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Business of Medicine program aids physician's return to health

August 2, 2016

Dr. Roger Shinnerl still enjoys playing golf.

Southern Indiana physician Roger Shinnerl has fond memories of this round of golf, holing out from 128 yards on this hole at Victoria National Golf Club in Newburgh, Ind., during a scramble, giving his team an eagle. But in 2015, he had a close call on another nearby course. | PHOTO COURTESY OF ROGER SHINNERL

Roger Shinnerl is enjoying a return to his college roots in the Business of Medicine MBA program offered by the Kelley School of Business Indianapolis for physicians who want to be more in tune with the challenges offered by the changing world of health care.

That may not be a surprise when you consider that just over a year ago, the 49-year-old vascular surgeon from the Evansville area barely survived a close call with death and now finds time in the classroom and homework demands "surprisingly manageable."

Colleagues help him survive a close call

In May 2015, Shinnerl was playing a round of golf with other doctors at the Rolling Hills Country Club in Newburgh, Ind., near Evansville. "I leaned over to pick up a wedge, and I woke up with a broken rib from CPR," he said. Shinnerl survived because his playing partners knew what to do: one provided CPR; another did mouth-to-mouth resuscitation; and the third called the clubhouse for an automated external defibrillator, or AED, and then called 911.

"The survival rate for sudden cardiac arrest cases outside of a clinical setting is less than 5 percent," Shinnerl said. "I was in the right foursome that day."

But he wasn't out of the woods. An implantable AED-like device placed in his chest helped him survive two subsequent arrhythmia episodes, and he's had to give up operating on patients for now. But the two-year Kelley MBA program has offered a welcome change.

"Professor Tony Cox coordinates a diverse business faculty to provide a challenging curriculum," Shinnerl said. "It has given me plenty to do when I needed it most, and it's been good focusing on different aspects of business. As physicians, we're kind of used to being the best at what we do. But this course has taught me that it's OK to be a newbie with a lot to learn. All of us in the group have been out of training for many years, and most aren't as facile with the latest technologies and spreadsheets as younger graduate business school students might be." He credits the faculty and particularly program director Susannah Gawor with knowing how to "show a little tender loving guidance."

Business of Medicine MBA offers a change of pace

Shinnerl is enthusiastic in his support for the Business of Medicine program. "We are in a tremendous period of transition in health care," he said. "It's important that we as physicians learn to handle these changes. This can be difficult when we're working long hours focusing on our patients and trying to stay current in our clinical fields."

Given how useful most of the course material is, Shinnerl admits "I find myself wishing I'd learned all these things I'm studying now when I was in my 20s," he said with a laugh. "It has definitely changed my perspective about business matters."

He loves interacting with fellow physicians from around the country on a regular basis, noting that "everyone is committed to bringing intelligent physician leadership to health care board rooms. In many ways, I'm not unhappy with what happened to me. I'm so fortunate to be alive and with my family. It also has given me the chance to be a part of this great program."


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