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2020 Best & Brightest Online MBAs: Martha Buckley, North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler)

Martha Buckley

University of North Carolina, Kenan-Flagler Business School

“Experienced physician executive who is passionate about transforming healthcare. Ardent believer in “Work Hard, Play Hard”.”

Age:  45

Hometown:  Born and raised in Norton, Ohio. Currently reside in Lancaster, Ohio.

Fun fact about yourself:  I played the mellophone and was drum major for the UNC Marching Tar Heels when I was an undergrad.

Undergraduate School and Degree:

  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Bachelor of Science in Biology
  • The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Doctor of Medicine

Where are you currently working?  I am a practicing physician (Hospitalist) at Grant Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio, and a member of OhioHealth Physician Group.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career?  Earning my MBA while practicing medicine and raising four children is a true highlight for me. I began the program as a novice in finance, marketing, economics, and even Excel. The learning curve was steep! In fact, I recall welling up with tears during my first accounting exam when I looked over at my daughter who was holding a sign: “You can do it Mommy!” The coursework was very challenging, not just due to the rigorous content but also the pre-existing demands of life, work, and family. Hopefully, my struggles and successes can inspire others to go for it!  It was hard work, but so worth it.

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program?  Kenan-Flagler’s prestigious reputation for quality and rigor made it a top candidate. MBA@UNC further distinguished itself by its program maturity and augmentation of virtual and synchronous learning with global summits in various cities around the world. Additionally, I considered MBA programs specifically for physicians that were more condensed and “focused.” While the familiarity of learning alongside my medical colleagues would have been pleasant and comfortable, I wanted to learn how to think differently and approach the world of medicine from a whole new perspective.  Healthcare desperately needs sparks of innovation, and it just might be coming from those outside of medicine who help make that happen.

What was the most surprising thing about an online learning environment? I was initially skeptical about virtual learning, concerned it may seem detached and less engaging. Quite the contrary! Participating in live sessions every week and progressing through the program with my cohort has resulted in friendships and networks far broader than I imagined. In fact, the virtual nature of the program has allowed me to network well beyond the geographic limits of a traditional on-campus program.

How did your online experience compare with your in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student?  First, I had to up my tech-savvy by several-fold! (Who knew there was really an app called Slack?) In many ways, this program was actually more challenging and rewarding than traditional classroom experiences. It required more self-discipline and a whole new level of time management, yet afforded flexibility and a continuation of family and work life. The global nature of the students and faculty also allowed a far more diverse experience.

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant for thriving in an online MBA program?  Push yourself into uncomfortable domains that require stretch and growth. The diversity of thought, professions, and culture will reward you with an expanded worldview and a much broader knowledge base. You will be a more effective leader as a result of your courage.

What would you change about an online MBA Program?  Offering global and experiential learning opportunities is an invaluable feature of Kenan-Flagler’s program. Gathering in cities around the world allowed us to learn from one another and our host country in very powerful ways. Expanding these programs and including other disciplines such as medicine and public health could enrich the program even further.

How has your online education helped you in your current job?  I now understand much better the “why” behind my observations in healthcare, particularly my several years as a hospital vice president. Altruism drew most physicians into medicine, yet market forces have significantly altered how we care for our patients. By understanding how the business world works, I’m better able to devise win/win solutions for patients AND the bottom line.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I am driven to help transform healthcare. Our existing system in the U.S. must evolve for the betterment of patients, physicians, and payors alike. Many work tirelessly to improve the lives of others out of an abundance of goodwill and empathy, yet behaviors in healthcare are often driven by money. If we can reimagine a system that improves meaningful outcomes for patients, restores the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship, and proves financially viable, then true progress will follow. Physicians and leaders must harness useful technology and utilize design thinking to evolve our approach. Indeed, a quote attributed to Henry Ford seems apropos: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Healthcare needs a car, not just faster horses.

Don’t Miss: The Entire Honor Roll of the Best & Brightest Online MBA Grads of 2020

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