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Friday, September 09, 2011 - Collaborative experience, real-world experts adds value to EMBA program

Throughout his 13 years in family medicine, Dr. Christopher Milback firmly believed in the benefits of preventative health care.


But it wasn’t until he completed his capstone project for his Executive MBA (EMBA) degree at Oakland University’s School of Business Administration that he was able to connect the positive impact of preventative medicine to health care’s bottom line.


For his capstone assignment, Milback made a case for investing upfront not only in primary medical care, but investing equally in well-chosen preventative measures.


“I identified the value of primary care,” says Milback, EMBA ’10. “If you can help patients make lifestyle modifications, you can improve patients’ lives and do it at a lower cost.


“It’s just a wise investment,” he continues. “When you invest in immunizations, exercise programs and well visits, you can delay the onset of some conditions -- or prevent them altogether.”


Milback, who graduated with honors from the EMBA program last May, is excited to put his EMBA experiences to work in his new role as Chief of the Department of Family Medicine at William Beaumont Hospital, Troy.


Milback was more than halfway through the EMBA program when he was promoted from his previous role as Medical Director of the Beaumont Family Medicine Center in Sterling Heights.


“My goal now is to maintain the things I have a passion for -- clinical care and teaching residents – and then expanding and utilizing the knowledge and skills I’ve gained, possibly within the community.”


Eventually he’d like to move into an administrative role. “I would like to collaborate with others to make health care a much more sound system and make sure it is addressing patients’ needs. It’s an exciting time to be in health care.”      


Milback, who earned his medical degree from the State University of New York at Syracuse in 1997, began considering an EMBA program several years ago.


“In my role as a physician in the last 13 years I focused primarily on clinical responsibilities,” Milback says. “It became apparent to me that physician leaders need additional skills they may not have received in a medical school setting.


“I saw a need to be aware of what goes into the decisions made in health care and to have a better understanding of the business world,” he says.


Milback researched EMBA programs throughout the country. OU’s EMBA program stood out as a strong candidate from the beginning.


“I knew Oakland University had an excellent reputation for a number of areas of study,” he says.


As he researched the EMBA program at OU’s SBA, he found he liked the idea of small cohorts, the scheduling flexibility and the involvement of local business experts in cooperation with university faculty. After meeting with a program representative, he felt certain it would be a good fit.


That conviction was reinforced once he entered the program in 2008. “The collaborative nature of the program made me most enthusiastic about it,” he says.


Not only did his cohort consist of physicians, it included IT professionals, pharmacists and small business owners. “It was an opportunity to share diverse knowledge,” Milback says. “Other programs don’t have that flavor to them. You need those personal interactions.”


He was further impressed with the caliber of the program faculty and the business representatives he interacted with from week to week.


“We’ve got really great academic experts at OU combining their knowledge with real-world experts from the business world,” Milback says. “That really is one of the program’s strengths. Bringing that into a small group setting enriches collaboration and discussion. It’s really a well-kept secret.”


In addition to his role with Beaumont Hospital, Troy, Milback is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Family Medicine at the Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine and at the Wayne State University School of Medicine.

OU’s Executive MBA program is designed for professionals who are currently engaged in successful careers and want to build a strong business foundation while enhancing their leadership and management skills. The program offers the schedule flexibility required for a full-time executive. Concentrations in health care management and information systems leadership are available. The two-year program meets biweekly for classes and offers online support and flexibility to accommodate working professionals attending school while working. A maximum of 30 students are admitted to the 39-credit hour, 21-month program annually.




By Flori Meeks