Meet the MBA Class of 2022: Amanda Pearson, University of Washington (Foster)

Amanda Pearson

University of Washington, Michael G. Foster School of Business

“I am a nurse aspiring to improve and innovate in American health care.”

Hometown: Atlanta, GA

Fun Fact About Yourself: I lived in Istanbul, Turkey for six years after college and loved the opportunity to immerse myself in the culture, as well as to travel all over Europe, the Middle East and North Africa!

Undergraduate School and Major: I have two bachelor’s degrees, both from Georgetown University! My first was in International Relations, and my second was in Nursing.

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: MedStar Washington Hospital Center, Charge Nurse, Neurosciences/COVID Intensive Care Unit

What makes Seattle such a great place to earn an MBA? I chose Seattle for graduate school due to the almost unmatched trifecta of academic opportunity at Foster, excellent city and outdoor sights to explore in my time outside of class, and the abundant compelling professional opportunities for internships and jobs right in our backyard!

Aside from your classmates and location, what was the key part of the school’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? I chose Foster in part due to the customizable academic experience. I am looking forward to developing my quantitative and analytical skills through Foster’s core classes, and I appreciate that students have the ability to take a large number of electives that we choose to complement our varied interests. For example, I plan to take the Health Innovation Practicum and Globalization of Healthcare Services & the Biotech Industry.

What club or activity excites you most at this school? I am most excited about Foster’s Healthcare and Biotechnology club! This group provides an amazing platform from which to develop early relationships with the major players in regional and national health care, as well as innovative startups at the cutting edge of science and medicine.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: The biggest accomplishment in my career thus far was leading the transition of my most recent intensive care unit as we doubled in size, took on a new patient population, and then converted into a COVID ICU. I lead an initiative to train our entire staff on the care of critically ill vascular surgery patients, then planned the logistics of moving our patients and equipment across the hospital and growing into a new space. A year or so later when COVID struck Washington, DC, I adapted our practices and protocols to new requirements and trained newer staff on the care of these complex patients.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I chose to pursue an MBA at this point in my career – which is a bit later than most – for several reasons.  Once I gained enough experience in nursing to pull my head up from patient care, I began to observe many systemic problems that directly impact Americans’ health and the quality of health services delivery. These problems deeply concerned me, but I felt unable to effectively influence them from my clinical position. I have a strong desire to impact larger populations and to lead change in health care. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that an MBA would be the best transition out of the clinical world and into such a role. I believe that my frontline patient experience coupled with the new skills I acquire from business school will allow to make incredibly valuable contributions to my future organization.

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? My most challenging question was actually during my Foster interview! My interviewer asked me to pretend that I was a consultant and requested that I analyze Foster’s marketing strategies based on my personal experience, and then create multiple suggestions for improvement. I was thrown for a loop, but I think I was able to come up with some salient points!

How did you determine your fit at various schools? When I was assessing schools for my MBA, I looked at academic strengths and offerings, geographic location, the professional success of previous graduates, and the ability to access academic and professional health care opportunities. I think the most important information I gained in terms of “fit” came from my conversations with current MBA students and recent graduates – I was able to understand the student culture and received unfiltered feedback about the pros and cons of each program.

What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? My most recent defining moment was the COVID-19 surge I experienced while working as an ICU nurse in a Washington, DC trauma center. The unprecedented overflow of patients at all-time high acuity levels strained our resources and forced clinicians to stretch like never before. As a nurse, I had to navigate constantly changing research, protocols, and PPE supply to care for patients hovering on the brink of death due to a disease whose pathophysiology was (and remains) somewhat of a mystery. While COVID-19 presented extreme challenges, I am proud of the extra mile I went to provide excellent care for my patients and their families, and I am amazed at how quickly my team successfully implemented new technology to overcome communication and other logistical barriers presented by the isolation requirements for these patients. This pandemic has exposed serious deficiencies in our health care system. For me, this both confirmed my resilience in the face of adversity and renewed my focus on leading change and innovation in the health services space.

What special ingredient do you see yourself bringing to the Class of 2022? How will that enrich the MBA experience? As far as I know, I am the only health care provider in my class at Foster, so I bring a distinct background and more niche professional interest to the class. I think my contributions related to a recent experience with COVID patients will be relevant and interesting as well.

What is your favorite company and what could business students learn from them? My favorite company is Johnson & Johnson. I think it is so important that a huge organization operates based on its credo, which puts patients, providers, and employees first, but also manages to achieve financial success while making significant contributions to humanity.

DON’T MISS: Meet The MBA Class Of 2022: The COVID Cohorts

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