Robert Tepper, MD: Making an Impact Through Industry
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CitationMahan, Keenan. 2019. Robert Tepper, MD: Making an Impact Through Industry. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard Medical School.
AbstractTITLE: Robert Tepper, MD: Making an Impact through Industry.
Keenan Mahan & Jessica L. Alpert.
Purpose: Many medical students consider career opportunities outside of academic and clinical medicine but may not know the available options or how to pursue them.1,2 The case method is an ideal tool for teaching this kind of material, as it lends itself well to teaching both systemic and tacit knowledge.3 It promotes decision-making skills, critical thinking, and discussion between students and faculty.4 The case method is used widely in business, medical, and other professional schools to focus students on concrete problems and give them the opportunity to lend reality to indirect experience. Students develop skills in decision-making, present varying many points of view, and gain information that can be readily applied to later living and employment situations.5
While most medical school cases focus on patients, diagnoses, and treatment plans, cases in medical school can be expanded to include teaching leadership. Evidence shows that simulations of real-life events, similarly to medical simulation, improve critical evaluation skills and help students move from theory to application. By identifying the critical principles underlying concepts and learning how to apply those concepts under stress, such as limited timeframes or resources, students are more likely to implement these concepts to a relevant event in real-life scenarios.6 Importantly, the case method puts students in the habit of making decisions, as protagonists often face critical choices and exposure to these scenarios gives students the courage to act under uncertainty; students are therefore willing to take risk and implement action in leadership roles.7 In a study conducted specifically to identify how to train physicians to become better leaders, the case method received high praise from those who completed the program. Physicians also noted that they felt more effective in their relationships with administrators and other employees and allowed them to participate more effectively in management decisions. They were taught the importance of dialogue, introspection, and reflection - all key aspects of successful teaching of the case method.8
Dr. Tepper’s case provides medical students with a foundation and a set of tools they can use to evaluate their interests, skills, and network as they consider pursuing a variety of impactful careers. The Center for Primary Care has developed teaching cases around primary care delivery called the Primary Care Systems Case Collection.9 Harvard Business School also has numerous examples of teaching both pathways to medical entrepreneurship and the difficulties involved with becoming a medical entrepreneur, such as technology transfer.10,11 The medical school case method is becoming increasingly popular, as case vignettes are important for establishing the relevance of material and solidifying memory.12 This case expands the current case library available to students and focuses on teaching skills beyond the knowledge presented in the pre- clinical curriculum.
Methods: Dr. Tepper was chosen as case protagonist based on his career path, spanning roles as a student at Harvard Medical School, resident and principal investigator at Massachusetts General Hospital, consultant to several early-stage companies, and co-founder of Millennium Pharmaceuticals and Third Rock Ventures. He was interviewed twice during which we explored his personal story and reflected on his career, the choices he took, and the associated risks. Extensive notes and drafts were prepared based on these interviews and shared among the
innovation group at the Center for Primary Care. From these notes, several case-specific learning points were identified, including identifying quality mentorship, developing networks, and mitigating risk. Several months were spent writing and proofing the case, creating exhibits, and following up with Dr. Tepper to clarify details and involve him in teaching the case.
Results: The finished product was published to be used in the Physicians as Leaders course offered as a Harvard Medical School elective in Spring 2018. Its first use was in a session featuring Dr. Tepper as a guest and was well received by students and Dr. Tepper.
Conclusions: Dr. Tepper’s case and others like it are powerful devices that allow medical students to explore the value of mentorship, networking, and passion and consider how these factor into career choices within and outside of traditional academic or clinical medicine.
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Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:41971525