2016 Tillman Scholar

Jonathan Wood

Air Force
University of Pennsylvania
M.D. | MBA

“Executing smart strategies in community health requires innovation in healthcare economics.”

During seven years and four deployments as an Air Force intelligence officer, Jonathan believes he received far more than he gave. The greatest lesson he learned was the importance of purposeful risk-taking and the paradox that risk-aversion is the surest path to failure. In his post-military life, he has been inspired by the vision of a group of Christian doctors who moved into the poorest, most medically neglected and most “dangerous” neighborhoods of Memphis in an effort to redress the social and racial schisms underlying healthcare disparities. Motivated by their example, Jonathan has made his home in the inner city of Philadelphia, where he is pursuing a dual degree in medicine and business to help lead a nationwide movement of service-minded clinicians back into America’s poorest communities, serving as neighbors.

As a medical student, he has come to realize that while America practices the most advanced medicine in the world, it is not adequately delivered to poor rural and inner-city communities. Two often-cited reasons for these healthcare disparities are that physicians are generally unwilling to live in poor communities for low-paying primary care jobs, and that structural problems in our healthcare system do not make it fiscally possible to operate first-rate clinics among the poor. By pursuing his MBA as a Tillman Scholar, he wants to challenge these responses and shape smarter strategies for delivering high-quality medicine in low-resource environments, where crime and poverty have deterred others.