Should an MD Get an MBA?
J Orthopaedic Experience & InnovationFreedman, Ilan, Derek J. Donegan, Edward Hellman, Chirag Patel, David Kay, Douglas Dew, Samuel Rosas, et al. 2020. “Should an MD Get an MBA?” Journal of Orthopaedic Experience & Innovation, July.
In these current business-oriented times, many orthopaedic surgeons have gone for or thought about getting an MBA. This paper compiles the answers of a group of surgeons from our editorial board and the Ortho Founders group.
It all started when Ilan Freedman, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon in Moorabbin, Victoria, Australia asked the question: “I am a young orthopaedic surgeon. I have a lot of innovative business ideas. Is it worth getting an MBA?” His expanded question was:
By self-selection, all surgeons reading this journal/blog are interested in the orthopaedic experience and in orthopaedic innovation. I therefore wish to pose this scenario to the editorial group and wider readership:
As surgeons we are trained to identify, analyze and fix anatomical problems. Through our craft we become intimately familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of our existing toolsets and are well positioned to identify opportunities for innovation, whether that be incremental improvements or completely new ways to address a problem. However, most surgical residency and surgical fellowship programs do not empower surgeons with the skills and connections to bridge the gap between “idea” and actualization of surgical innovation.
I therefore wish to pose: Should a surgeon with an interest in surgical innovation get an MBA? Does it pay dividends? Are there better more targeted ways and programs to bridge the leap between surgeon and surgical innovator? Are the actual skills learned through an MBA practically applicable or would the surgeon innovator just be buying the letters on a business card that may get him/her through the door with an investor/device company? (and if so, is the latter still worth it). Can surgical colleagues with a successful history of innovation/startup launch who did/did not go the MBA route provide insight into their innovation/entrepreneur journey?
We’re all reading this journal because we believe and want to push innovation. Is an MBA a necessary tool for the surgical innovator of tomorrow?
Edward J. Helman, MD, MBA
Orthopedic Surgeon at OrthoIndy
Not every MD needs an MBA. Because of this, before advising someone on getting an MBA I think they should answer a few other questions. First should be an assessment of their understanding and abilities in a business context. Can you express your “innovative business ideas” to a (non-MD) businessman in terms that will be meaningful to them? Can you explain how your idea will affect cash flow, profit/loss, operational efficiencies? How do your ideas mesh with the macroeconomic conditions and the local business environment? What are the barriers to entry and how do they affect the chances of success of your ideas? If it would be difficult to answer these questions for someone with limited understanding of medicine, then an MBA may be very helpful.
The second set of questions to ask a potential MBA student relates to their goals, and how the degree will help them achieve those goals. Are you hoping to fix your dysfunctional hospital? Do you want a leadership position (department chairman, CMO, etc.) within the hospital? With the mergers of hospitals into large health systems it may be necessary to have an MBA to get one of these positions. Are you hoping for a leadership position in your private practice? If so, does your practice have additional service lines that make its business more complex (therapy, imaging, urgent care, ASC, etc.)? Are you hoping to start a business? If so, do you have the contacts in the business community to help get it off the ground? Do you have interests in health systems and health care delivery and reform on a large scale? An MBA may be very helpful in many of these areas.
When I look back on my career, I do not think an MBA would have been helpful in my early post-fellowship years. At that stage of my career I was focused on perfecting my craft and becoming the best orthopedist I could. I couldn’t have answered the questions above in a way that would justify the time needed to earn an MBA. As I progressed in my career, I realized that my ability to care for patients was adversely affected by the system I was working in. The only way I could improve patient care was to improve the system. At that point an MBA became necessary. The MBA has given me a new way of looking at the problems I had been dealing with on a daily basis. This new perspective has given me a new outlook on my career, my practice, and medicine in general. I thoroughly enjoyed the classes and my relationship with my classmates and professors. I remain active with the business school and its MBA program. I highly recommend and MBA for the right person at the right stage in their career.
