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Market-Based Solutions to Vital Economic Issues


Thomas Watson

MD 2026

You just completed your MBA and are starting your MD at UNC. How do both degrees fit into your career goals and life plans?
My overarching goal is to become a practicing physician who runs a health system or starts my own practice. I have always had some allure towards process improvement just as I have been drawn to health and science, and I believe combining the experience of both degrees will open doors for me to marry these two passions through healthcare delivery and administration.

Tell us about a favorite class and/or professor during your time at UNC Kenan-Flagler.
Two of my favorite and whom I consider some of the most wide-reaching, impactful professors at Kenan-Flagler are Adam Mersereau and Markus Saba. Adam helped to strengthen and build upon my foundation in data analysis very early in the program, which set me up for success throughout my entire experience at Kenan-Flagler and enabled me to succeed in ventures outside of school, as well. Markus showed me new methods to question my own ways of thinking while delving into complex, real-world healthcare examples. Both of these professors have made me a more well-rounded and thoughtful individual – I cannot thank them enough for that.

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 was constantly surprised at the diversity my class brought to the table – in different backgrounds, opinions, interests, hobbies, and more. Every day of the MBA showed me a different example of how difference and diversity in experiences leads to a better outcome and helps to avoid groupthink. I am eager to apply this mindset in an industry that is as complex and multifaceted as healthcare.

What drives you?
My parents were physicians and being around healthcare from such a young age has allowed me to view a lot of grievances and friction at multiple points throughout the healthcare delivery process. What drives me is the idea that I might be able to help great doctors who know little about business and great business people who know little about medicine to better communicate and improve the efficiency of our healthcare system.

Do you have any advice for students considering getting an MBA?
Make sure you talk to students and alumni to compare how they think it has helped/will help them to how you think it will help you. If you have decided it is the next step for you, be prepared to question how you think and to really learn how to take off your own shoes before you step into others’.

What is your favorite spot on Carolina’s campus?
I’m pretty biased, having spent most of my time near the business school or the athletics facilities, but the one place that stands out is Morris Arboretum. Though this greenspace is a block or so long and only half a wide, it is so tranquil inside and I often found myself walking through it just to relax or sit on a bench to clear my head when I was stressed. Walking through it, you can appreciate an impressive collection and presentation of biological diversity for such a small space without leaving campus.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?
I am very excited be starting medical school – this is a goal that I have had for longer than I can remember. I also really enjoy the outdoors and backpacking, so one goal that I am roughly halfway done with is to visit all of the US National Parks.