When Julie Clary, MD, MBA’15, went into cardiology, she found that what she enjoyed most was leading teams of specialists and staff who work together to treat patients. Shortly after starting her fellowship, she realized she could learn how to lead teams in a more effective way than she would be taught during her medical training.
“I realized that I really liked leading multidisciplinary teams and knew I could lead in a more effective way,” Dr. Clary said.
Dr. Clary enrolled in the Physician MBA Program at the Kelley School of Business and started the first day of class seven months pregnant.
“When I was in the hospital to deliver my son, I was sending an email to the program to say I wouldn’t be there for the next residency session,” Dr. Clary said. “We worked together to figure out how to accommodate me pumping during residency sessions. We just made it work. The professors are very accommodating around the residency session I missed, and I stayed on schedule. I returned to the next residency four weeks after my son was born, and I graduated nine months pregnant again, since my boys are 21 months apart. There’s never a good time to get your MBA. If it’s something you want to do, you just have to do it.”
In addition to her clinical work in cardiology at Indiana University Heath, Dr. Clary is also the vice chair of clinical affairs for the Department of Medicine at the IU School of Medicine. Previously, she served as associate service line leader for the Division of Cardiology. Among the skills she gained in the Physician MBA Program was the confidence to be at the table with senior leaders.
“Succeeding in the Physician MBA environment gave me a lot of confidence moving forward. I took on the role of associate service line leader for cardiology when I wasn’t quite three years on faculty, and I was leading people who wrote letters of recommendation for me during medical school,” Dr. Clary said. “I had to have tough conversations with people I’d looked up to. My training with the Kelley school really gave me confidence that I could do these things and it equipped me to have those difficult conversations.”
Another key takeaway from the program is the connections physicians make among their peers in each cohort. The Physician MBA Program attracts experienced physicians from across the country and from a variety of specialties and healthcare organizations. The result is a unique and rich peer learning environment.
“It helps you make those connections and be able to make phone calls and ask what other doctors think of what you’re experiencing,” Dr. Clary said. “Ryan Nagy [MD, MBA’15, president of the IU Health adult academic health center] and I had to introduce each other to our classmates on our very first day of the MBA program. We didn’t know each other at the time, but now I feel comfortable texting or giving Ryan a call. Those connections you make are important.”
Among the leadership lessons Dr. Clary gained in the Physician MBA Program, negotiations have been a useful skill that extend beyond leading medical teams. Dr. Clary says that improving her capabilities as a physician leader have also made her a better physician to her patients.
“I think about what I learned during negotiations when I’m at the patient’s bedside. I think about two-sided messaging when I’m having risk-benefit conversations with patients or discussing new therapies with them,” Dr. Clary said. “I didn’t get my MBA to be a better doctor at the bedside, but it’s made me a better doctor, too.”
While she encourages other physicians to dive into the Physician MBA if it aligns with their career goals, she also suggests considering why you want to earn a business degree in the first place. While she feels it played a role in accelerating her career advancement, she says a Kelley degree is hard work that’s worth it in the end.
“If all you want are the credentials behind your name, you shouldn’t do the Kelley Physician MBA Program because it’s an actual MBA: you’re putting in the time and effort. But by doing so, you gain all that knowledge, experience, and skill sets. If you want the letters, go somewhere else, pay your money, get your MBA; if you want the knowledge and education, the Kelley school is great,” Dr. Clary said. “I could’ve earned these leadership positions eventually, but I think having my MBA and those skill sets accelerated it.”