Chirag Patel, MD
Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Surgeon at OrthoCollier
I thought about an MBA very hard and seriously. I ultimately decided against it. The reason being is that I felt the MBA was more of a title (to become an administrator) and developing connections. Well, what connections can be fostered when my focus would be on my practice and family (and taking classes online)? I felt that I have many skills and knowledge to navigate the business aspect of my career and life on my own. I have surrounded myself with many people with experience and resources which can be relied upon. Without aspirations of being a hospital administrator, I just didn’t see any obvious return on investment for my time and money in pursuing an MBA. I just didn’t feel that an MBA program would enhance my way of handling the situations life would throw at me. So far, I have not come across any scenario where I felt an MBA after my name would have produced a more favorable result.
My advice to anyone considering an MBA is to use the degree as a tool to achieve a goal. We have already spent a decade of our lives in training. Any additional training may have a diminishing margin of return. So one would really have to weigh the pros and cons before incurring more debt (both temporal and monetary).
Hope this helps.
David Kay, MD
Professor Orthopedic Surgery, Northeast Ohio Medical University
I have asked myself several times whether I should obtain a MBA. When I started on my startup adventures I barely had time and was back in residency mode – up at 5, worked until 6, saw my wife and kids and then from 1000-200 am I would work on my ideas. My vacations were spent traveling at my cost to the large orthopedic companies to see if they were interested in what I was doing. This was the mid 1990s and the internet was very early, market research in extremities was unavailable and physician entrepreneurs were almost nonexistent. One local physician, Art Steffee (AcroMed) was embroiled in litigation over pedicle screws. My father is a CPA, so I did grow up with a very basic business understanding. I read books and worked with advisors to develop skills further. Finding advisors is a whole separate topic. My first business plan was from a computer template.
Over time, I took certificate courses, two from Case Western Weatherhead Business school and Jack Welch. My true business skills came from the board room at OrthoHelix. Our board chairman and VC is an amazing business man, Bill Cadogan; Niles Noblitt – founder of Biomet and Laurence Fairey – founder of Richards and Danek, former Wright CEO, as well as the VC investors Wayne Wallace, Bill Trainor and Carter McNab. The message was always clear – once we are at cash flow break even, the world changes. Understanding the management of top line and bottom line, to get to cash flow break even is essential. But the best advice came from Laurence, “It’s all about sales”.
To answer the question, if you want another diploma for the wall, reconsider. If you want to work in private equity or run a public company, go for it. Otherwise, find a certificate course on business fundamentals, go make some mistakes and work harder than you ever have worked.
Douglas Dew, MD, MBA
Co-Founder and CEO, Automated Clinical Guidelines, LLC, St. Johns Shoulder Knee & Joint Clinic, Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Central Florida College of Medicine
As far as getting an MBA – my two cents: at the end of residency, I asked my attorney who was head of enterprise Florida at the time should I go back and get an MBA and was deciding to go full time business vs surgical practice (I picked surgery). He told me no that I did not need it and I really did not think a PhD or MPH really offered much. He told me since I had done various things early (served as GP on two limited partnerships, raised money from major VC firms, served on the board of a public company, served as a CEO and founder of a VC backed company, received multiple patents for my development work, served as PI on FDA IDE trials, as well as co-authoring multiple regulatory documents), I would not get much value from the MBA. I went back to get my MBA later on in practice as I became interested in building an expert (AI) system that could learn all of medicine for both diagnosis and treatment as well as meeting medical necessity for prior authorization. The final goal of the software platform is to perform auto-adjudication of claims with the diagnostic care pathway software validated for marketing as a FDA regulated medical device. For the non-medical business world, the MBA is also needed for credibility if someone does not know your specific background. But for my business, my business card does not have my MBA or MD on the card – a separate story
The reason the card has neither is that some docs will look upon you suspiciously due to the MBA degree – and in the business world many executives (especially on the payor side) will not talk freely with you as they are afraid they will look stupid talking to a doctor. I went to a meeting of a large health system (no MD on the tag) where they started the meeting with “the doctors are no longer our customers” – on how they no longer have to worry about making the doctors happy – needless to say most docs are miserable at that institution. At another meeting our hospital was going thru an audit from Blue Cross and the CFO brought me in to discuss the medical necessity with their VP of audits – when he found out I was an MD he stopped the meeting as they had a policy they could not talk to docs without a medical director present. The CFO explained to him that I was a board member representing the board and hospital and not as a doc. He called corporate to get permission and the meeting proceeded. Just a few points on why I just have “Doug Dew” on my card outside my office.
