When Regina Adair, MD, MBA’21, enrolled in the Physician MBA Program at the Kelley School of Business, she wanted to have a greater voice in healthcare. An experienced OB/GYN, Dr. Adair was eager to understand healthcare from the business perspective.
“I found that I really didn’t have a voice in medicine. Even though I’d run my own practice and went through all the financials, I didn’t truly understand them like I felt I could. I saw decisions being made about patient care by non-medical people,” said Dr. Adair. “And as a minority female, I felt I needed to have some validation for my knowledge base in order to be heard. I recognized that change in healthcare doesn’t occur on the ground; it occurs in the C-suites. And the only way for me to get there was to earn my MBA.”
Dr. Adair’s close friend and Kelley alum Camie Wright, MD, MBA’16, suggested that Dr. Adair consider earning an MBA. Like many alumni of the Physician MBA Program, Dr. Wright recommended the program to her friend and colleague to open doors in her career.
“I didn’t want to go back to school after spending so much time in medical school, but Camie reassured me that I could do it. She was so happy in her new role and about the doors the MBA opens beyond patient care,” said Dr. Adair. “When you’re going through your medical training, you become convinced that your skills are limited to taking care of patients. But there’s so much more out there for us to do that can benefit patients beyond direct patient care.”
During the MBA experience, Dr. Adair learned the basics of business—accounting, finance, accounting, operations, and more—through the lens of healthcare. Case studies featured healthcare challenges. Faculty introduced best practices from other industries and how they could work to improve healthcare.
Dr. Adair applied what she was learning in class to solve a real business challenge at work.
“In my previous role, I was working on revamping our peer review process, and I used the project for my operations class to find solutions,” said Dr. Adair. “This program offers you active learning. I was eventually promoted to medical director during my studies.”
Dr. Adair went on two trips to healthcare destinations around the world during the Global Healthcare Experience, an immersive study in the unique healthcare systems in various countries. She traveled to the Netherlands and Amsterdam as a student and, then, to London and Paris during an alumni version of the course.
“Everyone should have the opportunity to see different cultures to understand how similar we are. We all have the same issues, and it’s refreshing to see other perspectives on how to address them. These trips offer that opportunity,” said Dr. Adair. “For example, the Netherlands and Amsterdam have totally different perspectives on dementia and end-of-life care. It was insightful for me to see how differently their outlooks are on both. It’s completely different from here in the United States. I understand they’re small countries the size of Texas, so they have a bit more control. But they’re millions of miles ahead of us in progress. It was amazing.”
During her time in the Physician MBA Program, Dr. Adair underwent career coaching, professional development, and networking. As she considered the next step in her career, Dr. Adair says she had a whole cohort of physician peers with whom she could discuss options and how best to apply her strengths.
“They helped me decipher what path I wanted to take. They were sounding boards to discuss where I saw myself, their impressions of me, and what paths that might be best for my strengths,” said Dr. Adair. “The Kelley School’s executive coaches and leadership courses were excellent, too. [Program Director] Susannah Eastwick taught our Career Development and Professional Management course and helped me revamp my LinkedIn profile. With that profile, I attracted hits from recruiters, which ultimately led to my current job.”
In 2022, Dr. Adair began in the role of regional medical director at TeamHealth, which provides hospitalist coverage across the country. Dr. Adair is responsible for five OB hospitalist groups and manages facility medical directors. She serves as the liaison between bedside clinicians and senior leadership.
“In leadership, you see a different side of medicine than when you’re in the trenches; all those things that go on behind the scenes. It’s the same thing when you’re in executive leadership—you get to understand why decisions are made,” said Dr. Adair. “From a financial perspective, it’s like putting two neurons together that finally synapse—it all makes sense. Everything I’ve learned all comes together.”
Dr. Adair says having an MBA contributed to earning her new role. Her new boss is also a physician MBA who understands the value this perspective brings to healthcare.
“Having an MBA absolutely played a role in this new position. I was new to TeamHealth, and I could’ve transitioned to the same role I had previously as medical director. But I attribute my ability to become the regional medical director to my MBA,” said Dr. Adair.
As she reflects on what she has gained by earning the Physician MBA at Kelley, Dr. Adair says the best takeaways go beyond financials and the central business skills. While those are important skills to have, she says she’s grown through the soft skills gained and evolved into a different physician and leader.
“What I gained most from Kelley are the lessons on relationships, interacting in the C-suite, and reading the room so that my message is received in a way that helps me make a difference. Anybody can learn how to use a spreadsheet, but everything in life is relationships. You can be the smartest person in the world, but if you can’t communicate effectively or impact people beyond what they see in front of them, you’re not effective,” said Dr. Adair. “I understand healthcare in a way I never truly had before, and the way I present myself and the confidence that I exude is more evident now.”
Like her friend Camie, Dr. Adair also encourages other physicians to pursue an MBA at the Kelley School. Though it takes time and sacrifice, she says it’s worth it to find a fulfilling career in medicine.
“You look at where you are today and whether you truly believe you are doing what you were called to do. As physicians, we have been pigeonholed for so long to believe that we can only take care of patients clinically, but patient care goes well beyond that—it’s healthcare policy and processes, and that is where physician MBAs are needed.”