In January 2017, John J. Wernert, MD (MHA, ‘96), joined the Sagamore Institute as a Vice President and the inaugural Director of the Center for National Health Policy and Innovation. The new Sagamore health policy center will assist health innovators and motivated political leaders to shape new health policy and practice with evidence and experience from the nation’s most successful states, like Indiana.
This new role will allow Wernert the opportunity to continue his service in health policy and focus on innovative models of care delivery. “The leaders and scholars at the Sagamore Institute are more than just an academic think tank; we are a real world ‘do tank,’ and we are working with various stakeholder groups to deploy these innovations into the healthcare field,” he said.
Wernert obtained his degree while practicing psychiatry at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. He credits his MHA degree for shaping his career path. “By having my Master of Health Administration it opened up all kinds of leadership opportunities that I wouldn’t have been able to pursue as a clinician alone.” As a physician and psychiatrist, the MHA degree provided him administrative skills, as well as a budgeting and finance education that he has relied on heavily throughout his career.
Wernert believes that students today are more savvy with technology and social media which will shape the future of healthcare delivery. He encourages students to recognize the unlimited opportunities that exist in healthcare. “For students pursuing an MHA or an MPH today, there is not a more exciting field to be considering. We are going from one wave to the next of delivering health services, and having an advanced degree will provide students the ability to get the educational background and field experiences to use it as a springboard for launching your healthcare career.”
Wernert served in the cabinet of former Gov. Mike Pence from 2014 to 2017 as the first physician to lead the Family and Social Services Administration for the state of Indiana. Wernert has practiced integrative medicine as a psychiatrist for 25 years, and credits his training in the MHA program with the ability to pivot from healthcare delivery to his administrative service with the state and now the Sagamore Institute.