When two major Indiana health systems decided to team up to form a joint venture addressing population health needs, they selected Lori Sieboldt, MD, MBA’21, to lead its medical operations. The medical director of population health at Deaconess Health System in Evansville, Indiana, Dr. Sieboldt was in the first year of the Physician MBA Program at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business when she was asked to lead the new Innovative Healthcare Collaborative of Indiana (IHCI) as chief medical officer.
“This company did not exist when I started my MBA. We were having pie-in-the-sky discussions about it,” said Dr. Sieboldt. “When they initially came to me with the idea, it was a very different role. But through the MBA, I was able to craft the position I’m in now. I don’t think that would’ve been possible without my experience at Kelley.”
An emergency medicine physician by training, Dr. Sieboldt transitioned from patient care into an executive role in the move to IHCI. She says she uses lessons from the Kelley Physician MBA every day to lead her new organization, which began meeting the population health needs of 245,000 patients in Indianapolis and Evansville on January 1, 2022.
“Moving from a physician that cares for patients into an executive role really forces you to become a different type of leader. You go from a task-oriented physician to an executive responsible for growing your team,” said Dr. Sieboldt, who now leads a team of 55 nurses, social workers and outreach specialists. “Suddenly, you’re growing leaders instead of growing yourself. The Physician MBA prepared me for that shift in mindset through change management and leadership training — Kelley does a really great job preparing future leaders.”
Suddenly, you’re growing leaders instead of growing yourself. The Physician MBA prepared me for that shift in mindset through change management and leadership training — Kelley does a really great job preparing future leaders.”
Following her completion of the MBA and first year in the new position, Dr. Sieboldt was named a 2021 Best & Brightest Executive MBA by Poets & Quants, a renowned publication that covers graduate business education. She says she felt prepared to hit the ground running in her new role thanks to her education at the Kelley School of Business.
“I don’t think I’d be where I’m at today without the Physician MBA because it gave me the skills, tools, confidence and wherewithal to reach for the job I have now,” she said.
Prior to this new position, Dr. Sieboldt served as the system director of case management, post-acute care and physician advising services at Deaconess. With several years of clinical experience under her belt, Dr. Sieboldt began to feel her education was not complete. She knew she wanted to add a graduate degree, and she debated between an MPA or MBA before discovering the physician-only MBA program at the Kelley School of Business.
“The advantage Kelley has over all the programs out there is the opportunity to sit in a classroom with 30 to 40 other physicians discussing a business or medical ethics issue,” she said. “That’s quite different than sitting in a room in which I’m the only physician. I feel like the education was so focused on what physicians need; it was just incredible.”
Dr. Sieboldt says the courses in the Physician MBA Program zero in on the unique challenges she and her peers face each day in healthcare. Particularly, she found the course on the Anatomy & Physiology of the U.S. Healthcare System provided insight, especially healthcare’s historical origins, about the field in which she’s spent so much time working. But the courses in accounting and finance really made her “feel like an MBA.”
“Finance and accounting were incredibly valuable. I use those lessons every day, now that I’ve transitioned from patient care to fully administrative work,” she said. “My business is essentially a startup. I’m backed and capitalized by two very mature health systems, but my company sits outside of them. I use [Professor of Finance] Ken Carow’s class almost every day.”
During the program, Dr. Sieboldt traveled to Switzerland and the Netherlands to study their healthcare systems as part of the Global Studies in Healthcare Experience course. She says the experience opened her eyes to new approaches to providing healthcare that go beyond the headlines and deeper into the medical perspective.
She says the experience opened her eyes to new approaches to providing healthcare that go beyond the headlines and deeper into the medical perspective.
“I think it’s valuable for physicians in the United States to learn about other countries’ healthcare models from the physicians themselves, rather than what we read in major newspapers because there’s a lot of room for misinterpretation,” she said. “This goes beyond anything we learn in medical school, residency or 17 years of clinical practice. We just don’t stop to consider how Canada or the United Kingdom approach healthcare. The course dispels a lot of myths by allowing us to study, understand and see global healthcare firsthand.”
Aside from international healthcare models and the basic business skills of accounting and finance, Dr. Sieboldt says the greatest takeaways from the Physician MBA Program is exposure to new mindsets and new ways of thinking about healthcare.
“Sure, I learned how to better interpret a financial report, but what benefitted me the most were the change management and leadership lessons — the mindset shifts. It helped me move past a frontline mindset and into a leader’s mindset.”
The Physician MBA exposed Dr. Sieboldt to a wide spectrum of healthcare business implications that reached far beyond what she might experience on a daily basis. She was often paired in teams of physicians with backgrounds or personality styles different from her own. In short, she says the program pushed her out of her comfort zone and into new capabilities she wouldn’t have otherwise encountered.
“The program helps you grow as a leader by recognizing and understanding other personalities and how to work with them and get the most out of them,” she said. “You’re also exposed to a gamut of business decisions. At my startup company, we’re handling technical and operations basics that need to be done, so as a physician, I’m working with one marketing team to get a brand and logo developed. I’m working with a different team to prepare marketing materials. That’s not something anyone instructed me to do, but thanks to the MBA, it’s something I knew we needed.”
That’s not something anyone instructed me to do, but thanks to the MBA, it’s something I knew we needed.”
Like many alumni of the Physician MBA Program, Dr. Sieboldt is often in discussion with other clinicians debating the pursuit an MBA. She encourages her peers to consider where they want to go next in their careers and how an MBA can help move them in that direction. And she says the question of having enough time to pursue a degree is universal.
“You’re not going to wake up one day and be less busy; you have to decide when the investment is right for you. I’m a single mom, and I made time for it. The Kelley program is very respectful of your time, and they’re not assigning busy work — you’re doing value-added assignments,” said Dr. Sieboldt. “The MBA launched where I am today. There’s real value in this degree — it’s not just letters or certifications behind your name. There’s so much to gain if you take the step. I consider the Physician MBA Program an investment in your future.”