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Home town: Bromall, Pennsylvania
Undergraduate education: University of Pennsylvania
"In lieu of direct experience, the case method is the best way to learn."
When Michael Farias initially arrived at Harvard Medical School, he did not think about the business side of medicine. "I thought medicine was just about treating disease," he says. "But my first year in med school opened my eyes to the economics of health care. I'd have dinners or meetings with students in the MD/MBA program. They raised so many socioeconomic factors: Can our patients afford to see us? Or get the medicines they need? Caring for a patient isn't as simple as creating a treatment plan. We need to assess what they can actually do in their specific situations."
Becoming involved in issues of access and efficiencies
Michael turned his interests into action, becoming one of the organizers behind the student-run website improvehealthcare.org, an outlet dedicated to exploring quality, access, and disparity issues in the delivery of care. "Working on the site," Michael says, "really opened my eyes to issues I had only known as statistics." It also opened a need for a business education. "I realized that if I had a better understanding of the business of health care, I could assume a management role that could help improve quality and address disparities in care."
At HBS, Michael says, "I want to draw on the experiences of classmates who understand how business really works." He is especially attracted to a curriculum rooted in real-life cases. "In lieu of direct experience," Michael believes, "the case method is the best way to learn."
Understanding the big picture
The joint MD/MBA degree allows Michael to address the big picture. "Change is going to happen," he says. "I want to take on a role by understanding both the medical and the business aspects of the health care industry." After graduation, Michael intends to concentrate on pediatrics and on initiatives focused on improving care for children. "I'm leaning toward an administrative role in hospitals," Michael says. "Today, we spend more on health care than any other country, but we don't get the best results. I'd like to lead programs that reduce costs while increasing quality."