“Having an ongoing research project also helped me get a lot out of the courses I was taking in my first two years, as I was able to directly apply the course materials to my own research.”
I became passionate about health policy and operations management while I was working with community health worker programs in rural Uganda. I witnessed firsthand the gaps in coordination that needed to be bridged, and spent a lot of time speaking with village members, community health workers, district health officers, and others about how to increase efficiency and productivity in the face of severe resource constraints. I decided I would be better equipped to answer these questions by learning more about research in operations management. In addition to academic rigor, I wanted to make sure I would maintain practical relevance and significance vis-à-vis the health care field. I felt that the Health Policy Management program would provide the perfect environment to combine and explore my interests further.
My research focuses on health care operations, coordination, and the productivity of the health care workforce. I am currently working on several projects that examine various operational and organizational factors that may affect worker productivity and quality of care. One of my projects explores the impact of different queue management systems on service times in the Emergency Department of a hospital. Another considers the impact of the cohort turnover of resident physicians on resource utilization and health care quality in teaching hospitals.
Health Policy Management Program
This is a truly unique program that brings together health policy and a disciplinary area of management -- in my case, operations management. It trains students to become an expert in both fields and supports us in doing research at the intersection of the two. In fact, students take two sets of qualifying exams, one in health policy and another in an area of focus within management. This uncompromising rigor and the stellar faculty lay a strong foundation for incredible research.
Another aspect of this program that I find unique and rewarding is that it encourages students to engage in research very early on. I was fortunate to begin working on a project with my advisor Rob Huckman starting the day I arrived on campus. This was a very helpful and productive way to explore my areas of interest and learn from an incredible mentor. Having an ongoing research project also helped me get a lot out of the courses I was taking in my first two years, as I was able to directly apply the course materials to my own research.
The HBS Experience
HBS is a place where students are encouraged and expected to be self-driven and entrepreneurial. As a student in the Health Policy Management program, you have the freedom to work with faculty not only at HBS but also across several Harvard graduate schools — including the Medical School, the Public Health School, and the Kennedy School. This means that each student can craft a unique and personalized path that best suits his or her particular interests. While this is wonderful, it can also be overwhelming. That said, the terrific mentorship and guidance from the faculty, program directors, and upper-year students helps steer students in the right direction.
Advice for prospective students
Be open to new ideas. Attend seminars, have lunch with your colleagues, and always stay engaged. Generating new, interesting, and relevant ideas is much easier when you aren’t just running regressions by yourself in your office. Part of what makes a program like this amazing is the brilliant minds of your faculty and colleagues, so make the most of it.