Health Care Immersion Program (HCIP) 2014

Earlier this spring (May 11-15) eight Wabash men participated in the 2nd annual Health Care Immersion Program in Indianapolis.  Students learned through a series of presentations by Wabash alumni who are currently working in health care and related fields – a crucial, complicated, and extremely varied sector of our economy.  Dr. Frank Howland also lead the group through vigorous coursework throughout the week.  The HCIP was created from the success of other past immersion programs and under the umbrella of a current Lilly Endowment, Inc. grant.

The following students were selected to participate based on the strength of their applications and interviews:  Tiger Zuo, Ethan Farmer, Bilal Jawed, Thanh Tran, Ryan Gross, Tu Nguyen, Mazin Hakim, and Ian Artis.  On the final day of the program, students gave 3 group presentations covering varied aspects and perspectives of the topics covered over the course of the week.


Tiger Zuo ‘16 – After taking the Health Economics class with Dr. Howland last semester, I had decided to give the Healthcare Immersion Program a try. Fortunately, I got admitted into the program and I got a more immersive experience in healthcare in terms of the knowledge which I acquired from Dr. Howland’s lecture. The visit to St. Vincent hospital helped me to build a more comprehensive approach on how hospitals generate revenue in terms of cost shifting and multiple-sites budgeting, The different visits with physicians helped us to bring different perspectives together to think more critically. More importantly, the visit to the IU Innovation center helped me to sort out the initial process on how to bring ideas and pitches into a solid plan of action. I highly suggest that students who are interested in Healthcare apply for this program. Last but not least, Dr. Howland’s Health Economics (ECON 235) class is a must-take for individuals who wish to pursue a career in healthcare.

Thanh Tran ‘17 – Throughout the Health Care Immersion Program, I learned a lot about the multiple facets of the health care industry in the USA, along with important influential factors including public policy, entrepreneurship, and economy. Especially the speakers in the program, who are experts in health care services, brought up the very insightful perspectives. We truly had interesting and in-depth conversation about health care throughout the talks. Furthermore, the program has essentially enhanced my personal viewpoint about the health care industry in the USA.

On the first day of the program, Dr. Stephen Jay from Fairbanks School of Public Health IUPUI talked about public health and health the care system in America. I found it very important as humans nowadays are still facing imperative global health issues such as infectious diseases, water and air pollution, global warming and health care access. Dr. Stephen Jay moved on to the second half of his talk about the limitations of the current health care systems. One of them is the insurance coverage for Medicare/Medicaid. For example, doctors and pharmacists are less likely to treat Medicaid patients because they wouldn’t get reimbursed adequately afterward.

One of the most remarkable points of the program is the trip to St. Vincent Hospital and IU Research center. Dr. Joe Trebly gave us a tour around the Research and Technology Center. This center is special in that it hosts many start-up medical and research firms. Dr. Trebly talked about the development and financial support of entrepreneurial avenues in science and medicine. In addition, Dr. Trebly gave us good advices on prospective careers and how to pursue what we are truly passionate about.

At the end of the trip, our group made a presentation about Health in Montgomery County and Indiana. Throughout the research, our group got to know more deeply about the specific health issues in Montgomery County and Indiana by applying what we had learned so far through the trip. Our group presentation has received positive feedback from professors at Wabash College.

Health1PREPMazin Hakim ‘17 – Health Care Immersion Program 2014. What can I really say? Countless times the thought crossed my mind how much my good friend (a pre-med student at Purdue) would love to take part in such an eye opening experience into the universe of healthcare that this program was. It is certainly a privilege of Wabash students to be able to participate and learn from such high standing Wabash alumni.

I feel that a brief introduction of myself and why I wanted to participate in the Healthcare Immersion Program would serve well.  First off, my name is Mazin Hakim (class of 2017) and I am a Chemistry major with a Math and Spanish double minor. As a part of the Wabash 3/2 dual-degree engineering program, I plan on studying chemistry, math, and Spanish at Wabash for three years and following that with two years of concentrated biomedical engineering studies at Purdue. Although the Wabash-Purdue biomedical engineering program is not quite set up yet, I am confident that I will be able to reach out to Purdue and demonstrate to them why I would like to go there to study biomedical engineering.

Along with my passion in science and engineering, I have held an interest in healthcare since studying anatomy and physiology in my sophomore year of high school. This is the reason why I found interest in and decided to take part in this immersion program. Mostly, I wanted to be able to figure out where biomedical engineering fell in the array of healthcare in the United States. Coming out of the program, I have found that, in some sense, it applies almost wherever I can imagine. Learning from Dr. Joe Trebley, head of startup companies at IURTC, I found that medical device startup companies are intertwined in healthcare policy, regulations, and patent laws. From Dr. Kolisek, president and orthopedic surgeon at OrthoIndy, biomedical engineering is directly applicable to the development of the prosthetic knees and hips they implement on a daily basis.

These are just examples among many. Knowing pretty much nothing about health care upon starting my four day journey, I also learned implications of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), and applied that to many opinions of where in the world health care is moving. The conclusion to take away from what I have seen throughout this program is that in modern, fast-paced American society, there exists virtually infinite sides to the broad field of healthcare.

