Traditionally medical doctors focused on studying medicine in their educational journeys, however this trend is changing. Nowadays many MDs are continuing their education beyond medical school and opting to earn MBA degrees, or taking dual-degree programs which encompass both medical and business learning.
There are many reasons why doctors are seeing MBA degrees as a valuable asset to their medical careers, here are a few reasons why a business degree can be an advantage:
• Understand government regulations
Health care is one of those fields that is plagued by bureaucracy. Not only are there many laws to be understood, but also business-related mandates, such as HIPAA to be complied with. Studying business can help provide doctors with knowledge that will be highly beneficial to their private practices and/or appointed positions in larger organizations.
• Gain knowledge of the business end of medicine
While healing, treating patients and research are primary objectives of medicine, it cannot be denied that health care is a business as well. Doctors who want to have a thorough understanding of how their own practices are run will need to have a foundation to start with and an MBA degree can help accomplish this. In this respect physicians can consider themselves entrepreneurs, because, in essence, they are entrepreneurs.
• Negotiation skills
Doctors work with insurance regulators and issuers and may require knowledge of negotiation in terms, fees and other related details. Additionally, for physicians that run their own practice, or head a department or facility, there will be dealings with vendors and suppliers. An advanced business degree can help polish negotiation skills to ensure business dealings are in order.
• Additional career opportunities
A medical degree is of high value, however when paired with an MBA can add many additional career opportunities. Management positions in various health care, pharmaceutical, and insurance companies often look to the expertise of medical doctors to serve in business capacities. Other potential career options might be in government positions as well.
• Manage money
Many physicians deal with insurance, payments and grant money as a part of their doing business in both their practices and their research. Managing money is an important skill to have and doctors who add MBA to their resume can better manage this aspect of their business.
Recently the New York Times did a feature story that focused on the increase of dual MD/MBA programs and noted the trend is growing. NYT reported Dr. Maria Y. Chandler, a pediatrician with an M.B.A. who is an associate clinical professor in the medical and business schools at the University of California, Irvine, said, “As recently as the late 1990s, there were only five or six joint M.D./M.B.A degree programs at the nation’s universities,” adding, “Now there are 65.”
Dr. Chandler also noted about the U.S.’s “troubled” health care system stating, “we are not running the business side very well. Part of the problem is we don’t have physicians sufficiently involved. They have a fuller insight about what is needed.”
Many physicians are seeing the importance of learning business, along with medicine, and the two make a good marriage.