MBA student adding MD to boost his career options

May 11, 2018

Sondheim stands with Birch in their white coats.

Samuel E. Sondheim, MBA ’18, MD ’19, is a trailblazer. He set out to earn a medical degree from Quinnipiac in 2014 and along the path, he discovered that he had more than a passing interest in how health care systems operate.

Sondheim took several courses in the School of Business as part of his capstone requirement for the Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine and an idea began to take shape. He wondered if it might be possible for him to get both an MD and an MBA with the intention of practicing emergency medicine and blending that with a career in health care administration.

He nervously proposed the idea to Bruce Koeppen, dean of the Frank H. Netter School of Medicine. He braced himself for a ‘no,’ but he recalls Koeppen saying, “Let’s make it work.”

On May 12, Sondheim will collect his MBA in health care management during the first of two Graduate Commencement ceremonies being held this weekend. He took a break from medical school this past year to finish the MBA. In June, it’s back to the medical school for his fourth and final year, which includes clinical work, applying and interviewing for residencies, and graduating with his MD next May. He will be the first Quinnipiac student to have earned both degrees.

“It’s been a fun and interesting ride,” said Sondheim, who lives in the Bronx, New York, with his wife, Shelly, a special education teacher. They were married last summer.

Besides taking courses that focused on health care finance, health law and human resources, his desire to pursue the two degrees was fueled by an internship during the summer after his first year of medical school.

At New York Presbyterian Hospital, Sondheim learned about the operational side of medicine, taking efficiency and proper utilization of people and resources into account.

“We found that the average wait time from a patient’s arrival at the emergency room to being admitted and arriving at a room was often nearly 18 hours, far too long,” he said.

In between his studies, Sondheim carved out time to serve as co-president of the QU student chapter of the American College of Healthcare Executives, helping to plan a career fair and an internship fair, among other events.

He also co-authored a paper published in September 2017 for the Journal of Healthcare Management with Angela Mattie, professor and chair of Quinnipiac’s Health Care Management and Organizational Leadership programs and Kurt Barwis, president and CEO of Bristol Hospital in Connecticut. The article examined that small community hospital’s successful transition from one emergency care center physician group to another with the outcome of improving patient care.

At times, it was challenging to balance studying for medical school exams with his course work in the School of Business, but Sondheim said adding the fifth year made it manageable. “I had great advisers who were flexible and who worked with me as we ironed out the details.”

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