Stan Finkelstein, MD

Harvard Catalyst Profile

The academic field to which I have devoted my career in medicine is health management and policy, and within that, policy issues related to medical care practice and technology. Over more than thirty years since graduating from HMS, I have pursued exciting opportunities to develop new research themes, medical school and graduate academic courses and joint degree programs, where few or none had previously existed. Colleagues and friends at HMS created other opportunities for me to continue some post-graduate clinical training in primary care medicine on a part-time basis, which I pursued until time constraints forced the rationing of my effort to the area of my greatest professional commitment.

My base was at MIT, first in the Department of Political Science and then in the Sloan School of Management. My presence at the Sloan School facilitated the development of its first academic classes in health management and policy as I collaborated with senior faculty to plan and deliver them. We even created one of the nation’s first health care focused executive management degree programs; a number of prominent physicians enrolled in the program. Strong support from the MIT Provost led us to establish an MD/PhD program in health policy and management. The program attracted wide participation of faculty from economics, political science and management and stimulated the development of an even larger number of health management related academic classes. Doctoral students were recruited from among recent graduates of medical residency programs and a few medical students who took leaves of absence to enter our PhD program. Having co-led the development of this overall effort, I was appointed the program’s first director. The Whitaker College Doctoral Program in Health Policy and Management, as it was named, was affiliated with the Harvard-MIT HST Division. I had the privilege of mentoring all of the eleven students who enrolled in the program, and served on the doctoral dissertation committee of many of them.

Over time, I served as a local focus of academic interest in health management, continued to offer graduate courses at MIT and co-listed in HST, and served as a source for advice to many graduate students at MIT and medical students at Harvard. Then, in 1995, I was contacted by HMS students, sent by Dr. Ronald Arky who asked for help developing a class in health care management for first year medical students. The students also recruited Dr. Peter Slavin to join this effort. Slavin and I, under Arky’s mentorship, developed HMS’ first and only class in health care management, secured approval by the requisite curriculum committees and have offered the class annually since then.

In 2002, then Dean for Medical Education at HMS Daniel Lowenstein invited me to assemble and chair a task force of HMS and HBS faculty and administrative staff to propose a new, combined MD/MBA degree program at Harvard. The new program was approved by both HBS and HMS faculties in 2004 and launched in 2005. I am privileged to serve at the program’s founding director. In that capacity, I value the opportunity to break new ground to create opportunities to integrate some of the intellectual underpinnings of medicine with those of management. (The program currently has 27 students enrolled and interest is growing rapidly.) Over a thirty year period, I have been privileged to teach health care management related issues to hundreds of students at Harvard and MIT, all of whom were enrolled in classes for which I had a major role in developing. Many of these courses generated sizeable enrollments. In addition, I served as Master’s or doctoral thesis advisor to more than fifty students pursuing advanced degrees in one of these related fields. Many of these graduates have gone on to make major contributions to the health care management field as academics, medical care delivery or product development, or as government decision-makers.

I plan to initiate, along with collaborators from operations research and clinical medicine a graduate research seminar on health care delivery systems. The plan is for this seminar to be eventually jointly listed at HMS and MIT and the enrolled students to include medical students and doctoral students.