March 28, 2023

By completely different jobs throughout the nation, Dr. Sharmila Makhija has devoted her work to healthcare.

And like everybody else, she’s skilled healthcare from a shopper standpoint — from the great to the not-so-good.

“From my private experiences managing my well being and thru the lens of being a caretaker of my mother and father and our household’s healthcare wants, it’s fairly clear the healthcare system is fractured and wishes transformation,” she mentioned.

Makhija’s subsequent cease in her completed skilled profession will carry her to Arkansas, working with one of many world’s main philanthropists to reimagine medical training in a manner they hope can be thought-about a pacesetter in bettering well being and wellness.

Makhija will start in Could because the founding dean and chief government of the Alice L. Walton College of Medication (AWSOM) in Bentonville. First introduced in March 2021, the medical college is a standalone sister group of Bentonville nonprofit Complete Well being Institute, created in 2020 by Walton, the Walmart Inc. heiress and philanthropist.

The college has beforehand made a number of tutorial and medical hires and appointed 9 founding board members, together with Dr. Lloyd Minor, dean of Stanford Medication, an instructional medical middle that features the Stanford College College of Medication, Stanford Well being Care and Stanford Medication Kids’s Well being.

The campus will take form east of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Artwork on roughly 20 acres alongside Northeast J Avenue.

Development of the 154,000-square-foot constructing will start this spring. Polk Stanley Wilcox is the lead architect for the venture. Crossland Development is the final contractor.

Starting with its top notch of scholars in 2025 and pending the suitable accreditations, AWSOM will supply a four-year medical degree-granting program that integrates typical drugs with holistic rules and self-care practices.

“We plan on doing this with a curriculum that integrates the whole-person strategy to healthcare,” Makhija mentioned. “Which means wanting on the bodily, psychological, emotional and social facets of look after sufferers and suppliers.

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“And parallel with the medical training plan, we are going to work with healthcare techniques to design a complete healthcare supply mannequin. Sure, there’s a medical college, however there’s a complete plan. You possibly can’t be siloed and work [only] with training. It’s important to have a look at the complete system. That’s what introduced me right here, and that’s what’s thrilling.”

An oncologist by coaching, Makhija is the division chair of obstetrics, gynecology and girls’s well being at Albert Einstein Faculty of Medication and Montefiore Well being System in Bronx, N.Y.

She has labored there for nearly eight years, residing in an condominium overlooking Central Park.

“My associates inform me I’ll miss that. However I’m going from wanting down on the bushes to being with the bushes, and I feel that’s a a lot better setting,” she quipped.

Born and raised in Montgomery, Ala. — “I’m a real Southerner at coronary heart” — Makhija’s mother and father have been educators. Her father was a school chemistry professor, and her mom taught highschool biology. Makhija selected her profession path earlier than she was 10 years previous.

“There was nobody within the household that I handled immediately day-after-day [who worked] in drugs,” she recalled. “We had household associates who have been medical doctors, and I used to be at all times intrigued about it.”

She was so that when she was 9, Makhija introduced to her mother and father that she was prepared for the job shadow of all job shadows. Makhija’s grandfather was a basic surgeon and household drugs practitioner in India.

“Youngsters normally go to their grandparents throughout the summer time, however mine have been so distant,” she defined. “However I informed my mother and father I needed to go to India to spend time with my grandfather to see if that is actually what I wish to do.”

And so, at 9, Makhija boarded a Pan American flight and flew by herself to India to spend the summer time along with her grandparents. She loved “compulsory” child issues like dancing and portray, however accompanying her grandfather to work every day was the perfect half.

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“I carried his physician bag day-after-day,” she recalled. “I felt my job was to evaluate the sufferers within the ready room so I may inform him what was taking place. I might take notes and go in and report. I simply fell in love with being with the folks, studying their wants and attempting to assist them.

“I declared then that I used to be going to be a doctor.”

Makhija earned her B.A. in chemistry from Cornell College (1988) and a medical diploma from the College of Alabama at Birmingham (1992). She accomplished her obstetrics and gynecology residency on the College of Louisville Hospital (1996) and a fellowship in gynecologic oncology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Most cancers Heart in New York (1999).

Makhija obtained her government MBA from Emory’s Goizueta Enterprise College in 2011. She has held school positions on the College of Pittsburgh and the College of Alabama at Birmingham.

At Emory, Makhija was the division chief of gynecologic oncology, a Georgia Most cancers Coalition Distinguished Most cancers Scholar, and the Leach Endowed Chair in obstetrics and gynecology. She served as division chair of obstetrics, gynecology and girls’s well being, a tenured professor of gynecologic oncology, and the Donald E. Baxter Endowed Chair in obstetrics and gynecology on the Louisville College of Medication.

Whereas at Louisville, she was the chief medical and operations officer for the Heart for Ladies and Infants and taught a course within the government MBA program.

“Sharmila has a formidable profession that spans tutorial, scientific, and enterprise settings — and great success in inspiring groups and communities,” mentioned Walter Harris, president of healthcare transformation for Artwork and Wellness Enterprises (AWE), a providers group supporting nonprofits based by Alice Walton, together with AWSOM and Complete Well being Institute. “Her management and keenness will promote the imaginative and prescient to remodel medical training and care, beginning with creating a brand new pipeline of physicians.”

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Like many completed healthcare students, government recruiters strategy Makhija often about distinctive job alternatives.

“I by no means say no [to listening] as a result of I wish to study them, but when it’s not for me, I’m going to at the least attain out to some individuals who could be fitted to the place,” she mentioned.

However as she realized concerning the job alternative in Northwest Arkansas, Makhija was intrigued, even when slightly unclear about Alice Walton’s overarching objective.

Walton based Crystal Bridges Museum of American Artwork, and her confirmed dedication to bettering entry to the humanities resonated with Makhija. It helped buoy her curiosity in Walton’s deal with healthcare transformation—and the place these efforts would possibly lead.

She mentioned Walton’s plans, typically talking, have been and proceed to be a preferred and severe matter in healthcare circles.

“Any time there’s something slightly completely different, it will get consideration,” she mentioned. “It was taken severely, however no one actually knew what it meant. As I spent extra time studying about it they usually advanced and commenced hiring folks, you might see this wasn’t going to be an everyday medical college. There’s nothing incorrect with an everyday medical college, as we now have now. This [medical school] addresses total facets of healthcare.”

Makhija remembers her preliminary group interview with Walton and listening to the imaginative and prescient from her immediately as significant.

“You can actually really feel that it was deep in her coronary heart,” she mentioned. “She needed one thing completely different. It simply clicked. The extra time I spent with Alice and the workforce she’s introduced [to Northwest Arkansas] to work on this…they got here as a result of they’re centered on doing one thing good. I felt like collectively we may actually construct this into being an unimaginable establishment.”