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Executive Profile: Michael Yochelson, M.D., MBA ’11

Nov 01, 2013
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Yochelson

Michael Yochelson was 10 when he decided he wanted to be an ophthalmologist. He was stopped short in his fourth year of medical school when his ophthalmology rotation was cancelled at the last minute. It turned out to be serendipity. He selected a last-minute substitute in physical medicine and rehabilitation and was hooked. 

Yochelson was especially enthralled with neurological rehabilitation – helping patients after brain injury and stroke. He did his residency in the Navy, where he served nearly 12 years as a staff physician. In 2006, Yochelson joined MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital as medical director for the brain injury program. He became the hospital’s associate medical director in July 2009. At every step, Yochelson was developing his passion for administrative health care and realizing the need for a business degree.

“There is a whole lot of business in medicine these days,” says Yochelson. “ I felt like getting an MBA would make me a better leader.”

Yochelson looked at a lot of executive MBA programs, but landed on Smith’s program for its strong emphases on strategy, general leadership and management. He also really liked that Smith’s executive coaches work closely with students throughout every step of the intensive 19-month program. 

“Even though what we were discussing in class might not have been health care-related, in the back of my mind, I was always thinking about how I’d implement those things,” says Yochelson. 

He found it particularly helpful to learn how to deal with difficult employee situations. He says he got a lot of benefit from working one-on-one with his executive coach on specific issues at his hospital to make changes in real time. 

“Medical school is great at teaching medicine, but it’s absolutely horrible at teaching the business of medicine,” says Yochelson. “It does not teach you anything about management, finance, strategy, or anything along those lines. I felt very capable and confident about managing someone’s brain injury treatment, but not necessarily about managing co-workers or associates.” 

Shortly after graduating from Smith’s EMBA program in July 2011, Yochelson assumed his current role as vice president of medical affairs and chief medical officer of the hospital, a role that is almost entirely administrative. He works with patients only a half-day per week, as his days are consumed with the business of running a hospital. And with the recently enacted Affordable Care Act and other health care reforms, that business has never been more challenging. 

“This is where having gone to Smith and the emphasis on strategy is really critical,” Yochelson says. “We don’t yet know exactly what the future of healthcare is going to hold for us. We’re already in planning mode so that hopefully as we need to shift course, we can do so as nimbly as possible.” 

Learn more about the Smith School’s EMBA program online, www.rhsmith.umd.edu/emba.

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About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business 

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, MS in business, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.