In summary, I would tell someone if they are wanting to go into the business world after medical school, definitely get the MBA. If later (after some few real-world experience), one should consider going back to school to get the MBA for a specific purpose or project.
Derek J. Donegan, MD, MBA
Assistant Professor, Department of Orthopaedics at Penn Medicine, University of Pennsylvania Health System, My EMBA Experience
The current day Orthopaedic surgeon, or any physician for that matter, wears many different hats. The obvious ability to have clinical acumen and the skill set to take care of patients are learned in great depth in medical school, residency and fellowship. The necessary skills to be a leader and manage the business side of medicine are largely underemphasized. As I have matured in my career and practice, I realized these skills that are glossed over in the majority of our medical education are just as important as the skills that are hammered into us for easily over a decade. A quote that I have heard more recently was: “Healing is an art, medicine a profession, health care a business.” This is something that I have experienced first-hand over the past few years. As the focus of modern-day medicine has shifted from providing quality care to providing quality care at a low cost, the ability to marry the art, the profession, and the business of health care has become critical to one’s success.
When I initially sought out to pursue my MBA degree, I was looking to gain a more formal educational experience on business fundamentals, leadership, and economics that I could apply to the health care environment. I was interested in learning the principles of statistical analysis, negotiation strategies, team management, and strategic formulation to allow me to be more successful at navigating this complex health care system that we practice in and to provide the most effective and cost-conscious care to my patients.
As I finished my journey through this process two years ago, I reflected at the time on how I had come to appreciate that this had been more than just acquiring another skill set. This had actually been a transformative experience that caused me to exit a much different individual than when I entered. There have been three reasons suggested for an MD to get an MBA and I thought that I would provide my personal experience behind them as I have matriculated through Temple University’s Fox School of Business EMBA program. These three reasons are: developing a new perspective; acquiring skills; and, building bridges.
Developing a New Perspective
If an MBA would do nothing more for an MD than to help develop a new perspective, then that would be enough to justify any cost incurred for the degree. It is easy to lose perspective when you are constantly surrounded by like-minded individuals doing the same thing on a daily basis. The ability to expand outside of your comfort zone and interact with people from many different industries has been one of the biggest assets of obtaining this MBA degree. It is often stated that your intent of your action does not matter as much as how others perceive it. Gaining a better appreciation for how others perceive and react to your actions can provide significant insight to how you approach different situations. This better understanding can lead to heightened self-awareness and overall improved emotional intelligence. As part of the Temple EMBA program, we were put into groups of 6 to work as a team for the duration of the program. My group consists of a Senior Vice President for an air-fleet management group, a General Manager for GMC, a Global Project Manager for Jansen Pharmaceuticals, Legal Counsel for Discovery Inc., and the CFO for the City Counsel of the City of Philadelphia. This deep immersion with a new group of people from diverse backgrounds provided many opportunities to develop a new perspective. The beauty of it was that with every business lesson we learned, I was able to gleam a perspective from each of these individuals and their industries that I could apply to the health care sector and my current position. Additionally, the “real-life” experience that each member of the cohort would contribute to the class discussions proved to be invaluable.
Matriculating as an EMBA student has brought with it the commonly thought of classes such as Corporate Strategy, Finance, Marketing, and Operations Management. These classes were completely new to me. While I was accustomed to learning new skills from a technical perspective in the operating room, these skills proved to tax a different part of my brain. As the process unfolded, my grasp of the financial nuances became stronger and my ability to apply these concepts to the health care sector improved. The terms “Net Present Value” and “Internal Rate of Return” actually meant something to me and started to help me form a strategy for thought and discussion at a higher level. These skills I acquire will also help me to view medicine and the cost of health care from a very different lens. It will also allow me to take a more holistic approach to understanding the extremely complex environment that we work in and enhance my ability to ask the appropriate question and expect the appropriate answer.
