MBA Student

Taylor Harris

MD/MBA ’24
Taylor Harris
Taylor Harris
The MD/MBA was how I saw myself combining two different fields in my career.
May 7, 2024

On the verge of graduating from Stanford’s five-year dual MD/MBA degree program, Taylor Harris now sees how her parallel interests in biomechanical engineering, orthopedic surgery, and business entrepreneurship eventually melded into a clear vision for her future.

“Those were separate early on, and then converged later,” says the Seattle area native and Knight-Hennessy Scholar who graduated from Stanford with a BS in biomechanical engineering. “But then I got to medical school, and began pursuing orthopedic surgery, and then I realized that it’s extremely related to that specific medical field. It’s only now that I see all of those things coming together.”

Connect the dots for us from biomechanical engineering to the dual medical/business degrees.

I had started my biomechanical engineering major late in undergrad. I came to biomechanical engineering late in my undergraduate career, and after I’d done my Health Advances internship. I knew the business of healthcare was interesting to me. But it wasn’t until my venture capital internship that I decided for certain I wanted to do something related to physician entrepreneurship. I was exposed to really interesting ways of investing in healthcare, putting affordability and patient experience as the most important thing.

Did you recognize something from your work as an engineer that made you think you should pivot in some way?

I was always considering medical school during undergrad. For me, the most fulfilling things are interacting with patients, seeing how they do, interacting with families, and making one-on-one connections. Those things are extremely important to me. I definitely have that commitment to being a physician, and don’t see myself doing only healthcare business or entrepreneurship.

But why did an MBA degree feel important in addition to your MD?

The MD/MBA was how I saw myself combining two different fields in my career. During my internships, I got a sense of what it’s like to take newer ideas or technologies from the nascent stages to something that gets disseminated to a lot more people. The idea of physician entrepreneurship appeals to me because it’s broad and allows for doing all of the things I find interesting. The MD/MBA felt like a natural fit because it combines medicine and business.

What sort of clinical needs have you identified so far, and what sort of business might you envision starting to address those needs?

I expect that kind of more granular knowledge to come from the experiences I get in residency and beyond, because you are so totally immersed in the specialty you’re pursuing and get to see a lot more of the needs. This is early stages, not a built-out idea, but for example, I’ve noticed going through rotations that computer-guided surgery seems more prevalent in other types of surgical specialties and not orthopedics yet. I could imagine down the line trying to understand why that is. Are there barriers? Who has already tried to do this?

Any tips for someone who’s considering taking the same path at Stanford?

“There are a lot of parallels between medicine and business in terms of challenges to creating a more diverse workforce.”

Having a clear “why” of doing both is probably the most important thing. Also speak with people that have done the MD/MBA, people who are currently doing it, and people who considered it and maybe didn’t end up doing it. That provides a much broader perspective that a person could draw on to make that decision. Also, it would be interesting to talk to attending physicians who have gone back to do MBAs. That’s a growing trend, so talking to them about why they decided to do that after having an established practice could be helpful, too.

As an undergrad, you won four national championships for Stanford as a lightweight rower. How did you fit training and competitive rowing into the crazy-busy academic life you seem to have, and why did you prioritize that?

It was a lot to juggle with biomechanical engineering and knowing I wanted to go to medical school. For me it was more of just figuring out the most important things to me, and then prioritizing based off of that. My academics were super important, and being part of a team was really important. That’s a lot of time just between those two things. I was OK with not necessarily being able to do everything else. I had a very clear priority of what I wanted from my undergrad career.

Why did you give being part of a team that much weight?

There was something about being on a team that I did not see replicated anywhere else. There’s a community in that. One of my best friends from college is from that team. I actually loved racing, and there was just a lot of personal development, and a lot of opportunities for growth in terms of discipline and a growth mindset that came from sports. There were a lot of things I felt, consciously or subconsciously, during that time I knew I could not replicate without the team and that sport.

Why have you emphasized diversity in your leadership and service efforts?

There’s something important about creating a physician workforce that represents the patients it serves. In general, there’s a lot to be gained in creating a diverse community and a diverse trainee population. There’s a lot trainees can learn from each other, which makes them more prepared to serve a diverse population, but then there’s also something to be said for patients to see themselves reflected in their physician population as well. That’s why it’s important to me. And there are a lot of parallels between medicine and business in terms of challenges to creating a more diverse workforce. How do you address that? How do you create opportunities? How do you retain people? I think it’s very timely, and whether it’s a business organization or a healthcare organization, the overall health and efficacy of those organizations improves with a diverse community and workforce.

Have you found any especially helpful mentors along the way?

At every time in my life, I can point to someone who supported me, gave me advice, and believed in my potential. When I was younger I didn’t realize finding a mentor is an active process. It doesn’t just happen. The ones I have found are people who I’d love to emulate with my medical career and people who have been generous enough with their time to invest in me and help me navigate the whole process.

What do you find most inspiring about the people you want to emulate?

As a doctor, a lot of it comes down to patient interactions — the time that gets spent with the patients, the connections that are built, the space created that’s safe for the patient and their family. That’s something I want to do when I become a physician. The other thing is work ethic. The thing that unifies all of them is that they’re hard-working and dedicated people.

Any classes, professors, or experiences that were particularly influential during your Stanford MBA experience?

The course Equity by Design dovetailed with my prior work with diversity, equity, and inclusion in med school and provided me a framework to think about DEI and different ways to attack the issues and create solutions. Then there was a class, Analysis and Measurement of Impact, taught by Jaclyn Foroughi that was one of the best classes I’ve taken at business school. The word “impact” is very closely aligned with what I’m trying to do in medicine and physician entrepreneurship, but it’s a nebulous term. I loved that this class looked at that concept head-on and tried to find different frameworks for defining impact.

Photos by Elena Zhukova

Taylor Harris
Taylor Harris
MD/MBA ’24
Seattle, Washington, USA
BS, Biomechanical Engineering, Stanford University
Professional Experience
Teaching Assistant, Anatomy for Bioengineers, Stanford University
Analyst Intern, Biomatics Capital, Seattle
Analyst Intern, Health Advances, San Francisco
Current Profile