From Cornell's MPA to Medical School — Zachary's Story

From Cornell's MPA to Medical School — Zachary's Story-image

Zachary German graduated from CIPA in May of 2018 with a concentration in Social Policy, and a particular emphasis on Health Policy. He is employed by the United States Air Force Medical Service Corps as an Officer in Charge (OIC) of Administration Department, Health Services Administration, 174th Attack Wing Hancock Airfield, Syracuse NY.

We had the opportunity to ask Zachary a few questions about his experience in getting an MPA at Cornell University and discussed his plans to attend medical school. Here's what Zachary had to say.

Explore our digital resource page for MPA students — Enacting Change:  Tailoring Your MPA to Focus on Policy in the United States!

Why CIPA? There are a lot of MPA programs around, so what made you choose CIPA over other programs you were considering?

Something CIPA offered that set it apart from other programs was the right combination of resources. CIPA boasts a robust curriculum in and of itself but also allows students to have access to courses from other world-class programs on campus such as Cornell’s SC Johnson College of Business, the Law School, and the Sloan Program in Health Administration.

This kind of opportunity and curriculum diversity was exactly what I needed from an MPA program.

What are your long-term career goals? How did CIPA help prepare you for these?

My ambition is to build a dynamic career in the healthcare industry. I have studied and practiced healthcare from clinical, administrative, and policy disciplines. I also plan on attending medical school within the next two years to become a physician.

From my experience, there is often a disconnect of operational understanding and appreciation between administrators and practitioners and another disconnect between administrators and practitioners and policy makers. Without the proper understanding or perspective in each of these disciplines, I believe it difficult to elicit meaningful change within healthcare. This is why I have diversified myself across so many facets of healthcare–so that I can eventually inform practice and policy to improve patient care from a whole-circle approach.

What would you say are the top three reasons that CIPA was a good fit for you?

These reasons may be esoteric to my situation, but I will provide my top three. First, CIPA allowed me great autonomy in my degree plan. This ability was important to me since I wanted to take courses in other fields such as healthcare administration in order to complement my public administration course-work. Second, CIPA has a robust network of alumni and industry connections. No matter what the interest is, there is opportunity to gain professional experience whether it be an internship, fellowship, or research position. Third, Cornell is a large university, however, CIPA’s staff and cohort make it feel personable. Upon my first visit to campus I could tell that the faculty and staff really valued student interactions and would always be willing to help with any student need. This provided an environment with the resources of a large university and the personable feeling of a small community.

Are there any particular “stand out” experiences at CIPA that made a lasting impact on you?

The CIPA Capstone was a very informative and enriching experience. My capstone partner and I worked with our client, the Cornell Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research, to develop a 2-Generation framework that worked to make transparent the specific challenges faced by underserved and impoverished communities across the state of New York. This project was a very unique and exciting opportunity since we had the resources of the Bronfenbrenner Center backing us. Our project was presented multiple times to local and state officials. We were given the opportunity to present our project at the capital in order to pursue funding and a full-time employee was eventually hired to continue our work.

This opportunity was formative since it prompted interface with multiple tiers of stakeholders, multidisciplinary since we were able to work with researchers, post-docs, domestic policy makers, and government officials, gave me first-hand experience with following the policy process from development to execution, and provided experience with professionals and resources that I would not have otherwise had access to. 

How would you describe the sense of community you find at CIPA?

CIPA’s culture encourages a very close-knit community. Because of this culture, whether the task was studying for exams, completing a capstone project, finding an internship, or even getting a job, teamwork came naturally. Often during my tenure at CIPA, opportunities for jobs, internships, or experiences were shared to me through other members of my cohort.

Beyond that, I have formed many valuable relationships with students, staff and faculty that have and will continue to be meaningful throughout my professional career.

"Our graduates experience tremendous success finding employment across many key areas of public policy including education, healthcare, criminal justice, sustainability, infrastructure, and economic policy. If you are looking for an opportunity to make valuable contributions to the world around you, then you should make CIPA the next step in your career.”Maria Fitzpatrick, CIPA Director

If you have questions about attending Cornell University's Institute for Public Affairs, we encourage you to request more information today! 

Explore our digital resource — Enacting Change: Tailoring Your MPA to Focus on Policy in the United States — for advice and tips related to choosing a career in domestic policy-making.

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