For a business school internationally recognized in the nonprofit and governmental sectors and praised for its multi-disciplinary approach to teaching, it is fitting that the Yale School of Management is starting to blaze a trail in the healthcare industry.

As part of a broad effort to explore teaching and scholarship regarding the healthcare industry, the SOM today will host a conference called “Healthcare 2005: A Workshop on Pursuing Effective Business Leadership and Management of Healthcare Enterprise.” The conference will feature national representatives from the pharmaceutical, managed care, insurance, assisted living and health care consulting arenas, amongst others.

“The School of Management has a focus across several sectors in business and society: for-profit, not-for-profit and government spheres — health care as a sector cuts across all three,” said conference organizer Sam Forman SOM ’95, the medical director of American Healthways, a national disease management corporation.

SOM Deputy Dean Stan Gartska said the school is particularly interested in hosting the conference because it is seeking to build a network of SOM alumni working in the healthcare arena.

“The arena of healthcare fits marvelously well with the SOM because it fits our multi-sector vision and also because we want to integrate with the rest of Yale,” Garstka said. “This is like a lightning rod to integrate with the rest of campus.”

The conference will educate students planning on entering both the business and healthcare fields, said Randy Johnson SOM ’84, director of the new “M.B.A. for Executives: Leadership in Healthcare” program at the SOM.

“One of the huge benefits of doing this is bringing alumni back here, giving them a chance to see what is happening here at Yale, not only at the SOM,” Johnson said. “This will start the networking of different sub-populations within the University as a whole and start to build some momentum around healthcare.”

Laura Hill EPH ’06, who helped to organize the conference, said her time at Yale’s Department of Epidemiology and Public Health has taught her about ways various healthcare industries work together.

In recent years, Yale has seen students in the SOM’s full-time M.B.A. program interested in pursuing careers in healthcare and cross-registering in public health classes. Similarly, there has been a growing number of joint M.D. and M.B.A. degree candidates, Johnson said. He attributed this rise as a direct response to the opportunities that students see within the healthcare industry.

“Some parts of the sector are pretty darn inefficient and irrational,” Johnson said. “A lot of students and professors are looking at this and saying this is a social need, something worth doing.”

Along with many of his colleagues, Johnson said he believes that contributing to the healthcare sector is also a worthy mission.

“I think that there is a widely understood need to change the way we think about and deliver healthcare in America,” Johnson said.

The conference will seek to explore those changes in perception of healthcare as an industry. Some students said the conference, which will feature representatives from pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, American Healthways and the American Red Cross, has generated a mostly positive response from their peers.

“We are pretty close to selling out,” Hill said. “I am going to guess we fill the rooms to capacity.”