While the analytical skills mentioned above proved to be useful, the greatest return that I have realized was my further development as a leader. The overlying theme of leadership and professional development throughout my EMBA curriculum has proved to be incredible insightful to both my strengths and my weaknesses as a leader. It has also provided the opportunity to hone my skills and further strengthen my strengths and improve on my weaknesses. These skills will prove to be priceless as I continue to advance in my career.
Finally, the concept of building bridges has been a constant thought throughout my time at the Fox School of Business. When I initially heard this reason, I immediately thought of building the bridge between clinicians and administrators in the health care sector. This seemed to be obvious given the reasons most choose to pursue this degree. As I have ventured through this, I must admit that the new perspective I have gained and the newly acquired skills have facilitated building these bridges, and I imagine that as I continue to mature in my career, this will continue to grow and develop with me.
The other idea of building bridges that has been more of an evolution of thought throughout this process has been my relationship or “networking” with my colleagues in the program and in other cohorts from different industries. As stated earlier, I have gained a tremendous amount of insight from my interactions with these colleagues. Additionally, I have forged lasting relationships that will continue to add value to my personal and professional life. The opportunities to be involved in innovative ideas and potential game changing initiatives has significantly increased with these relationships.
In conclusion, the decision to pursue an MBA degree in the early stages of my career as a physician was a long, thought out process. I had my preconceived notions of what this was going to afford me and the potential opportunities that this experience would create. I have been absolutely amazed at the actual insights that this journey has allowed me to gain and the perspective that I now carry. It has met all of my expectations and has exceeded them. I look forward to continuing to hone my skills as a leader, an innovator, and a clinician with this newly acquired knowledge.
Michael Engl, MD, MPH
Medical Director and Head of Orthopedic and Trauma Unit – General Hospital Sterzing – Südtiroler Sanitätsbetrieb – Azienda Sanitaria dell’Alto Adige, Italy
In contrast to the colleagues from the US, who are interested in R&D, marketing or in building a start-up, I work in a public hospital within a health system that grants equal access to every citizen. Therefore my interest is to improve the system from a MD point of view. This necessitates the knowledge of administrative and managerial skills that can be learned through a MBA.
I am convinced that we (as medical professionals), in the past decennials have given away, willingly or unwillingly the leadership in health care to administrators. Probably we were not aware of that and the system slowly advanced to the point where the medical profession who should be supported by administrations is led by the latter. They may get education in health care management as well, but they will never have the same view as a MD who knows what is best to get the system run smoothly and efficient. Furthermore, the credibility among the colleagues is different when the top management is a medical one and the acceptance therefore higher.
I think an MBA not only teaches me the basics in terms of financial and managerial skills but also leadership skills that serve me in my further career and it gives me a more holistic view. As orthopaedic surgeon I always will practice “individual medicine” but to make a difference I have to be able to engage in the discussion of the future of the system and to push the boundaries beyond individual medicine.
Thus, I am deeply convinced that it is the duty of the medical profession to get more involved in the management of any health system because it is the system we work in and we need to define the rules in order to be able to offer the patients the best service possible in the most efficient manner. Therefore, I am strongly considering applying to an MBA in the near future. However, I am still negotiating with my wife as it is time consuming and reduces time for my family.
I am aware that the system I am coming from is truly different but I wanted to give you an European view as well.
James Hundley, MD
Founder and President of OrthopaedicLIST.com
In terms of seeking a MBA, I think discussing it reflects a shortcoming in our medical education. I know that the dental school at my university had business courses, but we in medical school had none.
My medical training including medical school, my internship, residency, and a year of basic research in the lab took 10 years. An additional year of study for a MBA never occurred to me. I know that there are “night courses” for MBA’s. Considering my practice load, I cannot imagine having had time to do that.
