From her perch at the end of the second row, Dr. Zubaida Qazi is learning the fine points of financing in the U.S. health care system. This day’s lecture in Warren Hall by Sean Nicholson, professor of policy analysis and management in the Cornell Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy, concerns the fee schedule for Medicare reimbursements. Qazi is joined in the classroom by about 45 students from around the world. Many, like Qazi, are already physicians or health care executives.

Like the other Sloan Program executive master’s in health administration (MHA) students in the Cornell Brooks School, Qazi seeks to enhance her skills so that she can advance her career and help more people. She is already having a positive impact on the quality of life for women in her native Pakistan.

A practicing radiologist, Qazi is the founder and director of Pink Pakistan Trust, a nongovernmental organization that works for the welfare and well-being of women in Pakistan with a focus on breast cancer prevention and care.

In its first two years, Pink Pakistan has opened breast cancer awareness centers in several locations and launched a smartphone application, the first of its kind in Pakistan. The app assists women in self-screening for breast cancer by explaining the step-by-step procedure. It also provides Pakistani breast cancer patients free consultations with national and international specialist doctors and psychiatrists through WhatsApp.

Qazi is in Ithaca to learn more. “I need to refine my administrative and managerial abilities to add efficiency and productivity to the much-needed work for women’s empowerment and well-being that needs to be done in my country,” she said. “The Sloan Program will provide me the opportunities, resources and guidance to enhance my administrative and managerial capabilities to play a leading role in the health care sector of my country.”

While Sloan has offered a residential MHA for more than 60 years, the executive MHA just launched its fourth cohort. Students combine in-person learning in Ithaca with remote coursework so that they can continue to work full time. Among the students in the room are clinicians, hospital administrators, ancillary facility managers, pharmaceutical executives and others.

“The atmosphere in the classroom is invigorating because so many of the students like Zubaida are so accomplished,” said Nicholson, who directs the MHA program. “I am teaching and learning at the same time. What she has done and what she will do in Pakistan is inspiring to her classmates and to her Cornell faculty.”

While acknowledging that Pink Pakistan has little connection to the Medicare fee system, Qazi says she is acquiring knowledge that will make her a better manager. “The exposure to how the U.S. health care system works and its issues and solutions are providing me with critical insight into examining the health care system of my country and finding viable solutions to improve its performance,” she said.

Jim Hanchett is assistant dean of communications in the Cornell Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy.


Originally posted in Cornell University News