University of Tennessee

Physician Leadership Symposium Draws Audience of Physician Executive MBA Alumni and Students

May 16, 2016

A panel of physicians from around the country gathered April 29-30 at the Haslam College of Business at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, for a symposium on current health care topics including the future of health care reform, achieving population health in specific markets and improving organizational performance.

The symposium took place before an on-campus residence period of the college’s top-ranked Physician Executive MBA (PEMBA) program, which was held May 1-7.

Ghazala Sharieff, a 2011 graduate of the Haslam PEMBA program, spoke at the symposium on the topic of integrating physicians into a health system. An emergency pediatric physician, she is the corporate director of physician outreach and medical management at the Scripps Health Network in San Diego.

“I chose the Haslam PEMBA program for a number of reasons,” Sharieff said. “The fact that it is a one-year program was attractive to me because it does require a lot of effort. As an emergency physician, I like to ‘get in, and get out.’”

Sharieff added that the physicians-only aspect of the program combined with its on-campus residency periods gave her a sense of camaraderie and belonging.

“Many other programs are completely online, and I felt that wouldn’t be enough for me,” Sharieff said. “I really wanted that in-person time for bonding, camaraderie and networking. I came to the program at a challenging point in my career when I was feeling disillusioned with health care. The program really rescued me. It introduced me to people who share my ethics, values and integrity.”

Jerry Blackwell, a cardiologist and president of the Wellmont CVA Heart Institute in Kingsport, Tennessee, attended the symposium as an alumnus of the Haslam PEMBA program.

“Health care may be the most complex business venture in the world,” said Blackwell, who received his MBA in 2014. “It presents a complex management scenario requiring knowledge on both the business and physician side of the equation.”

Blackwell added that often health care providers’ executive suites consist entirely of businesspeople. “The reason I chose Haslam’s PEMBA program was to learn the language of business. I wanted to be able to take my clinical training and have a dialogue on the executive level,” Blackwell said.

In the week following the symposium, the class of about 50 current PEMBA students remained at the Haslam College of Business to learn about topics including: lean businesses practices for health care, strategic planning and corporate strategy, market segmentation and targeting, organizational change, health care analytics and customer satisfaction measurement.

Sharieff, before returning to San Diego, pointed out the students will have access to Haslam faculty even after receiving their MBA.

“The faculty are amazing. Even after five years they are still accessible to my class. I think it’s phenomenal to be able to reach out to a faculty member and have them get right back to you,” Sharieff said.