If one enters group practice, s/he will undoubtedly need an office manager with business training and hopefully a MBA. During my working years, I focused on my work and family and, even when president of my group, I left the details up to the practice manager. There just isn’t time to do it all.
Conclusion: If one wishes to be an administrator, I think a MBA would be useful. Otherwise, I think that the medical schools and/or residencies should offer some basic business courses to give us some understanding of the business of running a medical practice as well as something about investments including home ownership. Furthermore, I think the AAOS should continue to offer business courses. For most orthopaedic surgeons, extra titles (such as MBA and PhD) are superfluous. Our patients, referring physicians, and practice partners could care less.
Ira H. Kirschenbaum, MD
Chairman, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, BronxCare Health System
It really depends on your goals for getting an MBA. Commercialization of innovative idea is not one of them. Only if you wanted to pivot to a different career such as private equity, running a healthcare system, etc. would it come in handy. MBA’s have 2 advantages: networking with classmates and the education in things you are weak in – possibly how to read P & L statements for example. Both you can do with your more powerful degree- The MD.
I recommend looking at this amazing course that I am an alum of: Managing Healthcare Delivery. It is a 3 week on site course as part of Harvard Business School’s Executive Education program. It is one week on campus, then 4 months distance learning, then a week on campus, then another 4 months distance learning, the an last week on campus. It is divided into: Design, Finance, and finally Innovation. You read and study almost 60 HBS case studies. 80 students in the class- 50% International, 25-30% physicians. It costs about 25K for the entire experience.
When I finished the course I asked the professor who ran the course whether I should get an MBA now? He said “No. People get MBA’s to get the job you already have or to be in the position you already are. Save your time and money and just take more executive education to fill in your gaps.”
Ronald A. Navarro, M.D.
Regional Assistant Medical Director – Southern California Permanente Medical Group (SCPMG), Business Management for Retail Strategy – Target Clinics: Care Provided by Kaiser Permanente, Regional Coordinating Chief of Orthopedic Surgery – SCPMG, Kaiser Permanente, Walnut Center
Should an MD get an MBA?
Sitting in the Surgeon’s Lounge of my OR waiting for a hip fracture to be ready for my services, I ponder this question. Now in my 23rd year at the Southern California Permanente Medical Group (the physician side of southern California Kaiser Permanente [KP]) with 20 years as a partner, I can reflect on the vast array of leadership, emotional intelligence, diversity and many other courses that my partnership and the greater KP organization has afforded me. I feel that the specific Middle Management (1 week in residence), Advanced Management (1 week in residence) and ultimately 2 separate weeks in residence at the Executive Leadership Program of the Harvard Business School (HBS) have prepared me over time for the knowledge I require to be an effective senior physician clinical leader within my organization. This progressive teaching has paced and sequentially prepared me for bigger roles in my organization culminating in being an Inter-regional Chief of Orthopaedic Surgery for the Nation of KP as well as being in a regional Business Management role after years of other roles leading up to this point.
Do I need an MBA now? I don’t think so. I have reached just about the apex of the clinical leadership ladder I have sought in my professional journey. Would an MBA have sped me to the same or different goals more expediently? Maybe. I can tell you that you must know what your end goal is and maybe the MBA will help you to get there or alternatively it won’t have any influence. With all due respect (the nice way of saying I might offend some next), in my time at HBS, I felt that the professors had an amazing ability to distill the leadership experiences of others into bite size teaching points. Some of them were brilliant and yet others, my dearly departed father with zero formal education from Mexico, might pass off as “No duh” moments. My biggest complaint with the time (and it was the time of my life to be living in the dorms as a “student” with adult discernment and I did learn so much) was that the professors would occasionally relay the learnings as if they experienced the original conditions of the problem that needed solving themselves. They are not Chilean miners and were not NASA engineers. To me that was a bit weird/fake and I never want to pretend someone else’s experiences are mine because I interviewed them in a thorough way. Because of this an MBA is not in the future cards for me. I might just get an JD or be a hedge fund trader next, so ask that question and there might be a different answer!
