The “Health Sector Consulting” Course: Enhancing Student Learning Through Hands-On Projects

in Graduate Students, Health Sector, SMG Hot Topics, Students
October 27th, 2010

From Inside Healthcare, September 2010

Health Sector Management Program (HSM) is designed to prepare students for the rigorous and often challenging world of consulting. As the world shifts toward a more translational and accountable environment, new companies will require fundamental market analysis and advice. Even the larger, currently existing organizations need to evolve or risk being left behind. This holds true for both pharmaceutical organizations and hospitals.

Bio-pharma, academic medical centers, clinical diagnostics companies, and local as well as national companies are all represented in the diversity of the projects that the students pursue.

This course was developed by and is taught by Professor Bobbi Clarke, drawing on her deep knowledge of the field. Keith Aspinall has recently joined the Health Sector Management Program to provide a second version of the course to expand student opportunities.

A Truly Out-Of-Class Experience

Bio-pharma, academic medical centers, clinical diagnostics companies, and local as well as national companies are all represented in the diversity of the projects that the students pursue. This type of learning experience draws on the breadth of classroom education but extends beyond traditional course work to apply and further develop skills in a real-world setting.

The Health Sector Consulting course is a truly out-of-class experience. Students meet as a class only four times throughout the semester. The rest of the time is spent working on a live consulting project. Individual team meetings with the professor provide the groups with guidance along the way:

  • The first meeting is the kick-off to discuss the consulting rules of thumb and organize into teams.
  • At the second meeting, students receive background materials on their companies and projects. They are charged to define the primary objectives. How can they help this company?
  • The third meeting, midway through the projects, brings all of the participants back together to have a group learning session. They discuss the challenges each team faced and also share their best practices.
  • At the fourth meeting, the students will fulfill their final class deliverable, giving a presentation of their findings and recommendations to the companies.

Combining Core MBA Principles with Learning from HSM Classes

The projects challenge the students to take an ambiguous scenario and apply analytical and interpersonal skills alike to obtain information and get results in the face of adversity. They tackle questions about the marketing, financial, and operational sides of the organization.

The projects challenge the students to take an ambiguous scenario and apply analytical and interpersonal skills alike to obtain information and get results in the face of adversity.

Some groups focus on external factors of an organization through competitive analysis to determine threats to the business. Others look inward to restructure or enhance the operations. They apply not only their core MBA principles but the background gained from their other HSM classes.

Having completed a full consulting engagement from this course, the students have the confidence to proceed into the world with personal knowledge of the steps necessary to gather information, synthesize data, and present findings.