Look Here for a UM Career

Dr. Ralph Wuebker is CMO at Optum 360, a revenue cycle company offering end to end solutions for hospitals and physician groups, and he hires and deploys UM physicians.

Ralph’s current responsibility is building Optum’s On Site Physician Advisor (OSPA) program, including: sales support, recruiting, training and oversight of physicians at over 70 hospitals.

UM physician advisor

Prior to that he worked as VP at Executive Health Resources, and was previously Medical Director at Great West Healthcare. He received his MD from the University of Missouri – Kansas City School of Medicine. He completed a pediatric residency at St Louis University. Several years later, he obtained an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis.

The University of Tennessee Physician Executive MBA Program

I'm very thankful to have the support of the University of Tennessee Physician Executive MBA Program offered by the Haslam College of Business. You’ll remember that I interviewed Dr. Kate Atchley, the Executive Director of the program, in Episode #25 of this podcast.

The UT PEMBA is the longest running, and most highly respected physician-only MBA in the country, with over 650 graduates. Unlike most other ranked programs, which typically have a duration of 18 to 24 months, this program only takes a year to complete. And, it’s offered by the business school that was recently ranked #1 in the world for the Most Relevant Executive MBA program, by Economist magazine.

University of Tennessee PEMBA students bring exceptional value to their organizations by contributing at the highest level while earning their degree. The curriculum includes a number of major assignments and a company project, both of which are structured to immediately apply to each student’s organization.

Graduates have taken leadership positions at major healthcare organizations and have become entrepreneurs and business owners. If you want to acquire the business and management skills needed to advance your nonclinical career, contact Dr. Kate Atchley’s office by calling (865) 974-6526 or going to vitalpe.net/physicianmba.

Ralph Wuebker's Transformation

Ralph was always interested in economics. Hence, after practicing medicine for a while, he returned to school to earn his MBA. Now Ralph understands the concepts needed to discuss financial topics, which can be intimidating to physicians.

Completing the MBA created a network of resources for Ralph, and access to mentors who helped him tackle specific problems. However, an MBA is not for everybody. Ralph thinks it’s critical to define what you want to do with the MBA before making the major investment of time and money.



Ralph ended up taking a position as a UM physician advisor with a company in the medical necessity space to evaluate claims, review patient status, and appeal denials.

He sometimes wondered if he was in over his head, so he continued his medical practice on the side.

Surprisingly, he started to enjoy his medical practice more as it became his “side hobby” and not a full-time grind seeing patients. He found that combining part-time clinical and non-clinical jobs created a more satisfying balance.

Don’t be Afraid of a Steep Learning Curve

Ralph did a lot of learning on the job. His first year was just as challenging as his intern year after medical school.

As a UM physician advisor, Ralph thinks experience isn’t the most critical aspect.. Instead, attitude, culture fit, and approach are more important.

He found that when you're a vendor at a for-profit company, there’s a similarity to seeing patients, because it involves a lot of customer service. The clients must feel like they’re getting value from the services you're providing.

“I’m a firm believer that the MD is probably one of the most versatile degrees on the planet.”

Ralph Wuebker, MD

Eventually, the company Ralph worked for was acquired. The best advice he received about such a transition: “Get ready. You're about to see the best in people, and the worst in people.”

Employees took on different roles and responsibilities. But the company continued to grow and provide opportunities for an increasing number of UM physicians.

Time to Climb the Corporate Ladder

Ralph took on greater management and leadership roles. He ultimately became CMO at Optum. He advises us that if your goal is to be CMO or CEO:

  • Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty;
  • Do the work that you expect every team member to do; and,
  • Embrace change.

Companies that Ralph worked for have changed what they do and how they do it through the years. But they still focus on helping hospitals and health systems navigate changing billing and collection challenges.

They still strive to decrease denials, improve appeals, and reduce the hassle factors of complex revenue-cycle systems.

UM Physician Opportunities

There are ample opportunities for physicians interested in utilization management / utilization review. Hospitals are always looking for physicians to be on their UM/UR committees.

And Optum is almost always hiring somewhere in the U.S. If you're interested, us the links below to check out available positions.

The ideal candidates will have a good medical foundation and 5-15 years of clinical experience. Regulations and guidelines can be taught, but it’s a lot harder to teach someone good medical practice.

Links for Today's Episode:

Careers at UnitedHealth Group

Dr. Ralph Wuebker’s Email

Dr. Ralph Wuebker on LinkedIn



What Color is My Parachute?

Pivot by Jenny Blake

Thanks to our sponsor…

We appreciate the UT Physician Executive MBA program for sponsoring the show. It’s an outstanding, highly rated, MBA program designed for working physicians. It might be just what you need to prepare for that joyful, well-paying career. You can find out more at vitalpe.net/physicianmba.

Thanks again for listening. I hope to see you next time on Physician NonClinical Careers.

As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.

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Podcast Editing & Production Services are provided by Oscar Hamilton.


The opinions expressed here are mine and my guest’s. While the information provided on the podcast is true and accurate to the best of my knowledge, there is no express or implied guarantee that using the methods discussed here will lead to success in your career, life or business. 

Many of the links that I refer you to, and that you’ll find in the show notes, are affiliate links. That means that I receive a payment from the seller if you purchase the affiliate item using my link. Doing so has no effect on the price you are charged. And I only promote products and services that I believe are of high quality and will be useful to you, that I have personally used or am very familiar with.

The information presented on this blog and related podcast is for entertainment and/or informational purposes only. It should not be construed as medical, legal, tax, or emotional advice. If you take action on the information provided on the blog or podcast, it is at your own risk. Always consult an attorney, accountant, career counsellor, or other professional before making any major decisions about your career. 

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