Patricia Mathelier (MBA/M.D. ’20) is a scientist. She knows full well that our health is affected by a variety of biological factors, from our individual DNA to the contagions each of us is routinely exposed to. But Mathelier also understands that social determinants like socioeconomic status, educational background, ethnicity and the communities in which we live impact our health as well. Leveraging these factors to identify innovative health care solutions to provide affordable and accessible care, Mathelier says, is where her passions lie.
“I believe that the people we need to provide more innovative solutions for are the people who really can’t pay, the people who may not have access to these types of luxuries.”
Mathelier, who hails from New York and attended Harvard, is a second-year student in UCLA Anderson’s full-time MBA program. She is also a student in the Charles R. Drew/UCLA Medical Education Program, which focuses on medicine aimed at urban and underserved communities. Mathelier has completed three of her four years of medical school and is on leave while she works on her MBA. She will later return to finish her degree in medicine. (Most students in the joint MBA/M.D. program do one combined year and finish in five years.)
“Our rotations allow us to have more access [than most medical school programs] into underserved populations in Los Angeles," Mathelier says of the Drew/UCLA program. "For instance, my ambulatory and family medicine rotations are more in the Compton area. I had a lot of rotations at the county hospitals. I’ve also had access to other UCLA-affiliated hospitals, such as Ronald Reagan and Cedars Sinai. This program specifically has a mission of working with urban underserved populations, and that was one of the biggest drivers in terms of my coming here. The demographics of L.A. really allow you to see health care from a variety of perspectives.”
Mathelier who was profiled in Poets @ Quants, views herself as an aspiring entrepreneur and says the Business Creation Option (which, along with the Applied Management Research program, is one of Anderson’s capstone field study choices for full-time students) is a good fit for her interests. Mathelier says she’s not yet sure about her long-term path in medicine, preferring to take her opportunities as they come. While doing a traditional residency after med school remains a viable option, Mathelier says that at the moment she’s prioritizing her entrepreneurial pursuits.
“If my BCO project builds traction and my partners and I are able to secure funding, and it shows signs of success while I’m at Anderson, then I’ll probably continue to go that route and pursue residency at a later point,” she says.
Malthelier and her BCO team are interested in mobile health possibilities and look to leverage mobile van units to take affordable health care to people who need it but whose access to it is limited. She and her partners are conducting feasibility studies in their Entrepreneurship and Venture Initiation course and will continue to work on the business plan in the classroom, while building the company as their BCO project.
Mathelier and her teammates eventually hope to bring health care solutions directly to people, whether it’s to a workplace or home, or to remote and rural communities. “Nowadays, when you look at a lot of health innovation startups, they’re really built around places because of the way the insurance systems work,” she says. “A lot of health care startups are pay-out-of-pocket, boutique-type things. I believe that the people we need to provide more innovative solutions for are the people who really can’t pay, the people who may not have access to these types of luxuries.”
Mathelier does plan to pursue life as a clinician as well. “Whether or not I go into residency now or later, it will happen at some point. I think my M.D. gives me leverage in terms of understanding the health care world,” she says. “But I also think there is much to be learned in residency. I love patients -- I love kids, in particular. So, chances are, I’ll go into pediatrics and work with children. I hope to combine my clinical as well as my business knowledge. Finding a role in the clinic or health care system that enables me to do a little bit of both would be ideal.”