As jam-packed as this week was with information and learning, it is almost hard to differentiate which speakers told me what. Overall, this was a great experience for me to learn about healthcare in our nation, bond with some Wabash brothers, and meet some pretty amazing alumni. But of course, none of this would have been possible without the support of the Lilly Endowment, which paid for our hotel and meals, and the organizers of the program. For this, I am truly grateful.

 Bilal Jawed ‘17 – The 2014 Wabash College Health Immersion Program made me feel stupid. As absurd and ridiculous as the previous statement may appear to be, I mean it in the most beautiful way. The program revealed to me a complicated and intricate world of health care, science, intellectual property, and everything in between. It was only until we saw these complexities up close from different perspectives that we truly understood how much more there is to health care. These extremely different perspectives are where the value of the Immersion Program lies. Experiencing Dr. Stephen Jay from the IU School of Public Health speak on a global perspective of health and then, within hours, witnessing Dr. John Roberts speak about these same topics right at home was truly amazing. The diversity of the immersion, such as Dr. Frank Kolisek’s discussion on million dollar orthopedic robots and their relationship with insurance companies coupled with Dr. John Sturman’s ethical discussion on opioid treatment of chronic pain truly blew me away. These are just a few of the examples of the amazing and diverse perspectives that were jam-packed in less than a week of immersion. As I absorb and “immerse” myself in these new perspectives, I am proud to say that I am now forming my own. Although the Health Immersion Program did make me “feel stupid”, it could not have been a better humbling experience, reminding me of how much more I have to learn and achieve.

I would like to give deep thanks to all the esteemed speakers who took time out of their extremely busy days, Dr. Howland, Betsy Knott, and Cassie Hagan for organizing and guiding us through this whirlwind, and Lilly Endowment, Inc. for making this opportunity possible.

 Tu Nguyen ‘17 – The Health Care Immersion Program was a wonderful opportunity for us to improve our understanding about the health care system and its existing problems. During the trip, we had the chance to talk with 7 speakers, who were very knowledgeable and enthusiastic. They provided us with multiple angles and opinions about the health care system in America. For instance, on our first day of the trip, Dr. Stephen Jay ’63, Professor of Medicine and Public Health at IU, talked about the general ideas, cost and benefit of the Affordable Care Act (Obama Care). In the evening of the same day, Dr. Joe Trebley ’01, Head of Startup Support and Promotion of IU Research and Technology Corporation, provided us with the economic and innovation perspective of the health care system. For that reason, the program has helped us to have a diverse view of medical-related careers, which betters our orientation of our career choice. I think this is an awesome opportunity for students, and not only those interested in the pre-med program, but students who are interested in other programs as well. I really wish that the program was longer so that we could have had more time to spend on deepening our understanding and thought about the health care system. Last but not least, thank you to the Eli Lilly Endowment, Dr. Frank Howland, and Mrs. Cassie Hagan, who had supported this program.

Dr. Frank Kolisek '82 talks health care with the students.
Dr. Frank Kolisek ’82 talks health care with the students.

Ethan Farmer ‘16 – Going into this immersion program, I thought I had my time after Wabash figured out. Due to my interest in health care, I am planning on going to medical school once I am done here at Wabash. One reason why this program looked so inciting to me is because of the diversity I thought I was going to experience. What I found out is that I had no idea how vast health care is and all of the different jobs that make up this vital part of our country. This diversity is something I quickly found out to be just as important as the specific field I am intending on pursuing, making it imperative that I learn more about it.

The Health Care Immersion Program allowed for this because we saw multiple alumni all over the health care spectrum. This included doctors like Dr. Jay, professor of Medicine & Public Health, and Dr. Emkes, Medical Director/Managed Care Services at St. Vincent, all the way to medical company startup entrepreneur Dr. Trebley. Some of the talks we participated in were very specific and discussed an issue pertaining to what they do, while other talks covered a broader range of health care including the ACA, how it affects doctors, and what it means for job searchers coming into the health care system. Being able to learn the various aspects of the health system through these alumni, has given me a new outlook on the health field and the vast opportunities it provides. Experiencing this immersion program has also made me excited to take up the challenges that the incoming medical students will have to address as we transition into the real world.

I would like to thank Betsy Knott, Cassie Hagan, and Dr. Frank Howland for their time, effort, and leadership as we continued through this program. I would also like to thank the Eli Lilly Endowment, Inc. for providing us with the ability to experience this opportunity.

Ryan Gross ‘17 – My experience during the 2014 Health Care Immersion Trip can be summarized as eye opening. I learned that the health system of America is extremely complex with a future of many uncertainties. The numerous Alumni that spoken to our small group of eight had a variety of perspectives towards the future of the health care system here in America. Hearing from health care professionals that hold different perspectives helped me polish my own views on this country’s health care system. As it turns out, the health care specific immersion trip turned into an opportunity to learn the culture of my fellow Wabash men as well. Our group had a variety of different cultures/ethnicities, which was another great learning experience in itself. Overall, I learned a lot of details about the health care system of America but also, I learned that a Wabash man is one who is hungry to acquire their goals regardless whether they’re a current student or an Alumni or even what country they originate from. I’d like to thank the Lilly Endowment, Dr. Frank Howland, Betsy Knott and Cassie Hagan for allowing me this valuable opportunity, one which I hope grows to inform more Wabash men about the future of this country’s health care system.