The HBS Summer Fellows Program enables students to apply their classroom training as they explore career opportunities in roles or regions where compensation is generally lower than the traditional MBA level. This summer, we are connecting with some of our 59 Social Enterprise Summer Fellows, who are working around the world to develop skills and knowledge while having significant responsibility and high impact.
What are you working on this summer?
This summer, I am serving as an Advisor on the Special Operations Team in the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Commissioner’s Office. Specifically, I am working on the COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence and Equity project. Many New York City residents are either hesitant to receive the vaccine or lack access to healthcare facilities to get the vaccine. Using insights from behavioral economics, public health, and strategy, I am designing interventions to increase vaccination levels for specific populations. I am helping reach vulnerable groups such as older immigrant adults, incarcerated adults, and home health workers, using focus groups and other market research to create tailored engagement plans. My work supports the Equity Team in the Vaccine Operations Center, whose goals are to achieve maximum vaccination levels in New York City, to close the vaccination gap between different boroughs and ethnic groups, and to tackle structural racism in healthcare through public health strategies and community partnerships.
Why did you choose this internship for the summer?
As a joint MD/MBA degree candidate, I was interested in this position because it is at the intersection of medicine, business, and organizational leadership. The position provides me an opportunity to apply lessons from both medical school and business school to potentially save lives. The role requires an understanding of behavioral economics, strategy, organizational behavior, and operations. Thus far in my career, my experiences have primarily been limited to the classroom and hospital. This summer, however, I have been able to reinforce my post-graduate training in medicine, business, and anthropology (I have a Master of Science in Medical Anthropology) with a real-world and practical assignment when healthcare leaders and innovators are needed most. Under the guidance of those working at the frontier of the pandemic, this experience will hopefully serve as a foundation for my future career in public service – one as both a thoughtful clinician and leader in public health policy and strategy.
What are your goals for this summer?
Growing up outside New York City, I was shocked at how different the morbidity and mortality rates were for individuals living only a few subway stops apart. These disparities only became heightened during COVID-19. By the end of this summer, I am hoping that through our efforts, we achieve significantly higher vaccination rates in non-white and poorer communities. More broadly, I aspire to become a practicing medical doctor who is simultaneously immersed in public health policy and strategy. Therefore, this summer, I plan to further explore public health service as both a doctor and businessman. I believe this position opens the door for me to have a fulfilling and long career dedicated to serving patients both at the bedside and more broadly through large projects and policy.
How has your MBA skillset prepared you to be successful in this role?
The MBA skillset is pivotal to succeeding in this internship. First, the MBA prepares with me the necessary training in strategy, behavioral economics, and organizational management. All of these skills are important in working for a government agency. Second, the MBA offers leadership and teamwork training. This summer encourages many individuals from different disciplines to use their skills synergistically to achieve the same goal and help others. The MBA and the case method in particular prepared me to thrive in this type of collaborative environment.
How as the summer influenced your thinking on future involvement in social enterprise?
Seeing the devastating impact that social forces, structural barriers, and interpersonal obstacles have on health inequities has solidified my desire to work at the intersection of medicine and public health as a both a practicing physician and policymaker. Healthcare has the potential to function as a great equalizer, but only if physicians can treat disease as more than mere biological abnormalities. The natural and social sciences are interconnected, and I am fascinated by how their intersection shapes health and treatment of disease. This summer has reaffirmed my commitment to using my multidisciplinary background to work in social enterprise at the intersection of medicine, policy, and business to create policy and target public health interventions for our country’s most at-risk populations.
To learn more about the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, as well as our team’s specific initiatives, please check out the website.