Furman: A Third Emory Degree

Mark Furman entered the EMBA program at Goizueta looking for his third degree from Emory University. PHOTO: J. Michael Moore

When Mark Furman considered diversifying his training as a cardiologist with an Executive MBA, he had plenty of choices.

From his home in suburban Boston he researched weekend programs in the Northeast but quickly realized his educational “home” at Emory had what he needed.

“Once I made the decision to get an Executive MBA, the decision was then ‘Where?’” said Furman, who earned an undergraduate degree in mathematics from Emory College and an M.D. at the School of Medicine. “Emory has been so good to me. For what I want to do I almost don’t trust my education anywhere else. I’ve trained at other places… I’ve taken courses at other schools but Emory just feels like home, even though it’s been more than 25 years since I’ve been here.”

Furman found Goizueta’s Modular EMBA program the perfect fit for his family life even though it requires him to attend eight, week-long sessions in Atlanta. A weekend program involves a commitment every other week, which Furman said would be local, but more disruptive.

Goizueta also offered the general business education he was after.

“I wanted to go to a place where I’d actually learn something more than just getting the degree,” Furman said. “Being a physician, I needed to legitimize myself in the business community. It was important for me to get a degree people would recognize as meaning something.

“I’m not in the business world. I actually have to learn the stuff; it’s not just getting a degree after my name.”

Furman first arrived at Emory in 1979, leaving his home in New York in search of a big-time university with a small-college feel. He had family in Atlanta and grew increasingly familiar with the school and campus. He graduated in 1983 and now works at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and is chief cardiologist at an affiliated suburban organization. He also taught at University of Massachusetts Medical School.

His return to campus as a student was marked with a realization of change and influence.

Reuniting with a math professor and thesis advisor was nostalgic. Going to the Rich Memorial Building instead of the two-building business school (not built in his time) was one of perhaps many humorous moments.

But Furman knows his education is not a laughing matter and the trend of physicians going back to school for business degrees is one to note in the future of healthcare.

“It shows the way medicine is going,” he said. “I think the changes in healthcare are tremendous [and] I think physicians need to take leadership of that. In the past, leadership in medical organizations was based on reputation, not on talent in leadership. It was based on talent in research or talent by clinical reputation or teaching, but not on talent as a leader.

“You need effective, efficient leadersihp in management and physicians aren’t trained in that. I think wer’e good students – we learn quickly — but there’s a whole world we don’t know about.”

In just more than three months of study Furman noticed a difference in how he approached business problems, saying he’s looking to apply learnings in organization and management in some hospital-unique situations. But perhaps the biggest difference is a change in mental approach, a sign of the education he knew he’d get on Emory’s campus.

“At first I was thinking like a scientist, not a business man,” he said. “Over the last three months I can see my thinking switching.”