MD/MBA brings business expertise to practice

Jennifer Wiler.

Jennifer Wiler, MD/MBA ’03, enjoys scuba diving (her favorite place so far is the Galapagos Islands) and international travel. She recently visited Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia, Kenya and Tanzania. Behind the fun-loving, cosmopolitan exterior, however, is a dedicated, driven individual—with a plan.

After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in molecular biology and philosophy from Colgate University, Wiler worked as a clinical assistant in a women’s clinic in Harlem—an outreach program of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Next, she did a stint at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., a mid-sized money management firm, before deciding to go to medical school at UB.

Few medical students seek additional challenges beyond the demands of their own rigorous schedules, but Jennifer Wiler is an exception. She enrolled in the dual MD/MBA program, in which she would add another year to her studies and “three more letters” to her degree. “During my medical training I constantly heard physicians express their frustrations about the challenges of reimbursement, practice management and health care management,” Wiler says. “I felt that obtaining my MBA would better prepare me for the business issues of medical practice.”

After graduation, she moved to Philadelphia to do an emergency medicine residency at Drexel University College of Medicine. She completed her residency last summer and is now the assistant medical director for the Department of Emergency Medicine at Drexel.

“Formal management training has certainly helped me,” says Wiler. “Having an understanding of strategic planning, project management, departmental financial analysis and organizational behavior has helped me to build a foundation from which to grow my medical practice.” She also says that the leadership and management skills provided by UB are very valuable in her role on the Governing Council of the Pennsylvania Medical Society Young Physicians Section.

In her current role, Wiler finds both rewards and challenges. “People seldom wake up in the morning expecting to find themselves in the emergency department that day,” she says. “But the unexpected happens, and I like that I can help them when they most need it.”

Yet she grapples with many of the same issues that others in her field face. “As emergency department overcrowding continues to grow to critical volumes, we are challenged to provide customer friendly health care in an environment with limited resources that are stretched beyond our current capacities,” Wiler says. She adds that working to achieve progress and process improvement in a fragmented health care system with many competing interests can be arduous, as well. “Physicians, hospitals, governmental agencies and insurers have to work together to develop a fair, safe and affordable health care delivery model,” she says. “But as the number of uninsured grows, and the threat of medical malpractice litigation soars, physicians are being forced out of practice. The system is in need of comprehensive reform.”

In her long-range plan, Wiler would like to have a hand in developing solutions to those problems. “As I see the failings of the current health care system collide in the emergency department, I hope to expand my participation in legislative and advocacy efforts at the local and national levels to help improve the quality of patient care.”

Written by Jacqueline Ghosen