Crossing an Ocean for Her Career
PROVO, Utah – Aug 09, 2021 – Growing up with a father who worked as a physician, Emily Gertsch always planned to pursue a career in medicine. However, shortly before Gertsch applied to the BYU nursing program, her roommate suggested she take an introductory accounting class. Gertsch enjoyed the class so much that she decided to apply to the School of Accountancy (SOA) at the BYU Marriott School of Business. Although her career path eventually led her back to the medical field, Gertsch still applies her accounting skills to her current position as a medical director for F. Hoffmann-La Roche AG.
After graduating from BYU Marriott with her MAcc in 2002, Gertsch again felt pulled toward working in medicine, so she took a leap of faith and applied to medical school. She began medical school at Saint Louis University in 2003. In 2006, Gertsch took a year off of medical school and entered an accelerated master of public health program at Harvard. After completing her coursework for her MPH, she returned to Saint Louis University to finish her MD, receiving both degrees in 2008.
Gertsch completed her residency in pediatrics at the Mayo Clinic in 2010, her specialization in child neurology at the University of Colorado in 2013, and her subspecialization in pediatric neuro-oncology at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in 2014. In April 2021, she crossed an ocean to continue her career, moving to Switzerland and accepting a position as a medical director in the pharmaceutical industry for F. Hoffmann-La Roche AG, a multinational healthcare company.
“I felt honored to be hired by Roche, a global leader in pharmaceutical and diagnostic research development. We’re starting a new department of neuro-oncology, a field in great need of more research and therapeutic options for patients,” she explains. “One of the higher-ups in the company came to me after I started working and said, ‘We want to start a new program for stroke and neuro-oncology, and with your background, we think you would be perfect to help build the program.’ Few people in the medical world have my specific route of training and clinical experience to understand both neurology and oncology and how the two fields overlap.”
Gertsch loves her current job because of Roche’s willingness to expand and take risks. Neuro-oncology is still growing and requires further experimentation, but Gertsch looks forward to all of the opportunities in the field. “I’m impressed with Roche and the company’s commitment to investing in such an underdeveloped field,” she says. “Although some organizations might consider such a move to be dangerous, I think no success comes without first taking risks. I love being surrounded by people who willingly move out of their comfort zones every day.”
Although her career led her down a nontraditional path for an SOA alumna, Gertsch often finds ways to apply the skills she learned from the accounting program to the everyday demands of her job. “I learned so much during my time with the SOA—skills such as networking, presenting, communicating, and understanding the dynamic of a client relationship. Client-business relationships are foreign to most people who go straight into medicine, so I’m lucky to have my business background giving me those skills,” she says.
“I also learned how to have confidence in myself and my knowledge,” Gertsch continues. “In the accounting program, you learn how to find the answer to any scenario by applying the legal jargon in the tax code. Even if you don’t know the answer off the top of your head, you feel confident in your ability to search for the answer and apply what you know. Working in the medical field, I am continually asked to offer an expert opinion regarding complicated cases. I can go to medical and scientific literature and research, gather data, and apply the answer to the situation at hand—a skill I became confident in during my time in the SOA. I’m so grateful that I can use the skills I acquired in the accounting program to help me succeed in my career.”
Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Sarah Calvert