Selene Parekh, MD, MBA
Co-Chief, Foot and Ankle Division, Duke University
The decision to get an MBA is a big one. The obvious hurdle is the tuition. If you are already in school, the addition of another graduate school degree tuition can be daunting. If you are in practice, this additional expense can come at a huge cost: loss of time from work, loss of time with family, less time to pursue your passions and hobbies, and the return of tests and projects, amongst others. The opportunity cost can be insurmountable for most. Doing some soul searching and understanding the motivation and reasons for pursuing an MBA are critical, as you may be able to achieve your educational goals with other venues.
I lacked the general knowledge of business and had no fundamentals on many of the topics and concentrations in business school. Since seven years old, I was inspired by the Jarvik 7 artificial heart, and focused all of my academic attention on science and medicine. I began to think about pursuing an MBA in the mid-1990’s, after my first year in medical school. At that time, many independent hospitals were merging to form larger healthcare systems. I realized that if I wanted to be a “quarterback” in medicine, I needed to equip myself with the business knowledge that I was so lacking.
My experience in business school was transformational, and was the second best thing I did for my career (choosing orthopaedics would be the first). Medical school is great at teaching medical students to learn voluminous amounts of information, regurgitating this information, and performing pattern recognition to identify pathologies and disease states. Over the last 10-15 years, there has even been more of an emphasis on hands-on learning and small group working units. Business school is quite the opposite. Most learning is project and group based. Oftentimes, you are asked to read a case or scenario and then think out of the box about solutions. The goal is to collaborate, manage and lead groups, and innovate: skill sets that are not developed in traditional medical school curriculums. It is a complement to medical school.
Personally, I learned about marketing, leadership, finances, teamwork, communication, time management, work-life balance, and so much more. My mindset changed. How I viewed and experienced the world changed. I now see points of frustration in my clinic, operating room, and even at home, as opportunities for innovation. The skill sets learned over a decade ago have allowed me to sit at the table with CEOs, venture capitalists, philanthropists. engineers, product developers and communicate effectively in their language. Perhaps that would have ultimately happened in my career, but with the MBA, it occured on an accelerated timeline.
I have spoken to a number of physicians through the years. If practice management or personal financial planning is the goal, I would suggest looking for other platforms to acquire the business knowledge. This can be obtained in many forms, from textbooks, webinars, online courses, and certificate programs. If you are interested in a change in career paths, entering administration, or altering your outlook, then an MBA may be worthwhile We have published two papers examining the way an MBA alters ones career:
- Orthopedic Master’s in Business Administration: A career path analysis. Mody KS, Acharya PP, Brougham K, Parekh SG. Orthop Rev (Pavia). 2019 Dec 5;11(4):8360.
- An MBA: the utility and effect on physicians’ careers. Parekh SG, Singh B. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2007 Feb;89(2):442-7.
In the end, it is a personal decision where you must weigh the return on your investment and the opportunity costs to yourself and your family.
Zeev N. Kain, MD, MBA
Chancellor’s Professor, Director of Center on Stress & Health; Director System Redesign, HPRI, University of California, Irvine, Professor (Adjunct), Child Study Center, Yale University, school of Medicine, New Haven, CT
I always start any process with the “why” question. Unless you have completed an MBA before or during medical school, you are likely looking at. An Executive. MBA program that you will complete while you. Are dealing with. all the other many professional and family obligations. Typically these 2-year program cost more than $100,000. So, you better have a good reason before you start the journey. If the reason for the MBA is to acquire knowledge since you want to develop a “startup”, there are more cost effective and focused ways to get the knowledge you need. In fact, to me ,the only reason to get an MBA is you plan to move up the administrative ladder in your group or your hospital and need the “credentials” for this position. Similar logic applies if you plan to join the pharma world or the consulting world. Otherwise, I would save my money and time and acquire focused knowledge.
