Executive MBA, Executive Student Profile

Meet 2020 GEMBA Student, Taison Bell, MD!

By Susannah Fuller-

We recently caught up 2020 Global Executive MBA (GEMBA) format student Taison Bell to talk a little more about why he chose Darden and what he’s enjoyed about the program so far. Check out Taison’s answers below! 

City: Charlottesville
Years of Experience: 8
Format: GEMBA

What is your current job?

I’m a critical care and infectious disease physician at the University of Virginia Health System and the UVA School of Medicine. I also have various administrative roles, including Assistant Director of the medical ICU, and I direct a summer leadership program for college students interested in pursuing a career in medicine.

Why did you decide to pursue an MBA?

My desire to pursue an MBA grew mostly out of experiencing many of the frustrations physicians encounter in today’s U.S. healthcare system. Delivery is now much more complex and expensive, with big efforts underway to redesign quality improvement and payment reimbursement. I found myself growing frustrated with the growing gap between ideal care and what was actually possible in the hospital. I had a mentor who encouraged me to become a part of the solution to these frustrations by exploring administrative roles.

However, once I did this, I quickly noticed that the conversation about healthcare delivery at the institutional level was really a business conversation within the context of healthcare. Hospitals deal with supply chain management, operations and quality improvement, among many other areas, on a daily basis. I noticed that physician leaders in these spaces had a comfort level with the language of business, and, while I felt that I could grow as a leader by simply continuing to be involved in leadership roles, I decided that a much better way to do so would be to formalize my business skill set by obtaining an MBA.

Why did you choose Darden?

The convenience of Charlottesville combined with Darden’s solid reputation made it a no-brainer for me. I did consider looking at business schools with programs that specialize in physician education. But I find value in learning from other industries and ultimately decided that a healthcare-focused MBA would be too limited. For example, learning the fine details of healthcare management in the era of HMOs would not be very useful today because healthcare delivery has changed so much. In contrast, the core principles of management have tended to stay consistent over time, and that’s exactly what Darden focuses on.

What attracted you to the executive formats of the Darden MBA?

Because I work several weekends a year, I had to pay close attention to how many residencies I would have to do as a part of my executive program, and I felt that Darden had the best mix of online distance learning and in-person residencies. As a bonus, I chose the GEMBA format because the week-long global residencies translate to fewer overall weekends in class. Ironically, it actually worked better for my schedule to travel the world!

What’s your favorite thing about your classmates so far?

I have learned so much from my classmates. In the very first week of class the faculty firmly established the concept of a community of trust where we assume each other’s good intentions when engaging in challenging topics. As a result, we’ve created a safe space to voice opinions and disagreements. In this program, your classmates quickly become a family, and we all look forward to seeing each other when we have residencies.

What are you most excited about accomplishing during the program?

Having never taken an economics class, I was pretty intimidated by the Global Economies and Markets (GEM) course. Before school started, I tried reading articles in the Wall Street Journal and The Economist and remember thinking, “What in the world are they talking about?” However, after a few weeks with Professor Debaere (who is a phenomenal teacher), I’m now able to quickly interpret economic news and reflexively think about the downstream effects.

What advice do you have for prospective students?

I would encourage prospective students to think about business school as an investment in both your potential career prospects and your personal development. I can say without hesitation that Darden has a great network and it invests a tremendous amount of time and effort into developing students into leaders. Darden has managed to create a culture that brings the best out of students in every interaction, and everyone here is “all in.”