Med ECG: A Student-led Approach to Teaching Leadership
Current University of Michigan medical students David Portney, Taylor Standiford, Paige VonAchen, and Matt Carey took unusual paths to medical school. Portney, VonAchen, and Carey worked in management consulting; Portney and VonAchen at the Boston Consulting Group and Carey at McKinsey & Company. Standiford was previously at VillageMD, helping primary care physicians improve quality, reduce costs, and succeed in value-based reimbursement. Reflecting on these experiences, this group appreciated the valuable skills they developed in the business world and how transferring them to the medical field could help physicians and physicians-in-training tackle big problems facing the health care system today, such as rising costs and increasing complexity. These beliefs — and dozens of brainstorming discussions — resulted in the birth of the Medical Educational Consulting Group (Med ECG).
Med ECG was founded as a student consulting group with two main aims: to provide medical students with formal training and hands-on experiences to enable them to become future leaders in health care; and to improve the community through projects with local nonprofit health care organizations. To fulfill these objectives, Med ECG provides training to students in problem solving, basic business principles (e.g., accounting), and data analytics that they put into practice via team-based pro bono consulting projects with local health care organizations, selected for their focus on addressing health disparities and serving marginalized populations.
Med ECG started with one team of five students working with Packard Health, a Federally Qualified Health Center Look-Alike in Ann Arbor, and has grown to over 20 members who have served six organizations.
Feedback from clients and members has been positive. As one client said, “I was very impressed with all the aspects of Med ECG’s work. It exceeded my expectations, given that the team members are students. In fact, I think the value of Med ECG’s work for us exceeded some of the products we have received in the past from professional consultants!” One student noted: “As someone who has little to no experience in … aspects of health care outside … [the] physician role, every aspect of my project was a great learning experience.”
While continuing this core work, Med ECG is now aiming higher. It was one of three medical student groups across the country to be awarded the 2018 Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Student Service Leadership Project Grant, which provided $18,000 in funding. The group is in active discussions with Medical School administration to make Med ECG a for-credit course, with additional training elements supported by the U-M Ross School of Business and Michigan Medicine leadership, whereby more students could have the opportunity to learn and apply these skills. Michael Englesbe, M.D. (Residency 2004), the Cyrenus G. Darling Sr., M.D., and Cyrenus G. Darling Jr., M.D., Professor of Surgery and co-director of the Medical School’s Professional Development Branches (the newly redesigned third- and fourth-year curriculum), stated that the work to develop and implement Med ECG is “remarkable” and a “model for all students and faculty.”