Skip to main content

Scheller News

Chima Odinkemere and Candice Blacknall
Chima Odinkemere and Candice Blacknall

White Coats Yellow Jackets: A Q&A with the Two Newest Incoming M.D./MBAs

Last year, Scheller College of Business and Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) partnered to offer a joint, five-year M.D./MBA dual degree. Students at MSM complete their first three years as medical students and then enter Scheller College for a one year, three-semester MBA program prior to returning to MSM to complete their fourth year of medical studies. This year, Scheller welcomed its second class of M.D./MBAs - Candice Blacknall and Chima Odinkemere. The program was developed based on changing industry dynamics – today being a great physician isn’t just about medicine and patient care,  it’s increasingly important for doctors to have strong business acumen as well. The M.D./MBA students gain business acumen and a skill set that helps expand their medical and business expertise,  in turn, translating into greater quality care that’s both financially and ethically responsible for the patients as well in their own practice.

In addition to the M.D./MBA, Scheller College offers several dual degrees including dual MBA and M.S. or Ph.D. degrees with Georgia Institute of Technology’s College of Computing, College of Design, and College of Engineering.

Candice Blacknall (BA in Psychology and International Studies, Southern Polytechnic State, 2014) and Chima Odinkemere (BS in Biology, Rutgers University, 2015) are in the  2019 Full-time incoming MBA class with a 2021 slated graduation date for both degrees. We caught up with Candice and Chima during orientation to hear about their time at Morehouse as well as why they decided to pursue an MBA as Scheller College.

Candice Blacknall

Undergraduate University:

Southern Polytechnic State University.

What is your previous work experience?

I was in the U.S. Army Medical Corp and in Veterans Affairs.

Why did you choose medicine?

My journey to medicine was non-traditional and I actually think medicine initially chose me rather than the other way around. I imagined myself working as a cultural anthropologist in the early part of my formal education. Even though my military role was as a combat medic (68W), I didn’t have medicine on my radar until after my first deployment to Iraq.

I had always valued the community service and team-driven environment of the military, and the diversity and creative environment of the social sciences, but creating a career that encompassed the two was not something I considered possible. Through my overseas service as a combat medic, I discovered that medicine was an opportunity to combine these seemingly different worlds. Much like an anthropologist, when I enter a patient’s room, I am entering a world separate from my own. I have to learn their language as I assist them in devising goals for their health and mapping the route that will help them achieve these goals.

Simultaneously, I am part of a medical community with a vested interest in improving patient outcomes and community advocacy. As a non-traditional student, I view medicine through a very different lens. I think it’s one of the few careers where challenge and opportunity are perpetual roommates. The science certainly teaches you the algorithm of medicine and you gain confidence in that framework, but it’s the patients you encounter that teach you how to heal. Those are the relationships that keep you humble, motivate you to find that 25th hour in a 24-hour day or, conversely, take a break from your tasks to call your mom (a patient actually asked me when I last called).

 Why did you choose Morehouse School of Medicine?

I called a pre-med advisor before I started the application cycle for medical schools and he told me I needed two things to be successful in medical school - a journal and good people. The journal was so that I could write down ‘why medicine?’ because interviewers were going to ask and because I was going to reach a point during medical school when I was going to start asking myself ‘why medicine?’ The good people, of course, are necessary to help pick me up and get through those times. I couldn’t ask for better people around me than my colleagues and friends at MSM. The M.D. is essentially the same no matter where you go, however the community and shared values are what can make all of the difference.

When do you graduate?

May 2021.

Why did you decide to pursue an MBA?

I’ve always had an interest in business, but getting a formal education in business evolved right around the same time I was deciding to pursue medicine. Once I saw how well medicine encompassed the elements of the military and social sciences that I enjoyed, I decided to see how creative I could be combining other areas of interest. One article in a 2016 Harvard Business Review stands out vividly in my memory. It highlighted the fact that hospitals led by physicians outperformed their peers in “bench to bedside” research and improved patient outcomes. This article became one of many that introduced me to the “business of medicine.” As I nurtured a vision to lead a hospital system and establish my own practice, I knew that pursuing an MBA would be an important contributor to my successful career.  

What are you most looking forward to in an MBA program?

I don’t think the anthropologist in me will ever go away. To that end, I’m most looking forward to learning the language of business and building relationships with the people that speak it. I love a new challenge so I’m motivated to discover the ways the MBA program will nurture my instinctive need to innovate and the ways my MBA colleagues will broaden my perspective by sharing their experiences.

