Meet UNC Kenan-Flagler’s MBA Class of 2021

Breanna Johnson

University of North Carolina, Kenan-Flagler Business School

“I believe healthcare should be accessible and sustainable. I am excited to see how innovation can get us there.”

Hometown: Cary, North Carolina

Fun Fact About Yourself: I was a ballerina and ballroom dancer in a previous life.

Undergraduate School and Major:

Harvard College, Human Developmental and Regenerative Biology, BA

University of North Carolina School of Medicine, MD

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: University of California San Francisco Breast Care Center, Clinical Research Coordinator

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I am proud of the Quality Improvement Project I initiated as a third-year medical student at Wakebrook Primary Care, a behavioral health facility that provides primary care for patients with severe psychiatric illness. The goal of the project was to increase the number of pap smears completed at Wakebrook Primary Care by 300% from the monthly baseline. I organized a Women’s Wellness Day and collaborated with assertive community treatment teams, social workers, psychiatrists, and local businesses to offer Pap smears, mammograms, nutrition and exercise tools, and tobacco cessation to our underserved patients. I partnered with Uber Health to provide transportation for all patients. I presented my findings and was awarded research poster contest winner at the North Carolina Academy of Family Physicians Annual Winter Family Physicians Weekend in Asheville, North Carolina. The best part of this experience was spending time with the patients and staff at Wakebrook.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Respectfully curious. Everyone has a genuine interest in learning about the variety of backgrounds and perspectives that make up our class. I feel like I am learning from each interaction I have with a classmate.

Aside from your classmates, what was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? I am completing the dual-degree MD/MBA at UNC.  I attended three years of medical school at UNC and could not be more impressed with the teaching and collaborative culture of the school.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I am looking forward to exploring the Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Club, as well as the Venture Capital Investment Competition. I am excited to learn about opportunities in venture capital and how we can make investments that drive innovation and change in the healthcare field.

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I have a number of role models in my family in the healthcare field – physicians, psychologists, and nurses. They have all expressed a desire to have a greater understanding of the financial factors that determine how we create value and deliver care.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? I was sold on UNC from the start.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? I spoke with upperclassmen pursuing the MD/MBA dual degree to learn about the program and hear about their experiences. Everyone loved the UNC program and encouraged me to apply.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? Ballet has been a defining experience in my life and shaped who I am today. Since the age of four, I have been trained in classical ballet. A childhood of painful blisters and grueling workouts taught me the importance of discipline and focus as well as the value of flexibility and strength. My commitment matured when I left my hometown in North Carolina and attended the School of American Ballet in New York and the Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle. The audition process and the six-week ballet journeys exposed me to a world of diversity and passion – a world where I felt like I belonged. In order to live immersed in the worlds of both artistry and academia without late-night studying and sleep deprivation, I had to master the art of balance. Time management became a virtue as I learned to juggle a plethora of demands. Although my interests and passions have transformed throughout the years, I have still held onto that belief of balance as a method to maintain a healthy and fulfilling life.

Where do you see yourself in ten years? I am still learning about opportunities at the intersection of business and medicine, and am excited about what my last two years of the MD/MBA will teach me. I am both motivated and inspired by my role models as well as cognizant of the challenges that lie ahead – whether it is preventing burnout, leading as a woman in business and healthcare, or facing our healthcare system at large. In ten years, I see myself feeling confident that the work I am doing is making a positive impact.

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