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Matthew Fordham

MD/MBA 2022

You’re currently in the dual-degree MD/MBA program at UNC’s School of Medicine and Kenan-Flagler Business School. What made you choose to pursue a dual degree?
Healthcare is a complex and dynamic industry. Modern clinicians need to be skilled not only at delivering care, but at managing a team, and navigating the intricacies of the healthcare system to provide high-quality, low-cost care. I was inspired to join the MD/MBA program due to my volunteer work at the UNC School of Medicine student-run free medical clinic (SHAC, or Student Health Action Coalition). My time at SHAC made me realize the importance of strong administration in healthcare delivery, and I sought out an MBA to improve those skills.

How do both degrees fit into your career goals and life plans?
I have always enjoyed some of the administrative aspects of healthcare delivery – building teams of smart people, managing complex operational problems, and continuously improving quality and safety. I recently found out that I matched for Internal Medicine residency at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, so in the short term, I’ll be focusing on building my clinical skills and medical decision making. After residency, I hope to go into hospital-based medicine, whether in general internal medicine or a subspecialty. I plan to incorporate a significant proportion of clinical administration into my long-term career.

What is something you have learned or discovered during your time at Carolina that surprised you? How do you think you will apply it professionally?
I have been continually surprised and impressed by the diverse backgrounds, experiences, and interests of my MBA classmates. My cohort is passionate about so many things beyond the typical MBA job trajectory. In the professional world, I think it’s important to build teams of people with different perspectives to cultivate a strong team dynamic and encourage critical discussion and debate. In the context of a common mission, such as caring for a patient, it’s important to remember the value of teamwork and discussion to achieve team goals.

Do you have any advice for students considering getting a dual degree?
I would advise students to talk to as many people as possible who are either currently pursuing a dual degree or are farther along in their career. I would also recommend looking into what alumni of the program have accomplished – are these alumni in industry or primarily in clinical practice? For those in clinical practice, what has the dual degree added to their career? My personal interests aligned more with MD/MBAs working in the clinical world compared with industry, but I discovered that the dual degree would likely put me on the fast track towards my long-term goals, so I decided to go for it.

What is your favorite spot on Carolina’s campus?
I am a Tar Heel lifer, so it’s difficult to pick a single favorite place on Carolina’s campus. As an undergraduate, I loved the excitement and energy of South Campus. As a medical student, I spent a lot of time in the Health Science Library, and as an MBA student who survived the Zoom era, I enjoyed the McColl courtyard and Dean Dome. If I had to pick a single favorite place, it would probably be McCorkle Place. On warm nights, I like to go for a picnic on the upper quad and relax under the old trees that have seen incredible periods of Carolina’s history. It’s such a peaceful place where you can really feel the spirit of Carolina.