two weeks shy of his second birthday at the time.
“Through all of it, I felt there were two things I could do after I lost my husband: Look at the glass half empty or figure things out and keep going,” she explained. “I decided on the latter; I have a son who depends on me. I want people to see that regardless of what life throws at you, you can thrive. I want to show my son that life may not be fair; it may not be pleasant, but you can determine your future. You must pick yourself up and thrive.”
Dr. Agbasi decided to pursue an MBA as a single mom – her son and her late husband as her inspirations.
“I always wanted to get an MBA. I was really interested in learning about the administrative part of medicine and I had enrolled in a different program in 2010. But after we moved a couple times, it was hard to keep up, and I completed only one semester.”
“Following the loss of my husband, my life mantra really became: Life is short. Nothing is guaranteed. If you want to do something, do it. So, I started searching to see if I could continue my MBA.”
Dr. Agbasi graduated from medical school in 2002 in her home country of Nigeria. She then traveled to the United States, first living in Houston, then completing three years of residency in Oklahoma. Her first job as a physician took her to Nevada, but it wasn’t until her family moved back to Houston that Dr. Agbasi renewed her search for an MBA.
During her research, she found the Business of Medicine Physician MBA Program at the Kelley School of Business, which admitted its first class of physician MBAs in 2013.
“I found Kelley, and I really liked the way it was set up with an in-person residency each month in Indianapolis combined with online instruction. Interacting face-to-face with other physicians of varying specialties each month – my peers – made me feel I could connect with other like-minded individuals and grow with a community I couldn’t find anywhere else. The Kelley Physician MBA is more than a program. It’s become a way to recreate my network and develop lifelong friends who are sounding boards for any issues that come my way.”
Dr. Agbasi is now the associate director of medical operations for the urgent care department at Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, having received a promotion during her time in the Physician MBA Program. She says she leaves the Kelley School program with a newfound understanding of the business of medicine.
“The Kelley Physician MBA has completely changed my worldview of the business side of medicine. I now understand the business language, and I’m more effective at getting things done.”
“The business of healthcare is more than seeing patients,” she explained “I understand where physicians are coming from because I am one, and I can take this knowledge and help other physicians realize that administrators aren’t there to make a physician’s life miserable – they want the business to succeed.”
Reflecting on the courses she’s taken throughout the 21-month Physician MBA, Dr. Agbasi says she’s enjoyed her macroeconomics course with Associate Dean Phil Powell, and the leadership and ethics course taught by Professor Christopher O.L.H. Porter, who now serves as the Business of Medicine Physician MBA Program faculty chair.
“Improving leadership skills was a primary reason for getting my MBA. I want to be able to lead people. I want to know how to rally the troops, and I want to know how to engage people’s hearts,” said Dr. Agbasi. “I want to know how to be heard, and I want to know how to empower people so they want to do the things that are good for patients. I also enjoyed my negotiation and conflict resolution course. If you don’t know how to communicate, you can’t get people to buy into what you’re saying, and you can’t make a difference.”
“Every course has been inspiring and eye-opening. As far as the macroeconomics course, it’s truly changed the way I see the world. In learning about conflicts between nations, I’ve come to understand how those same principals affect how we work in our careers. If people prefer conflict over cooperation, nothing gets done. It’s pretty profound. That class changed the way I think.”
Having earned an MBA, Dr. Agbasi hopes to continue to lead by example in her current administrative role. She says she hopes to inspire others to remember there’s no better time than the present to pursue your passions.
“Whatever it is you want to pursue, you can do it. Live your dreams. Don’t ever say you can’t – you can! Look at my situation. I lost my husband when I was 36. I have a special-needs son. And I’m figuring it out. It just goes to show that whatever you want to do, you can. You can thrive if you decide to go ahead and go for it. I want my life to be meaningful and if your life is better because you met me, then it is good that we met.”