Douglas L Cerynik, MD, MBA
Everything you need to know you can learn by doing it. Just as an MD degree does not teach you how to make a bone cut or how to suture, an MBA does not teach you to have business savvy or how to be a visionary. An MD degree provides a baseline understanding of the human body and its functions, and it opens the door for residency. An MBA is a starting point for understanding basic business principles. Just as the intricacies of a specialty are learned and practiced in residency and fellowship, the complexity of a particular business are learned and refined by undertaking them.
An MBA can be useful if you need:
- A primer in basic business (marketing, legal, financial, etc.)
- External credibility for your business, your invention, etc.
- Networking (connection to people, ideas, resources)
Can a physician create or lead a successful business without an MBA? Sure, it happens regularly. That business may or may not be clinically focused. It may not even be medically related. But, almost invariably, the common factor in business success is the involvement of good people. People you can trust. People who bring skillsets you do not have. People who bring viewpoints outside your own. If you are not privileged to already have these people in your life, they are the best thing that can be found in an MBA program.
Aristides Cruz, Jr., MD, MBA
University Orthopedics, Inc. in Providence, RI, Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University
Should I get an MBA as an MD?
As physicians, we are used to working in a complex environment. However, the complexity that medical school, residency, and fellowship training has formally prepared us for is the complexity of medicine and surgery. Healthcare in the 21st century has become much more than knowing the science of the human body. The science of healthcare delivery in the aggregate, has become equally important as delivering health to our individual patients. Just like an MD signifies training in the art and science of medicine, obtaining an MBA crystallizes the principles and practice of the business of medicine. Today’s intricate healthcare landscape requires physicians to be versed in finance, operations, strategy, and executive leadership skills to position themselves and their respective organizations to engage with often competing and disparate interests. Whether this means developing tactics to effectively negotiate with insurers, strategically positioning your practice to compete with others, or focusing limited resources to deliver cost-effective care, advanced training in management science can help formally teach these principles to those on the front lines of clinical care—the physician leader. Physician leaders can help guide their organizations through today’s complicated healthcare landscape while concurrently keeping their patients’ interests at heart.
Obtaining an MBA degree can not only open doors for aspiring physician executive leaders, it also equips them with the tools to effectively think about and manage the endlessly dynamic healthcare landscape.
Samuel Rosas, MD, PhD, MBA
Resident PGY-2 Physician Scientist Training Program, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Wake Forest School of Medicine
“Should I get an MBA?”
Why I decided to get a masters in business administration:
As a physician, getting an MBA was intriguing to me for 3 major reasons: 1) I did not know much about finance, accounting, bookkeeping and/or corporate financials. 2) I wanted to learn about the “other side” (a.k.a dark side to some) of medicine and 3) I was curious to learn about a variety of aspects related to costs that could help me understand cost effectiveness research and market trends within orthopedics and medicine.
These 3 reasons lead me to explore a variety of opportunities such as online classes, videos and surveying local programs. Luckily, for me, where I was doing my PhD, was one of the institutions with an enormous history and prestige in this topic. Therefore, I decided to apply, visit the campus and see what this experience could entail. Furthermore, I consulted with one of my closest mentors who herself got an MBA and is part of the leadership of our hospital and a variety of societies and mentorship programs around the country. Her advice was also encouraging and motivating further inspiring me to pursue this goal. To my surprise, the 2-years at Wake Forest flew by. Through lectures, projects, classes, and yes even homework, I learned a variety of skills that have greatly impacted my personal, professional and academic endeavors.
Thus, reflecting on whether one should or should not get an MBA, my answer would be: highly encouraged. Obviously, many factors are to be taken into account into making this decision, but to me, having done this was something that I have encouraged many to do. The opportunity to interact daily with people outside of the field of medicine, the learning that takes place, the growth in one’s network, the leadership and team management skills learned as well as the personal growth that I experienced during these years leads me to believe that this experience was most certainly worth it. In conclusion, learning a new set of skills is never a bad option and if the opportunity permits, a MBA is a great choice.Powered by Scholastica, the modern academic journal management system