Physician, New Mom Pursuing a Future in Health Policy

Like many MHA@GW students, Dr. Pallavi Belur wants to make a difference and help shape the future of health care. A primary care physician in Bethesda, Maryland, she is interested in helping bridge the gap between physicians and administrators to improve the health of people in her community. The online Executive Master of Health Administration program is providing her with the skills she needs to achieve her goals and become a successful leader in this ever-changing industry.

“I am in the process of expanding my scope of work from primary care medicine to quality and safety improvement with the MedStar Institute for Innovation,” she says. “I see myself immersed in health policy in the future and residing close to Washington, D.C.”

Belur was drawn to the MHA@GW program primarily because she could earn a degree online from a top-ranked, accredited program. A veteran with Post 9/11 GI Bill Education benefits, she also appreciated the extra tuition assistance she received from the Yellow Ribbon Program. 

Belur says she values the MHA@GW’s live classes and virtual collaborative classroom structure. She likes how it enables her to interact and engage with classmates and professors from anywhere in the world. 

“I work during the weekdays and have family responsibilities as well — so it just wasn’t practical for me to attend classes in a traditional classroom,” Belur says. “The virtual classrooms are much more manageable for my schedule. Despite a busy schedule, I was able to continue the program, even while pregnant and caring for a newborn. Everyone was really supportive.”

She also finds the immersion experiences — opportunities to participate in real-world learning experiences on campus, in the United States and abroad — a real plus.

“The immersions are a great opportunity to spend time with and work with classmates,” she continues. “They offer great leadership-building opportunities as well as interesting lectures on health care topics that are current and relevant to today. I had the opportunity to go to Amsterdam for my third immersion, which was an invaluable experience.”

Belur grew up in Illinois and completed her undergraduate studies at Western Illinois University. After attending Northern Illinois University for graduate school in the Department of Biochemistry, she went to medical school and graduated from the Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine. While there, she joined the Army and took advantage of the Health Professions Scholarship Program. She completed her internal medicine residency training at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and Bluefield Regional Medical Center in West Virginia. At Walter Reed, she served as assistant medical director to the Quality Improvement and Patient Safety Committee.

Today, Belur is a primary care physician currently employed with MedStar Health. In 2015, the International Association of HealthCare Professionals named her one of “The Leading Physicians of the World.”

What advice would she offer someone considering the MHA@GW program?

“If you are professionally driven to obtain this degree, then it is definitely possible,” she says. “All of the professors, support staff and classmates have been very amicable. More than an intense, rigorous program, it is a practical one that offers real skills you can use.”

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