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Career Conversations: Dr. Michael Apkon ’02, CEO Tufts Medical Center and Floating Hospital for Children

Episode 3: Dr. Michael Apkon ’02, CEO Tufts Medical Center and Floating Hospital for Children, with Keval Desai ’20


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Dr. Michael Apkon ’02 is CEO Tufts Medical Center and Floating Hospital for Children. He is interviewed by Keval Desai ’20, a joint MBA/MD student at Yale SOM and the Yale School of Medicine. 

Dr. Michael Apkon ’02, president and CEO of Tufts Medical Center and the Floating Hospital for Children, is a physician executive and physician scientist. In that capacity, he leads a 415-bed hospital staffed by 6,000 employees, scientists, medical staff, students, and volunteers with a $1 billion budget. Prior to coming to Tufts Medical Center, Apkon was the president and CEO at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto, Ontario, recognized as one of the world’s top children’s hospitals and Canada’s most research-intensive hospital. Apkon has also held senior executive and academic roles at top academic health science centers, including senior vice president for medical affairs and the chief medical officer for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) as well as roles at Yale University School of Medicine and Yale New Haven Health System, including being the vice president for performance management at the Yale New Haven Health System and the vice president/executive director leading Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital. He has held faculty positions at the University of Toronto, the University of Pennsylvania, and Yale University’s School of Medicine and School of Management. 

Keval Desai ’20 is a first-year MBA student pursuing a  joint degree with the Yale School of Medicine. He has completed the core clinical clerkship year and sub-internship. Prior to coming to Yale, Keval pursued a bachelor of science from the University of California, San Diego, and studied comparative philosophy and religion in India. Keval hopes to combine his passion for medicine and training at Yale SOM to pursue a career in health systems administration, looking for ways to make health care more efficient and affordable. Keval was born in India and grew up in Northern California. 


Dr. Apkon on balancing being a physician/scientist: (00:05): “I’ve found it enormously valuable to remain clinically active. It reminds me why I am doing the administrative part of my job, to really make the systems in care better.”

Dr. Apkon on bringing the things he learned at SOM to the office: (03:49) “There's so many times when I feel like I'm channeling one of my SOM professors as I approach different problems in my day-to-day work. As an example, in the courses on decision making and game theory, I remember Barry Nalebuff, who was one of our faculty members at the time, talking about the principle of co-optition, and the fact that there are times when you need to cooperate and compete with business partners at the same time. That's a principle that I have directly embedded in some of the strategic alliances that I've worked hard to build over my last few years of my career. So that’s something that...I still channel those classes even today almost twenty years later in the way I think about business alliances and some of the competitive strategy in my world.”

Dr. Apkon on the importance of meaning at work: (12:08): “Having meaning in my work is really vitally important, it’s the main motivation for coming in and doing what I do every day. Fortunately in healthcare it’s been relatively easy for me to find meaning in the work. Being able to sit with patients and their families, and really see the impact that we have on their lives, is a way to provide real meaning. One of the things that I've introduced is the idea of mission reminders in our management meetings that bring in some story, some letter from a patient or family that remind us as executives, as administrators, why we're here every day and the impact that we have on peoples lives.”

Download the transcript.


Resources & Show Notes

Tufts Medical Center & Floating Hospital for Children

Donaldson Fellowship at Yale SOM & 2018/9 Donaldson Fellows

Joint MBA/MD Degree at Yale SOM

About Career Conversations

In this podcast series, SOM students sit down with alumni for a series of candid conversations about career paths, industries, opportunities for MBAs, and discussions on various career topics including work-life balance and creating a meaningful impact in business and society. This series is produced by and recorded at the Yale School of Management.