You don’t need a medical degree to work in medical device sales, but a healthcare background can be useful.
Though she originally earned her degree in journalism at Indiana University and began in marketing, Jennifer Dewees, GCMM’21, MBA’24, has worked in medical device sales for 15 years. She’s a territory manager for ConvaTec, supplying catheters to private practice urologists. When her educational background comes up in interviews or conversation, she feels it lacks the healthcare gravitas her professional experience offers. That’s why Jennifer decided to pursue the Graduate Certificate in Medical Management at the Kelley School of Business to better align her education and her professional work experience.
“There’s a perception that a journalism degree is too unrelated to healthcare to be relevant for this field,” says Jennifer. “The graduate certificate, especially one from the Kelley School, would bolster my business background and lend some healthcare credibility to my education.”
In fact, the graduate certificate came into use shortly after Jennifer began the online program. She was transitioning careers, and her enrollment in the program was a conversation starter and differentiator.
“When I was interviewing, it gave me credibility with the Kelley School name and provided a very interesting talking point about what the Graduate Certificate in Medical Management entails,” she says. “I hadn’t even completed it yet, but the graduate certificate helped me stand out from other candidates.”
Lessons that apply to the workplace.
Throughout the 12-month program, Jennifer applied what she learned in her work at ConvaTec. In particular, she found the Healthcare System Strategy and Innovation course particularly useful in expanding her perception of the business of healthcare.
“This course highlighted different, effective strategies that hospital organizations in the United States and around the globe are implementing, which really helped me integrate these processes into procedures within my own company and customer accounts,” says Jennifer. “This class reignited my creativity to look at things a little bit differently and find opportunities to improve and deploy some of those elements I saw executed in the case studies.”
In fact, Jennifer was able to bring her own work into the classroom and apply her learnings in the Graduate Certificate in Medical Management to solve real-world challenges.
“Mine is a new division within a multinational company. In my last course in the program — a marketing course — my final project was related to my job,” she says. “I was able to implement some of the changes that I offered in the project throughout my territory.”
Gaining a new perspective.
Aside from the specific deliverables and new approaches, Jennifer says the Kelley Graduate Certificate in Medical Management gave her the opportunity to step back and examine her work through a wider lens. Given the rigorous demands of daily work, it is often difficult for professionals to take a deep dive on procedures and processes, but Jennifer says the graduate certificate program afforded her the time, space and support to achieve this.
“Having that opportunity to really step back and analyze other cases, other hospital systems and their approaches through the coursework gave me a fresh perspective on my daily work,” she says. “The coursework looks at concepts like process improvement from a very high level, and it really inspired me to evaluate opportunities for improvement and areas for change in my day-to-day tasks.”
Having that opportunity gave me a fresh perspective on my daily work.”
Throughout the program, Jennifer says she worked closely with Kelley faculty — many of whom have worked in healthcare and pharma — who helped her translate her newfound business acumen to tackle real challenges in her industry.
“One thing that makes the Kelley School unique is its faculty. They truly possess a combination of impeccable professional experience and excellent teaching skills,” says Jennifer. “The professors have a real passion for their students’ learning and a passion for changing the healthcare industry. It is certainly more than a job for them. You can tell it’s really their calling.”
Educating isn’t limited to the professors, however. Students in the Graduate Certificate in Medical Management come from a variety of healthcare fields and professions. Jennifer’s class included everyone from experienced healthcare professionals to several students still in medical school. The entire class brings to the table a diverse set of experiences and knowledge that benefits the entire cohort.
“The U.S. healthcare system is incredibly complex, and we had someone from every part of the industry in our courses. It was invaluable to hear how the topics we discussed impact their work — from revenue cycle to clinical providers and practice management,” says Jennifer. “As a medical device industry professional, gaining that knowledge allows me to adjust my expectations, goals or approach for various customers based on their experiences.”
Tools for navigating a complex industry.
And because the healthcare industry is so complex, Jennifer says becoming an expert in her field requires understanding the sum of its parts. It’s not enough to be an expert in your industry; the ability to impact such a massive sector requires a well-rounded approach.
“Someone who’s going to create change in their particular part of healthcare needs to understand the entirety of it because every piece of the industry works together,” says Jennifer. “Whether you like it or not, you must understand each part of the business to overcome objections or obstacles that might be put in your way. This is particularly true from a provider’s perspective, where you want to do the best for your patient. You need to understand how to communicate these issues and navigate them within the parameters of your hospital system.”
Whether you like it or not, you must understand each part of the business to overcome objections or obstacles that might be put in your way.”
Jennifer is currently applying credits from the graduate certificate toward the Evening MBA Program at the Kelley School. She’s also encouraged other professionals in her role to pursue the Kelley Graduate Certificate in Medical Management to begin broadening their perspectives on the healthcare industry and critical connections to other fields. Plus, she says it’s been fun to return to the classroom several years after her undergraduate studies and exercise the academic part of her brain.
“The process of going back to the university setting was really enjoyable for me. The skills you need in an educational environment are skills we put away when we’ve been in the workforce environment,” she says. “Reigniting that passion for questioning, evaluating and reassessing things going on within my own territory and business was helpful for me.”
“This program did what I hoped it would do when I set out to bolster my journalism background: It aligned my education with what I was doing professionally, and it was an invaluable experience that gave me everything I wanted out of it, and more.”