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Eval/Advice: Switching to Healthcare Management Realistic?

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Eval/Advice: Switching to Healthcare Management Realistic? [#permalink] New post 07 Jun 2013, 04:59
I am looking to transition into healthcare management from investor relations (in spec pharma). I know that people who choose this route usually have a science/finance background, so I was wondering if the switch would be difficult for someone like me.

Undergraduate: Top 10 liberal arts school.
GPA: 3.53
Work Experience: I will have 4-4.5 years of work experience at matriculation if I apply in the next year or two (and assuming someone accepts the likes of me). After college, I spent 8 months as a researcher at a grant-making foundation. Then, I took time off for a year to take care of a sick family member while studying for the LSAT (no regrets). Instead of pursuing law school, I decided to go back into the workplace at an investor relations firm in marketing for a year and a half. Next, I went into a corporate investor relations role, but at a specialty pharmaceuticals company. I really enjoy the complex and nuanced nature of this industry, particularly the strategizing aspect of my job where I work closely with management and interact across all departments, but have grown dissatisfied with the limited growth opportunities career-wise. Thus, my interest in transitioning into HC management consulting.

Extracurriculars: I have always volunteered throughout high school and college, although I haven't been able to do so while working. I recently joined a fund development team at a nonprofit that provides screening services for the underprivileged and minorities. I have been asked to head it and will accept if I am certain that I can provide the dedicated time and commitment.

GMAT: I scored in the high 600s. I plan to dedicate more time to studying when I get closer to a decided application cycle.

School targets: I know I am extremely overestimating myself, and that Wharton, Yale SOM, Kellogg, and Duke have excellent programs that are all reaches for me. I have also been looking at Columbia, NYU, and MIT, which are also reaches.

I would appreciate input on 1. if I have any chance at the above schools through improvement 2. what parts of my profile I would need to improve upon, and 3. what other schools and programs I should be exploring. Thank you for your time!
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Re: Eval/Advice: Switching to Healthcare Management Realistic? [#permalink] New post 07 Jun 2013, 17:43
ladylazarus,
You definitely have a chance at those schools if you can raise your GMAT as close to the 80th percentile (quant/verbal) as you can. In terms of improving your profile, you should commit to the fund development NGO work and ramp it up ASAP to strengthen your leadership, network through professional associations in the healthcare management space to establish your "bona fides" as an HCM career switcher, and consider applying early decision to either CBS or Duke. MIT and Wharton will be much tougher than Duke, but perhaps also consider Tuck. I'd be happy to give your resume a closer look: paulbodine@yahoo.com.

--Paul Bodine, Great Applications for Business School, www.paulsbodine.com/testimonials


ladylazarus wrote:
I am looking to transition into healthcare management from investor relations (in spec pharma). I know that people who choose this route usually have a science/finance background, so I was wondering if the switch would be difficult for someone like me.

Undergraduate: Top 10 liberal arts school.
GPA: 3.53
Work Experience: I will have 4-4.5 years of work experience at matriculation if I apply in the next year or two (and assuming someone accepts the likes of me). After college, I spent 8 months as a researcher at a grant-making foundation. Then, I took time off for a year to take care of a sick family member while studying for the LSAT (no regrets). Instead of pursuing law school, I decided to go back into the workplace at an investor relations firm in marketing for a year and a half. Next, I went into a corporate investor relations role, but at a specialty pharmaceuticals company. I really enjoy the complex and nuanced nature of this industry, particularly the strategizing aspect of my job where I work closely with management and interact across all departments, but have grown dissatisfied with the limited growth opportunities career-wise. Thus, my interest in transitioning into HC management consulting.

Extracurriculars: I have always volunteered throughout high school and college, although I haven't been able to do so while working. I recently joined a fund development team at a nonprofit that provides screening services for the underprivileged and minorities. I have been asked to head it and will accept if I am certain that I can provide the dedicated time and commitment.

GMAT: I scored in the high 600s. I plan to dedicate more time to studying when I get closer to a decided application cycle.

School targets: I know I am extremely overestimating myself, and that Wharton, Yale SOM, Kellogg, and Duke have excellent programs that are all reaches for me. I have also been looking at Columbia, NYU, and MIT, which are also reaches.

I would appreciate input on 1. if I have any chance at the above schools through improvement 2. what parts of my profile I would need to improve upon, and 3. what other schools and programs I should be exploring. Thank you for your time!

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Re: Eval/Advice: Switching to Healthcare Management Realistic? [#permalink] New post 22 Jun 2013, 09:30
I think a career switch is fine because you are not a double switcher (i.e. you are already in the healthcare industry but in pharmaceuticals). Make sure to highlight those skills sets that are transferable to healthcare management.

I would also recommend you accept the fund development team position to show continued community service.

Your GMAT score is weaker so in an ideal world you could retake it again if you have time. I would still recommend, though, that you apply to Fuqua Duke as it is a doable reach. If you apply to Columbia, strongly consider Early Decision as your chances will be greater (Duke as well). I think you are competitive for NYU Stern. You might wish to consider Cornell as closer to a safety.

Good luck,
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Re: Eval/Advice: Switching to Healthcare Management Realistic? [#permalink] New post 22 Jun 2013, 10:24
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Hi there,

I agree with Paul. You have an interesting profile and an improved GMAT score along with your leadership position at the nonprofit will only serve to strengthen it. The high 600s isn't a bad foundation and given your background, I would really hone in on improving your verbal score. Any improvement here will have disproportionate benefits to your overall percentile. It isn't critical for each section to be in a certain percentile. If you can get the overall score where you want it, your story can speak to any concerns raised if one component is lower than you'd like. From a career switch perspective, you have nothing to worry about. Your goal is both realistic and ambitious. You at least have some ties that can be leveraged to justify the change but it's hardly necessary. Others have sold far more stretching stories. Not to mention, it's a growing industry and schools definitely want candidates who are looking to take charge there!

From an improvement standpoint, beyond the non profit, you're kind of done at this point. The non profit gives you established trajectory and even though it will be a new position, it clearly shows progression. If you start something new at this point, it will look a little out of place. Additionally, as Paul mentioned, you really need to get a few accomplishments in this new position under your belt. You have to be able to speak to something either completed or in the works. You need impact or metrics. Does that make sense? It would be great to say in the few months you were there you reduced X by Y%. But it also works to say you developed an annual plan to reduce X by Y%. Not as impactful, but hey, you just got to the position!

From a school perspective, I think you're selling yourself a little short. You do have a significant gap but that can be explained. A slightly higher GMAT would really open up doors for you. Even 10 - 30 points. The 5 - 10 ranked schools are realistic stretches for you. 11 - 17/18 are fairly well aligned and beyond that you have your safeties. I think a lot of great programs have already been mentioned. Tuck has a fantastic MBA/MHA program and I think that's worth a look if you're interested. In addition, take a good look at Haas. They are building up the healthcare component and they have access to a ton of start ups in the area that are beginning to focus in that industry. Finally, UNC has a strong program with great placement rates.

Overall, you're in a good spot. Take the GMATs again and (ok, I don't know the split between the sections) focus on improving your verbal to get your total score/percentile up. In tandem, focus on your non profit role and crank out a few accomplishments. I think the rest of your profile provides a lot of unique experiences that could be pulled in to create both a great and memorable application.

Let me know if you have any questions!

Bhavik
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Re: Eval/Advice: Switching to Healthcare Management Realistic?   [#permalink] 22 Jun 2013, 10:24
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