Sunday, April 11, 2010

MD/MBA Survey Update

Highlights from the Association of MD/MBA Programs 8th Annual Conference.

This morning, Winston Sherrill, PhD, MBA, MHA (Associate Professor, Public Health Sciences, Clemson University), presented some data from an original survey in 1999 and a follow-up survey conducted in 2009 where they compared MD/MBA students against MD students. The follow-up group was small (n=22-23), but it was still interesting to hear about the qualitative data that was collected.

The Benefits of the MD/MBA Degree, a Ten-Year Follow-Up Study (an update)

The original study began in 1999 and there were only 6 schools that offered a dual-degree MD/MBA program. The survey evaluated perceptions, career intentions, and career planning decisions. Plus, they studied some psychological measures (such as ambiguity tolerance).

6 schools in 1999 that were offering a joint MD/MBA degree:
  • Tufts (was the largest group)
  • Wake Forest
  • Jefferson
  • Pritzker
  • U Illinois
  • U Penn
In 1999, the most important factors that set MD/MBA students apart from MD students:
  • MD/MBA did not plan to pursue board certification
  • MD/MBA had higher income expectations
  • MD/MBA had a higher ambiguity tolerance
Since 1999, here's some follow-up data collected in 2009:
  • Overall, the majority are glad that they pursued an MD/MBA
  • Majority (62%) reported that the MD/MBA changed their role in the health care system. 
  • MD/MBA graduates are more involved in medical management
  • 83% in the MD/MBA follow-up groups were board certified
Work distribution of MD/MBA graduates:
  • Most responses indicate that these graduates are spending over 50% of their time in patient care
  • Over half are spending more than 10 hours a week in a non-clinical setting
Some case stories of physicians who got an MD/MBA 10 years ago:

Dr. A
Works with a biotech/drug development company, investing/management, and consulting. Did not pursue residency.

Dr. B
A diagnostic radiologist in clinical practice. Has administrative responsibilities as a clinical unit leader and he oversees other radiologists in practice.

Dr. C
Private practice doing orthopedic hand surgery. Feels that the MBA was of little benefit.

Dr. D
Owns a solo weight loss practice. She also spends 20 hrs/week as a part-time physician adviser (review Medicare compliance).

Dr. E
Emergency orthopedic trauma, large group practice leader, negotiates contracts.

Dr. F
Dermatologist, managing partner role within the practice. 

Dr. G
Exectuve VP at a global company that sells medical software. No board certification.

Dr. H
Venture capitalist. Initial survey during medical school indicated that this person was interested in primary care.

Usefulness of training
  • 4 of 22 report limited usefulness
  • 13 of 22 find MBA very useful or essential
  • 80% feel they have mastered the administrative role of being a physician
Importance of management skills:
  • team work and presentation skills (consistently ranked as the #1 key management skill)
  • budgeting/finance and leadership skills
  • others:
    • Marketing
    • Negotiations
    • Information technology
    • Operation management
    • Quality improvement
Confidence in administrative skills:
  • MD/MBA were much more confident compared to MD student
Ambiguity tolerance
  • Traditional MDs have a very low ambiguity tolerance. However, MD/MBA students have a significantly higher ambiguity tolerance. 
  • Given that health care is full of uncertainty, physicians who have a higher level of ambiguity tolerance may be more effective leaders. 
Salary (only 16 reported salary)
  • Mean was $325k
  • two reported $100 to 150k
  • 4 reported over $600k
  • How about non-physicians who pursue MBAs? Do they feel like the MBA added value?
  • How about time in clinical vs. administrative based on specialty?
  • Is it a disadvantage to apply for residency if one has an MD/MBA? Is there a stigma associated with having a dual degree?
  • Trends when you compare different schools that offer MD/MBA joint degrees? 
  • Every residency has an inefficiency program. Every MD/MBA student can probably find an efficiency project and become a more competitive candidate for residency. 

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