One of the best aspects of Harvard Business School (HBS) is its proximity to the country’s best hospitals, academic centers, and culture of innovation and entrepreneurship. The Health Care Initiative regularly connects with local organizations through our Harvard partner relationships and our robust alumni network to create rich learning experiences for our students.

Recently, we sponsored a tour of the Boston Medical Center (BMC), which is the largest safety-net hospital in New England with the busiest trauma and emergency services center. With many of our students interested in improving health care delivery, this was a great opportunity for them to see the front lines of health care in action as well witness some of the behind-the-scenes flow of hospital operations.

Norman Stein, senior vice president and chief development officer, and Thea James, MD, vice president of mission and associate chief medical officer, guided 17 ECs and RCs (first- and second-year HBS students) throughout the hospital. These students got to witness how a number of hospital departments operate, including the Emergency Department, Pediatrics, and Obstetrics/Gynecology, and had the opportunity to ask many probing questions along the way, as our students love to do.

After the tour, members of the BMC executive team—which included several HBS alumni—gave a brief presentation to showcase BMC's progress over the years and underscore its culture of innovation as a safety-net hospital. Some of the innovations launched at BMC include the nation's only hospital food pantry with demo kitchen and "Streetcred." Streetcred was started several years ago by a few residents to provide free tax services to financially struggling families who are receiving care at the center. Through this program, families receive tax preparation support so they can take advantage of Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC) and other government anti-poverty programs.

Many HBS students who are pursuing health care careers are also looking for ways to disrupt the status quo and innovate to help improve health outcomes, increase access to care, and enhance quality of care. HBS-sponsored activities, such as this BMC tour, give students the opportunity to experience a health care sector that they may not have had the opportunity to experience before.

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