While most Bryant MBAs were trying to navigate their businesses to meet the demands of a new, long-distance model, Paari Gopalakrishnan, MD, ’09MBA, Chief Medical Officer of Kent Hospital, faced a different set of challenges: He needed to prepare his hospital, staff, and the Rhode Island community to face a never-before-experienced global health crisis.
“This was an unprecedented public health emergency,” says Gopalakrishnan. “We had no idea how to treat this virus, how to approach it. There was no data on which to make decisions, which is how healthcare usually operates.”
“It’s been 12 years, but my [Bryant MBA] team members and I are still in regular contact. We still bounce ideas off each other, and that’s one of the most valuable resources I have.”
Rather than just react in a bubble, however, he found valuable information and support in the network of area hospitals and medical centers – which usually view each other as competitors.
“This last year showed me how great, in many ways, our healthcare system can be,” says Gopalakrishnan, who led the effort to set up Rhode Island’s COVID field hospital in Cranston. “We shared our successes and failures – it’s the best we could do without the benefit of years and decades of research. Everyone in healthcare is very resilient and adapted quickly to keep patients and staff safe.”
Gopalakrishnan received his medical degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and completed his internal medicine residency at Brown University, and has worked as a hospitalist – an internal medicine doctor who works at hospitals – in Greenville, SC, and Providence, RI. But he says his MBA (with honors) from Bryant University is what prepared him most for the crisis.
“I pursued a Master’s in Business Administration because I wanted to understand the finance side of medicine, but I found more than that – I really learned how to work as a member of a team among many disciplines.” He explains further, “Studying to be a doctor, you succeed or fail on your own. But the Bryant MBA taught me that being a good leader means using the strengths of the people around you to produce better, faster outcomes.”
Gopalakrishnan became a doctor because he could combine his love of science with his love of helping people. He moved into the administrative end to exponentially expand the number of people he could help.
“Feeling like I’m making a real difference for a larger group of people is what drives me,” he says. “We’re positively impacting the community, and that’s priceless.” Also priceless to Gopalakrishnan? The connections he made at Bryant.
“It’s been 12 years, but my team members and I are still in regular contact. We still bounce ideas off each other, and that’s one of the most valuable resources I have.”