February 1998 Bulletin

Itís back-to-school time for physician executives

Donít try to reach Robert H. Haralson, III, MD, between 9 a.m. and noon on Saturdays. Heís likely to be in front of his computer, attending a class of the Physician Executive MBA program.

Dr. Haralson is one of 25 physicians enrolled in the first class of the MBA program at the College of Business Administration, University of Tennessee. The one-year program, which began in January, was designed to teach physicians the professional business and organizational skills they need to move from a clinical role to a leadership role in todayís healthcare environment, says Michael J. Stahl, PhD, program director.

Dr. Haralson says he enrolled because heís now the medical director of a 32-person orthopaedic practice that is the result of the merger of four practices in Knoxville, Maryville and Oak Ridge, Tenn. The former Academy treasurer says heís always been interested in administration.

The program also includes an anesthesiologist, emergency room physician, family physician, internal medicine physician, pediatrician, plastic surgeon and radiation oncologist. The average age of the physicians attending the program is 47 years old. Most practice in Tennessee, but others are from California to New Jersey. Tuition is $40,000.

Designed to fit physiciansí busy work schedules, the program requires students to attend one week of classes at the Knoxville campus, only four times during the year, at the start of learning "modules." The remainder of the time they attend classes via computers, using state-of-the-art audio and data conferencing that allows real-time interactive, instructor-led classes that replicate face-to-face classrooms. The 40 Saturday morning classes are supplemented by readings and/or homework.

In April 1996, Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. asked the University of Tennessee to offer a customized program to educate physicians for management roles. After Columbia/HCA became the target of multiple investigations by the U.S. government and several states over billing practices, the organization backed away from the program and focused full attention on the probes and its own future.

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