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KNOXVILLE — A New York oral surgeon has won a prestigious national award for significantly improving service — and he credits the Physicians Executive MBA and Lean Healthcare programs at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, for helping him.

Gary Wadhwa
Gary Wadhwa
Gary Wadhwa and the Adirondack Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Center of Albany, N.Y., won the Robert E. Fox Award, the “Oscar” of organizational improvement awards. Named after Robert E. Fox, author, business leader and pioneer of the continuous process improvement concept, the award is given to organizations that deliver bottom-line results and show continued improvement through innovative thinking.

Wadhwa’s team won the award for increasing the center’s number of patient visits by 60 percent during a five-year period while simultaneously increasing healthcare quality and patient satisfaction using the same amount of physicians and resources.

“These incredible advancements were the result of implementing organizational improvement philosophies I learned in the University of Tennessee Physician Executive MBA (PEMBA) and Lean Healthcare programs,” Wadhwa said. Both courses are offered in UT’s College of Business Administration’s Center for Executive Education (CEE).

“The concepts of Theory of Constraints, lean, and six sigma — normally used in the business environment — helped us identify and overcome three of the most common struggles in the healthcare industry: collections, patient recruitment and proper use of doctors’ time.”

The PEMBA program is the only year-long, accredited MBA program exclusively for physicians. The program is organized so that physician leaders can stay fully engaged in their careers while earning their degrees. It blends four, one-week residences with online interactive learning.

Along with a curriculum of planning, entrepreneurship, ethics, finance, information design and leadership, PEMBA students get a healthy dose of lean management principles that they can apply immediately to their own workplace initiatives.

“After graduating from PEMBA, I realized the value of a course dedicated to lean principles,” Wadhwa said. “Working with the CEE faculty, we developed Lean Healthcare in 2007, for which I am a faculty member.” The one-week Lean Healthcare program teaches how to deliver high-quality healthcare in an efficient manner while removing waste, variation and constraints.

PEMBA, which recently celebrated its 10th year, has been the No. 1 preferred MBA Program exclusively for physicians according to Modern Healthcare/Modern Physician magazines for five years.

PEMBA students have included 285 physician leaders representing 42 U.S. states; Saipan; Puerto Rico; and six other countries (Saudi Arabia, Germany, Turkey, Korea, Japan and Canada).


Cindy Raines, (865) 974-4359,