With financial support from the Commonwealth Fund, the Yale School of Management will launch a program to give healthcare practitioners the leadership skills and the deep understanding of markets, organizations, and governments needed to tackle major inequities in the U.S. healthcare system.
The program, called the Commonwealth Fund Fellowship in Minority Health Leadership at Yale University, will fully fund three fellows per year, who will complete the MBA for Executives degree program with a focus on healthcare while also receiving specialized training and mentoring from experts in healthcare disparities from across the university and beyond. The fellows will be health practitioners committed to improving healthcare access and outcomes for minorities, socio-economically disadvantaged groups, and other vulnerable populations.
The first fellows will begin the 22-month MBA for Executives programs in July 2019. Applications will be accepted beginning in fall 2018.
Yale University President Peter Salovey said, “Health disparities are among the most pressing challenges facing communities across the nation. I am grateful that the Commonwealth Fund is working with the School of Management to bring together experts and resources from across the university to educate clinicians to take on this challenge. I am proud of how our faculty, students, and staff model Yale’s mission to serve all sectors of society through outstanding research, scholarship, education, and practice.”
Yale’s EMBA curriculum imbues students with the analytical skills and decision-making tools to lead effectively across all sectors—private, public and nonprofit—and enhances their ability to set goals, build teams, and communicate persuasively. Approximately a quarter of the curriculum delves into management and leadership issues in the healthcare space. Throughout their time at Yale, fellows will benefit from studying with faculty who are leading experts in subjects such as organizational behavior, finance, human resources, operations, and behavioral science. Fellows will develop a keen understanding of the underlying forces perpetuating the persistent inequities in the U.S. healthcare system and gain the frameworks, insights, and professional connections necessary to effectively forge solutions.
David Bach, Yale SOM’s deputy dean for academic programs overseeing the MBA for Executives, explains that adding a program centered on minority health to the EMBA made perfect sense. “Our mission of educating leaders for business and society requires us to take on complex and seemingly intractable problems,” said Bach. “Leaders who understand the connections between government policy, market forces, culture and individual behavior have the best chance to go beyond merely bending the cost curve in healthcare to make systemwide, transformative improvements.”
Disparities in healthcare access and outcomes are a national problem. For example, across the country, African Americans have a lower life expectancy than whites by about three years. In individual cities, the differences can become extreme. In Philadelphia, New Orleans, and Baltimore, for example, adjacent ZIP codes can have a 20-year difference in life expectancy. The pattern recurs for individual diseases; for example, African Americans are 30% more likely than whites to die prematurely from heart disease. The causes and consequences of these disparities are manifold, with roots in institutional history, economic inequality, and access to high quality healthcare.
Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, an associate professor of medicine and of epidemiology at the Yale School of Medicine and associate professor of management at the Yale School of Management, will serve as director of the Commonwealth Fund Fellowship in Minority Health Leadership. Her own research examines how to promote healthcare equity for historically vulnerable populations, and she says it is important to develop more healthcare leaders who can focus on the issue. “This is a unique training opportunity for emerging and established leaders in minority health who are ready to broaden their impact and transform the health equity landscape,” she said.
With its mission to educate leaders for business and society, Yale SOM has a history of curricular innovation aimed at developing leaders who can tackle major challenges. The MBA for Executives program debuted in 2005 with a focus on healthcare leadership. In 2014, the program added focus areas in asset management and sustainability—fields in which graduates can have a positive impact on large portions of society through principled, creative leadership and problem-solving. The Commonwealth Fund Fellowship in Minority Health Leadership at Yale University will build on the success of the EMBA program, which has already graduated leaders across the healthcare industry, including hospital administrators, policymakers and advocates, nonprofit innovators, and entrepreneurs.
Dr. Howard P. Forman, a professor of radiology, economics, public health, and management, who co-founded the MBA for Executives and directs its healthcare curriculum, played a key role in bringing the fellowship to Yale. He says the Commonwealth Fund Fellowship in Minority Health Leadership at Yale University will extend the influence and impact of the whole program.
“Adding this focus on minority healthcare leadership furthers the founding impulse of the MBA for Executives program, which was to bring the rigor of a business school education to solving the increasingly complex problems in the immense healthcare sector—a sector that touches all of our lives,” said Forman. “The graduates of the MBA for Executives program have gone on to do remarkable work in improving patient care, outcomes, and productivity in their various organizations. We are proud that several graduates have worked, specifically, to help improve minority health and healthcare. This program will augment our capacity to train future leaders in this important area.”
The Commonwealth Fund has been working to improve healthcare and make it affordable and accessible for all Americans for the last 100 years. The fund supports research and efforts to improve healthcare practice, often with a focus on society’s most vulnerable, including low-income people, the uninsured, and people of color. The Commonwealth Fund continues to support the Commonwealth Fund Fellowship in Minority Health Policy at Harvard University, led by Dr. Joan Y. Reede since 1996.
“We cannot fully address our health system’s inequities if its leadership does not include people from the communities that have long experienced them,” said Commonwealth Fund president David Blumenthal, MD. “This fellowship will give providers of color a seat at the table as a means of making progress toward a healthcare system where everyone has access to high-quality affordable healthcare.”
Fellows will complete the EMBA curriculum by taking classes every other weekend, as well as attending two longer on-campus modules—a format that will allow them to continue in their current roles while developing new leadership capabilities. They will be part of a cohort of accomplished, motivated and diverse peers, taking core classes with students from all three focus areas and attending colloquia and specialized electives with other professionals from all facets of the healthcare industry. In addition, fellows will benefit from mentoring, immersion trips, and hands-on project opportunities centered on minority health. Graduates earn the same Yale MBA degree as full-time students and join the Yale alumni community.