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project in the MBA program. “I was using skill sets I was learning (in the MBA program) to set up this new corporation,” says Brown, who today also serves as medical director of the Cancer Center at Reading Hospital, and is a Fellow in the Society of Surgical Oncology, the American College of Surgeons and the American Society of Clinical Oncology. He also serves as Cancer Liaison Physician to the American College of Surgeons. Brown knew he would need to spend more time managing the new Spring Ridge Surgical Specialists (he estimates he spends 75 percent ecovery is painfully if not tragically slow in the poor of his time on medicine and surgery, and 25 percent on administration). He also understood island nation of Haiti. More than three years after the that management required a different skill set than being a surgeon, one that would equip tiny country was devastated by an earthquake while still him “to sit at the table with administrators.” recovering from the 2008 tsunami and hurricane, reconstruction “The strong part of the program was really strategic planning,” Brown says of his Alvernia is negligible. More than 350,000 Haitians are languishing in experience. “That, to me, was the core of the tent camps. Earlier this year, Dr. Michael T. Brown MBA ’07—a program, in being able to set out a strategic plan — set out a vision, break it down into manageable founder of Spring Ridge Surgical Specialists in Wyomissing, Pa., steps, and have strategic implementation so that you actually achieve your goal.” who specializes in surgical oncology — joined a weeklong medical It also provided an excellent grounding in mission trip to northern Haiti, lending his considerable skills to relieve finances, accounting, statistics and leadership, Brown says. “Alvernia was teaching us to be leaders, not bosses. And there’s a suffering there. He went with a group of 22 physicians and healthdifference,” he says. care providers from Reading, Connecticut and California. Calling on Franciscan values, the program stressed the need to It had been at least six months since any of the locals had seen a respect workers as individuals and bring the team along to reach a doctor, according to Brown. “There is some medical care, but you goal that everybody has in common. have to pay for it. And since they can’t afford it, it’s like it doesn’t “In order to be successful, you have to be successful the right way,” exist for most of the people.” “We saw 1,400 patients and did 108 operations,” Brown says. All, it Brown says. “And how you treat people is very important because that’s the foundation of your business, the foundation of your should be noted, at no cost to the recipients. reputation, the foundation of your character. Taking shortcuts and Operating under conditions that tested even the most skilled climbing over co-workers isn’t going to get you where you want to be surgeons and often using only local anesthesia, Brown performed if you’re leading an organization.” mastectomies and hernias. A mission trip to the Dominican Republic was a key part of It’s unlikely any of those receiving medical aid would have gotten Brown’s MBA experience. The whole class went to a school and the care they so desperately needed if it were not for an inspired “call to serve” felt by each of the doctors. For Brown, who was on his third convent, operated by the Bernardine Sisters who founded Alvernia, and put together from scratch a successful fundraising program that trip, that call first came in 2007 when he made his initial overseas raised more than $100,000 to build a second floor on the facility. mission as part of Alvernia’s MBA program. “I always had an inclination to do an overseas mission trip,” Brown The Philadelphia native, who graduated from the University says. “The MBA class gave me the opportunity.” of Scranton and Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson He has since gone back to the Dominican Republic on a Faith Care University, was already an accomplished surgeon active in the cancer mission trip, in addition to his recent Haiti trip. field. When Brown decided to get his MBA, he was president of The son of a Philadelphia Fire Department battalion chief, Brown Wyomissing Surgical Clinic, a practice with three doctors. One of his always had a penchant for science in school and discovered his partners, Dr. Joseph R. Levan, had earned his MBA at Alvernia and interest in medicine in the Boy Scouts, where he rose to the rank of recommended the program to Brown. Eagle Scout. At the time, Wyomissing Surgical Clinic was planning to merge with Reading Surgical Specialists, headed by Dr. Thomas C. Beetel, and Brown used the formation of the new group as his capstone Continued on page 60

26 Alvernia University Magazine 28

Theo Anderson


Alvernia Magazine Summer 2013