Why would a medical student study management? Join Agil as he retells his part of the story to answer the million-dollar question.
I would be rich if I got 10$ for every question about why I chose the NTUST Management Undergraduate Program, School of Management despite being a medical student myself. This was even the question thrown my way by my major’s program director. When I visited my friend at Taipei Medical University and met his professor, his professor also asked why I chose the School of Management. Almost everybody whom I met asked that question.
My answer will then always be a rendition of the one that I used in my first offline Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Practicum taught by Professor Jing-Jing Weng, and it goes something like this:
One of my role models is Mr Budi Gunawan Sadikin, the current Indonesian Minister of Health. When Budi Gunawan was appointed as the Minister of Health of the Republic of Indonesia in 2020, some colleagues and lecturers in my faculty were unimpressed by the verdict. There was something strange about the president’s decision to choose him as a minister, fully knowing that Budi Sadikiin has no health-related background. He majored in Nuclear Physics, while his career ranged from being a. corporate consultant to the President Director of one of Indonesia’s biggest banks. Many colleagues have voiced out that people with an epidemiological background or handling outbreaks should be the ones driving Indonesians out of the pandemic. But, I believe otherwise. Many healthcare workers are truly capable of the pandemic in services like hospitals, but nationwide? I choose to think that people outside the medical field are more qualified in managerial and bureaucratic aspects.
In the first three months, Budi Gunawan was successful in procuring 125 million doses and another 300 million doses of Pfizer and AstraZeneca respectively, and the COVAX facility — something that the previous minister failed to achieve. After hearing the maneuvers carried out by the ministry of health, it turns out that health is not only focused on hospitals and clinical practice. There is this art of diplomacy for vaccine procurement (since many countries used vaccines as political leverage), the distribution chain process, etc. Not only dealing with managerial matters, but Mr Budi also did something new: creating a special task force for technological reform at the Ministry of Health called the Digital Transformation Office(2021). He sought for brightest the brightest tech talents in the most prestigious startups in Indonesia and incorporated them into the MoH digital task force. Ever since I heard this news, I hope I can understand medicine not only from a clinical perspective, but also the whole process behind the scene.
First Expectation when Learning about Management Course
When I learned about public health at my home university, there were a lot of correspondence with managerial guidelines such as health policy, health economics, and logistics. However, I had difficulties understanding the guidelines. Some sounded like meaningless jargon, some felt out of touch — they just didn’t seem right. For me, the guideline feels like a mere suggestion and doesn’t seem to have any technical implications in the real world.
When I read the course syllabus on NTUST’s Moodle, I consciously let out a groan and sighed when I saw the topic “Sustainability Development Goals”. At that moment, I believed that SDG was merely a jargon published by developed countries to create a false sense of security — this façade of sustainability and hypocrisy (For example: waste colonialism, or when some countries talk about reducing forest logging when paradoxically that country increase wood import volume from Borneo and another tropical forest country). Hence it’s not surprising that MDG is failed.
However, I think my worries stemmed from the gap in my understanding between the managerial world and healthcare. I firmly believe that taking a course in the School of Management at NTUST would help me learn the best practice from the expert.
Upon learning week after week, from one topic to another, it made me realize that there are some funny similarities and differences between business management and medical science.
Medicine and business love to talk about percentages. Medical science often talks about mortality rate, % of specificity and sensitivity of diagnostic modalities. When I read TSMC CSR, the sentence “xx% increase from last year” was a line that constantly popped into the documents. The stark difference is that medicine aims for sharp-analytical-empirical-precision, and the business field aims for efficiency-profit.
But the philosophy of sustainability felt out of place when hosted in medicine and business principles. Even Dr Niven Huang, The General Manager of KPMG Sustainability Consulting and our guest lecturer, told us that instilling sustainability into people’s principles is very difficult. He jokingly said that you must lure people with cake and cookies before discussing sustainability.
In Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation Practicum course, we learned a lot about Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG). I learned about how the business world and management issues guidelines that companies really adhere to, such as the use of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Guidelines, to drive companies in making Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Finally, after three years of undergraduate, I can find guidelines that actually have significance in real-world practice. It was meant to adhere and apply to real-world cases, not some intangible and vague “increase the patient health with a holistic and comprehensive approach” jargon. This is what I got from this class, and I will proudly bring this perspective back to Indonesia.
Aside from the guidelines, I realised how SDGs are viewed differently in Indonesia and Taiwan. Almost everything and every place in Taiwan incorporates SDG/Sustainability in a more serious application. When I travelled to Heping Island Keelung, Taipei Zoo, or even when I walked in TMU, I saw people promoting SDG. That is very outlier by Indonesian standards. This is a truly remarkable experience for me.
The other main topic delivered in class is social entrepreneurship, a concept not novel in Indonesia (even in the most rural areas of our country). However, social entrepreneurship in Indonesia is often driven by people that already financially succeed (classical philanthropy). And that means older people often drive the changes. But in Taiwan, many young people already dare to become impactful. Something that makes me believe that all people can have an impact on society.
After spending six months here, I have met many people with different backgrounds, nationalities, and professional entities. Ranging from a migrant worker from Indonesia, a Bangladesh student pursuing his PhD here, and a Friend from the fellow college of medicine-TMU-NTU, all of them gave me a new perspective and an open global citizen mindset. I can proudly say that my overall journey in Taipei has ended with a good impression.
I have a thought. Suppose the field of social and humanities learns a lot about qualitative and quantitative studies from the Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM) protocol (that comes from the medical field). It seems that the medical field needs to do the same thing to learn management from Business and Management. Adopting the virtue from humanities, art and social science. A collaborative paradigm can create an efficient and humanistic system for the benefit of patients in Indonesia and throughout the world.
Created by: Muhammad Agil Wijaya Faradis
Muhammad Agil Wijaya Faradis, or Agil, is a Medical Student in Universitas Brawijaya. He is a medical doctor passionate about medical technology and the managerial aspect of healthcare to understand the challenges in the healthcare system. Agil has a number of internationally-acclaimed projects under his belt.