There don’t seem to be enough hours in the day for what Ragan Brackett, MD, MBA’16, accomplished as a Kelley MBA student.
While earning her degree in the Kelley Evening MBA Program at IUPUI, she also was a medical student at the IU School of Medicine, and she became a mother for the first time—ultimately delivering three children through the duration of her studies as an MD/MBA dual degree student.
“It was a huge challenge, and I’m proud of what I accomplished,” says Brackett. “As I juggled everything, I had to be intentional about setting a career goal for myself and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.”
A former NCAA Division I basketball player, Brackett decided to pursue a medical degree several years after graduating from Brown University and working professionally. With the same dogged determination she showed on the basketball court, Brackett decided to follow in her mother’s footsteps and become a physician. But her aspirations didn’t end with medicine.
“I wanted to be an entrepreneur in addition to being a doctor,” she says. “One of my first few days in medical school, I walked through a career fair and learned about a joint degree with the Kelley School of Business, allowing me to get my medical degree and an MBA at the same time. That really spoke to me. I knew the decision would serve me well.”
The MD/MBA dual degree took Brackett six years to complete. She says the Evening MBA offered her a different experience alongside her medical education—one that gave her a safe space to explore concepts and try out new ideas.
“The MBA part of my education offered me vast amounts of creativity and the ability to step outside the lines,” she says. “It provided flexibility and balance. I now have more opportunities to do things that speak to my passions, which aren’t completely satisfied by being a doctor.”
Not one to simply show up to class and check the box, Brackett was a member of the Entrepreneurship Club and Kelley Indianapolis MBA Women’s Association (KIMWA). Additionally, she completed a number of entrepreneurship-based consulting projects. She says the variety of learning options and the networking at Kelley provided her with a diverse business education.
“One of the most advantageous aspects of the Kelley Evening MBA Program is meeting so many talented and tenacious people with unique backgrounds. I’ve kept close ties with them since graduation,” she says.
“The hands-on projects were truly invaluable to my education. Among them, I worked alongside my peers with a business for one year to provide a comprehensive strategic plan. I also traveled to the Dominican Republic to provide business assistance to a gentleman running an NGO, and I offered financial strategy for a company in Indianapolis that serves the homeless and poor. I’m very passionate about helping the underserved in medicine, so these experiences naturally appealed to my medical background, too.”
Brackett says the business insights she gained through her MBA helped inform her understanding of quality measurement and how it is used to drive improvements in healthcare. By grasping the quality metrics used in the manufacturing industry and the related business acumen she gained at Kelley, Brackett says she feels better equipped to lead her own practice.
“Because of my Kelley MBA, I can sit confidently at a table with board members and know that I deserve a seat here,” she says. “It’s intimidating to go from being a first-year resident to suddenly being in charge of a team. I’ve seen doctors struggle with that. My MBA experience helped me to appreciate what it’s like to work on a team and to be an effective leader. It’s one way I continue to apply my MBA to my medical career.”
Brackett says the MBA also helps her grow within the medical industry. Whether it’s earning the opportunity to manage projects or provide a better financial awareness of the healthcare organization, Brackett’s Kelley degree adds value to her career.
“Regardless what market or industry you’re in, having an MBA opens doors and opens colleagues’ eyes to your ability as a leader,” she says. “And there are so many people
connected to Kelley who are invested in your success, so don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.”
Outside of medicine, Brackett works with her husband, who co-owns 11 restaurants in Indianapolis (including Stacked Pickle and CharBlue), for which she’s actively involved in marketing and branding. Together, they founded Gary Brackett’s Impact Foundation, a not-for-profit that supports critically and terminally ill children and their families, among others. If a business question arises along the way, Brackett knows she always has a resource in Kelley faculty and alumni.
“I’m in contact with many people from Kelley, and I know that at any point I can reach out, whether I need advice or a connection. Kelley’s network has been key,” she says of her professional and personal growth. “If you choose to pursue an MBA, forming relationships and connections with those people is vital. Take advantage of all the networking opportunities; they can be transformative immediately and later in your career. I know I can always go back to Kelley.”
Receiving guidance and support from many in her “village,” Brackett believes in returning the favor.
“Transforming from a mentee to a mentor is a personal goal to make this community even better,” she says.
A native of Indianapolis, Brackett gives back by tutoring medical school, college, and high school students; coaching her children’s’ soccer and basketball teams; and volunteering at homeless shelters. Sometimes, she gives back by simply talking to others about what they can accomplish.
“I’m often asked to talk to young people about how they can become doctors,” she says. “It’s gratifying to work in the underserved community and offer strength to kids who may not otherwise have career models. I feel very responsible to let little girls, especially, know they can be doctors, too. One day, they can earn an MBA and sit at the table making decisions, too. You’re going to have to fight hard, maintain your integrity, and learn how to overcome challenges along the way.”
To be sure, Brackett had an extraordinary Kelley MBA experience at IUPUI. But it’s one she believes is worth the time and sacrifice required.
“It may be difficult to see it in the beginning, but the growth you’ll experience will guide you. It will shine light on why you’re making this choice and what you’ll achieve with it when you’re finished.”