It takes a lot of schooling to become a physician, so why would a young doctor start studying for a Master of Business Administration degree? For Dr. Kurt Demel, it was a natural. “I am the type that likes going to school and learning things,” he says.
Demel decided to augment his medical school training with an MBA from Xavier. “One thing that medical school really doesn’t train you for is the business aspect of medicine,” he says. “Physicians are often left out of the discussion in terms of the business portion of medicine. I felt it was important to grasp business concepts, and that’s what propelled me to enter the Xavier MBA program.”
That was five years ago. In the midst of Demel’s MBA studies, he won a fellowship in oncology at Brown University in Providence, R.I. “I wasn’t able to keep attending MBA classes locally, but was able to work out some eloquent plans with Xavier for web-based studies,” he says. “I knew it was going to take me longer to get an MBA than the average student, but that didn’t bother me. It’s given me extra knowledge and I’ve learned the language of business. When you go into a board room, you have that extra security knowing you’re not going to get bamboozled.”
Two years ago, Demel began work at a clinic in Minneapolis-St. Paul and started teaching at the University of Minnesota medical school. He also finished his Xavier web-based MBA work and graduated in 2008. “I really praise the Xavier MBA program for being so accommodating to my situation,” he says.
Demel’s expertise is researching cancer survivorship issues. “This is a burgeoning field because we’re now dealing with about 12 million cancer survivors in the United States,” he says. “Two or three decades ago, we unfortunately weren’t able to talk about survivors of cancer as we are today. The research I’m doing deals with the emotional and psychological issues faced by cancer survivors. For instance, survivors wonder if their cancer is going to come back because having one form of cancer puts you at a higher risk of developing a second cancer. It’s a new field and I love it. You really get to know your patients because you’re seeing them over weeks and months. You form very intense relationships, not only with patients, but also with their families.”