Self-Sponsored Doctor Uses Degree to Make Impact on Emergency Medicine

When Dr. Craig Gronczewski applied to Wharton’s EMBA program, he was a clinical physician caring for patients in emergency departments. While seeing patients every day was fulfilling, he was becoming increasingly interested in working on the business side of healthcare.

“Traditional physician training doesn’t prepare doctors to manage the business side of medicine, which has become much more complicated in this era of managed care. On top of that, healthcare is probably one of the most regulated industries in the world. The only way to survive is to be efficient in your practice, and to have effective operational and managerial skills,” he explains.

While he knew Wharton’s EMBA program was the right one for him, a challenge was that his medical practice couldn’t provide any sponsorship. Craig says, “Sponsorship simply wasn’t an option, but making this an even bigger decision was that I had recently transitioned from employee to partner in my practice, which involved buying into the partnership. And my second child was due a few weeks before the program began.”

He adds, “Tuition was a significant cost to absorb. I could have gone the online route or to a less expensive school, but education is expensive anywhere and I felt it was worth the cost to go to Wharton. If I was going to spend that much time, effort and money on my degree then I wanted it to be at the best school possible.”

Craig also wanted a broad business education as opposed to a healthcare MBA. “Wharton provided a general overview of management and finance with electives that focused on healthcare and other areas that I wanted to learn more about such as real estate and venture capital,” he notes.

A 2011 graduate of Wharton’s East Coast program, Craig now holds several titles: chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro, vice president of the Medical Staff of Princeton Healthcare System, and a partner at Princeton Emergency Physicians.

“Quickly after starting the EMBA program, I became involved in the administrative side at the hospital. Princeton HealthCare was building a replacement campus, which afforded me the opportunity to participate in the design process. I really fell in love with my job, as I had more opportunities to work on the business side and create a new hospital that would make an imprint on the healthcare outcomes of hundreds of thousands of people in the future,” he says.

As for the ROI of his Wharton degree, Craig says that it’s been very high. In addition to becoming next year’s president of the Medical Staff, a physician organization with a membership of over 1,000 physicians, he also was recently nominated to sit on the Finance Committee of his hospital and speak at a national consortium on best practices in emergency department design.

“Many of those things wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t gone to Wharton. It was a huge investment in time and money – and one that I took very seriously — but I’m already reaping so many rewards from it,” adds Craig.

Craig is featured in an article in the June/July 2012 issue of Princeton Health (page 6).