Why I Decided to Attend EMTM When I Already Had a Doctorate

Peter Gabriel

"Before EMTM, I had never taken an accounting, finance, or economics course in my life. I would have been hard pressed to tell you what an interest rate was, let alone understand the differences between capital and operating budget or calculate the net present value of a project proposal."

Peter Gabriel, MD, EMTM’11
Medical Director — Clinical Information Systems
University of Pennsylvania Health System
Philadelphia, PA

I am a physician. I received my MD degree from Washington University in St. Louis in 2003 and completed residency training in Internal Medicine here at Penn in 2006. I am currently a faculty member in the School of Medicine. It may seem a little unusual that I decided to pursue a master's degree in "technology management," but the EMTM program is actually perfectly well-suited to my career goals and has been tremendously rewarding for me so far. While my situation is relatively unique, I think it highlights the ability of the EMTM program to serve the needs of a very broad range of students. The diversity of background and experience of the student body is also one of the key strengths of the educational experience in EMTM.

While I am a fully trained and licensed physician, my primary career focus is not on clinical care, but rather health care information technology. I spend the majority of my time acting as the Medical Director of Clinical Information Systems within the IT department of the Penn Health System. As you are probably aware from the political debate surrounding healthcare in the past year, computerization of medical records and the adoption of other types of advanced information technology are playing an increasingly important role in attempts to improve our health care system. This is the area in which I hope to build my career.

While I do have some technical background – my undergraduate degree is in computer science and I've always been a technophile hobbyist – I quickly realized in my current role that I was lacking important knowledge and experience about such key technical areas as networking, client-server application architecture, wireless technology, software engineering processes, principles of human computer interaction, etc. In addition, my increasing participation in corporate administration began to expose my lack of education in the fundamentals of business and management.

Before EMTM, I had never taken an accounting, finance, or economics course in my life. I would have been hard pressed to tell you what an interest rate was, let alone understand the differences between capital and operating budget or calculate the net present value of a project proposal. I also lacked the skills to effectively manage a large corporate team or department and interact with other managers across a complex organization. Such courses and seminars offered through EMTM as accounting, corporate finance, leadership, negotiations, organizational behavior and design, project management and communications were all very attractive to me for building these skills.

I am currently in my second year of EMTM, and so far the program has impressed me even beyond my initial hopes. From the very first term when I found myself thrilled with a course on statistics of all things – and actually applying the coursework to my job immediately – I knew that I had made the right decision. The faculty, both from the School of Engineering and from Wharton, has been exceptional. The depth, breadth and rigor of the courses have been targeted perfectly to working professionals with a variety of backgrounds, aspiring to increasing roles in management and leadership. The diversity of experience of the student body has been remarkable, and the opportunity to learn from each other, network and develop lasting friendships has been tremendous. There is an enjoyable camaraderie that has developed amongst my classmates, and I've also been excited by an entrepreneurial spirit that seems to run through the program. "Technology Entrepreneurship" has been an unexpected favorite course to date, and I'm wondering if I may have been bitten by "the bug." Overall, I could not be more pleased with the EMTM program. My only disappointment is the realization that at some point I'm going to have to graduate. :-)