Why are you excited about Scheller College/Georgia Tech?

One of my role models at Morehouse, Dr. Malone, provided a wise saying that “people really don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” From my very first interaction with the Scheller community, I knew without a doubt that they truly cared both about the people within their community and those beyond it.

At Scheller, your vision for your career becomes a shared vision and everyone rallies around you to make it happen. I’m inspired by the diverse experiences and strengths of my classmates and humbled by their willingness to share them. The solidarity of the community at Scheller is palpable and I know it would not be the case if it were not nurtured with dedicated intention. This strength of community is further reflected in the strength of the program itself. The curriculum is exemplary and opportunities like TI:GER (Technology Innovation: Generating Economic Results) were particularly exciting because technology allows the medical community to bridge the access gap seen in rural communities and I have a keen interest in being part of the development of healthcare technology.

How will the MBA help your medical career?

My MBA will facilitate my ability to establish a successful practice and/or serve in hospital administration and promote my engagement in entrepreneurial projects relating to healthcare technology and beyond.

What would you tell others about applying for the dual degree?

I’m already a pretty big advocate for the dual M.D./MBA degree especially for non-traditional students. I truly believe that the days when clinical acumen alone in providing patient care are long behind us. There are countless elements outside of clinical and technical skill that influence one’s ability to serve the underserved through medicine. Be it business, politics, or beyond, the need for physician leadership is clear. I encourage my colleagues and friends to use the critical analytical skills developed in medicine to broaden their community impact and sphere of influence. Seeking an MBA is an excellent opportunity to do that.

What do you hope to gain from your MBA?

As a result of obtaining my MBA at Scheller, I hope to be better positioned to serve in executive leadership of a health system, to engage in entrepreneurial pursuits in healthcare technology, and broaden my network

How will you manage your time?

I have a few main rules of thumb:

  • If it is not on my iCal is does not exist.
  • Support the leadership of others.
  • It’s OK to ask for help.
  • Big tasks are multiple small tasks in disguise. Divide and conquer.

Chima Odinkemere

Undergraduate University:

Rutgers University

What is your previous work experience?

Prior to entering medical school, I worked in the Emergency Department and in a medical practice. 

Why did you choose medicine?

In essence, choosing medicine was a combination of both parental influence and a calling I had after suffering various hardships that could have prevented me from being alive today. Hence, I vowed to do everything in my power to dedicate my life to making others’ lives better.

Why did you choose Morehouse School of Medicine?

It was a small close-knit school with small class sizes (the smallest in the United States). They are nationally known for their humanitarianism, social mission, diversifying the medical workforce, as well as producing top-tier physicians in their respective fields. Additionally, they are the most caring medical school I have ever encountered. Their desire and ability to nurture their students and groom them to become excellent physicians is second-to-none.

When do you graduate?

May 2021.

Why did you decide to pursue an MBA?

I realized that an MBA is beneficial to have in medical practice management and marketability. An MBA makes running a practice easier and more successful given the entrepreneurial aspects as well as the day-to-day financial and administrative responsibilities.  

What are you most looking forward to in the MBA program?

In the MBA program, I am eager to grow and to increase my competency both as a physician and as a businessperson.

Why are you excited about Scheller College/Georgia Tech?

Scheller is an incredible expansion of the Georgia Tech name and brand. I am excited to be a part of the history that Scheller College is making today as it continues to rise to the top of the business world!

What would you tell others about applying for the dual degree?

Having an MBA will diversify my professional portfolio first and foremost. A physician businessperson is a newer concept to America, and to the world. It believe it will provide me with a skillset that many physicians wish they had, which is knowing how to navigate the business aspect of medicine. Additionally, obtaining an MBA expands my career trajectory.

For others thinking about applying for a dual degree, I would tell them that I believe each day medicine is becoming more and more a business. My pursuit of an MBA is simply accepting and embracing this change, and I encourage others to do the same.

What do you hope to gain from your MBA?

From my MBA I look to gain knowledge of the business language, as well as a sound foundation in real estate, entrepreneurship, investments, strategic sustainability, and healthcare management.

How will you manage your time?

I’m not quite sure yet, but I know firsthand that attending medical school is one of the most time-intensive and demanding things I’ve done so far, so I’ll likely apply all of the time management skills I learned in studying medicine towards my MBA.

Anything else you’d like to share that I didn’t ask?

Go Jackets!

 

CONTACTS

Profile image for News
News
News Contact