Kai Nip

The Yale School of Management next year will launch the Commonwealth Fund Fellowship in Minority Health Leadership, a program that aims to equip health care practitioners with the leadership and managerial skills required to address inequities in the U.S. health care system.

Every year, the program will fully fund tuition for the 22-month MBA for Executives degree program at SOM — which amounts to $180,000 — for three students. Apart from completing the EMBA curriculum with a focus on health care, fellows of the program will also have access to specialized training, immersion trips and practical project opportunities in minority health. While the first iteration of SOM’s EMBA program, founded in 2005, was health care-focused, the current formulation includes two other focus areas — sustainability and asset management. Now, students enrolled in the program study the SOM integrated core curriculum together for a year and then break out into more focused areas during their second year.

According to David Bach, SOM’s deputy dean for academic programs, the new fellowship is an important development that illustrates how Yale’s resources can be used to address critical societal challenges and how the business school can deliver on its distinctive mission of bringing leaders together to tackle the challenges facing both business and society.

“Black mothers are three times more likely to die after giving birth than their white peers,” Bach noted. “The US spends twice as much on health care as other rich countries and yet these shocking disparities persist. When you have abundant resources and poor performance, you have a management problem.”

Bach, who is also a professor of management at SOM, hopes the program will cultivate leaders who not only have clinical skills and a deep appreciation for the health care challenges facing vulnerable populations, but also possess the management skills necessary to diagnose systemic problems and drive change.

Bach and Silvia McCallister-Castillo, the assistant dean for SOM’s EMBA program, both emphasized that health care issues have been important to SOM for many years. Several SOM students are enrolled in joint degree programs with the Yale School of Public Health and the Yale School of Medicine, according to Bach.

“SOM has a solid track record of training health care professionals to tackle complex issues in a rapidly changing sector,” McCallister-Castillo said. “The financial support will allow mid-career professionals, many of whom already have medical school or nursing school loans, to pursue their passion for helping the populations that need it most, without the need for additional debt.”

The new fellowships are funded by a grant from the Commonwealth Fund, a private U.S. foundation that has funded fellowships for physicians in minority health policy at Harvard since 1996. According to the director of Yale’s MBA for Executives Program, Howard Forman, who played a key role in bringing the new fellowship to Yale, representatives from the Commonwealth Fund approached him 15 months ago and SOM won the award after a competitive grant process.

The Commonwealth Fund’s stated mission is to promote a high-performing health care system that better serves society’s most vulnerable, including low-income people, the uninsured and people of color. According to Forman, who also serves as director of the Healthcare Management Program at the Yale School of Public Health and the Healthcare Focus Area of SOM’s EMBA Program, Yale and SOM are well-suited to help deliver on this mission.

“We believe that our EMBA Program is transformational and are confident that, with properly selected students, [it] can help contribute to providing higher-quality, more accessible and lower-cost care,” Forman said. “We have lagged in specifically addressing health and healthcare disparities, particularly in vulnerable and minority populations. This fellowship immediately helps us address this glaring domestic and global challenge.”

Forman added that SOM is looking for fellows who already understand the clinical challenges associated with providing high-quality, accessible care to minority and vulnerable populations and that the program will aim to prepare them to implement better practices and lead larger organizations.

McCallister-Castillo told the News that SOM hopes to attract applications from people with diverse clinical backgrounds, who work with different ethnic and racial minority groups and both rural and urban populations.

According to the SOM website, fellows will complete the EMBA curriculum by taking classes every other weekend, as well as attending two longer on-campus modules, which will allow them to put what they learn into practice in their current professional roles.

Graduates will earn the same Yale master’s degree as full-time students.

Saumya Malhotra | saumya.malhotra@yale.edu