Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Why some medical students may hesitate to pursue an MBA

Over the weekend, when I was in Boston attending the Association of MD/MBA Programs 8th Annual Conference, I bumped into several medical students who were hesitant to pursue an MBA. They were afraid that the MBA could actually hurt their chances of getting into their desired residency. Have you ever heard that?

This was actually a very interesting discussion topic because some medical students who wish to pursue a clinical career may wonder how an MBA would help them be a better clinician. If you're considering a career in medical management or business, then an MBA clearly has its benefits. However, how will residency program directors and other faculty members view your MBA? Will they think that you're focused on pursuing an industry career? Will they think that you'll leave clinical medicine and get seduced by the "Dark Side" of medicine? Are such assumptions still prevalent among physician faculty members and program directors? Or, have attitudes shifted as more physicians have pursued MBAs over the years?

What I'm learning is that the MBA can be a tremendous asset when you're applying to residency, but it could also be a hindrance if you don't have a compelling explanation for the MBA. I know many physicians (MD/MBAs) who would strongly urge medical students to get their MBA after they graduate and gain some working experience. I also know others who would strongly encourage medical students to get the MBA before residency. At the end of the day, you have to know why you're pursuing an MBA and you have to have a solid explanation when the question comes up during your residency interviews.

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