Training to become a doctor in medical school is a tried and true pedagogy. Going to business school to switch occupations, start a business, or further one’s career is also a well-developed process. Going to medical school and business school to accomplish my aims, however, was a little less straightforward. When I decided during my gap year before medical school that I no longer wanted to pursue my previous lifelong dream of becoming a neurosurgeon and instead aspired towards a path leading to the intersection of healthcare and business, I found myself searching for an institution that would not only support me along this journey, but also provide me with the necessary tools to accomplish my unorthodox goals. Serendipity is a word I often overuse when discussing my story and academic career. Getting accepted to Pritzker School of Medicine prior to beginning the previously mentioned paradigm shift was nothing short of serendipitous.
Six years ago, it was difficult for me to clearly envision exactly what I would do with an MD/MBA, but I was confident even then that the program at Pritzker and Booth School of Business would provide me with clarity. An amazing medical school where I would be thrown into a challenging and growth-rich environment on the southside of Chicago combined with an elite, international business school that attracts top talent from across the world in the form of students and faculty presented the perfect amalgamation of what I needed.
As I am quickly approaching the end of my dual degree program, I often reflect on the experiences I’ve had at the University of Chicago. UofC was always described to me as an intellectually curious environment that fostered interdisciplinary collaboration and my experiences have proven that to be the case. Pritzker embraced me for who I was and am. Instead of passing judgement on my idiosyncratic journey, they provided me with more support than I ever could have expected. From the beginning I was introduced to other MD/MBAs and admissions staff at Booth. These experiences, while not a fundamental part of the Pritzker curriculum, created an opportunity for me to work for a local healthcare startup that was founded by a UChicago MD/MBA instead of conducting prototypical medical research. My career goals have been iterative these past five years – going from venture capital to private equity to ultimately my first job as a healthcare operator and none of that career exploration could’ve taken place were it not for the flexibility and encouragement Pritzker provided.
If my experience with Pritzker was a temporary introduction to a sacred order of healers, my Booth experience was more of a welcoming home. Everything about Booth and the people I’ve come to know, and love have always felt familiar. After over three years of medical school and only one year’s worth of a full-time job as a research chemist, to say I had little work experience was an understatement. A part of Booth’s welcoming process was meeting me exactly where I was when I started. From day one, as a function of the school’s curriculum, I was provided with every single resource available. “You have zero accounting experience, but want to go into healthcare private equity? Sure, let’s make it happen!” is the message I got and felt when starting at Booth. Classes and opportunities designed to meet me at my novice level and allow me to grow at whatever pace I was comfortable with were only the tip of the iceberg of what made Booth’s flexible curriculum accessible and form-fitting for me. Experiential programs like the PE Lab to hone my skills, professors turned mentors who not only continue to give me guidance, but went out of their ways to place me in positions (and New York offices) that would likely never be available to me otherwise, and alumni who took chances on me for the sake of the Booth pay-it-forward culture, are the truly invaluable parts of what makes Booth…Booth.
In many ways, after spending most of my twenty-nine years of life as a student, the ever-nearing transition to the “real world” doesn’t scare me as much as it probably should. As cliché or unbelievable as it may sound, I have Prtizker School of Medicine, Booth School of Business, and the many people I’ve met along the way to thank for that. If you had asked me five years ago if this is how I saw all of this going, I would’ve likely said “No! I could never see myself falling in love with a school – I’m not a nerd” Well, it turns out I was wrong…I am a nerd, and, more importantly, I do love this school (as imperfect and frustrating as it may occasionally be 😉 ).