Monday, January 10, 2011

Some Insights on being an MD/MBA Graduate Part 1: Considering enrolling in your school's MD/MBA program?

Author: Riley Alexander, MD, MBA

As this is my first post on the site, I just want to extend a quick note of appreciation to Dr. Kim for giving me the opportunity to become a contributor. Being a fresh MD/MBA graduate (2010) and now that Dr. Kim is blogging about his experiences in business school after being removed from medical school for some time, I wanted to start off with a little series of some my thoughts of what doing an MD/MBA is and what it isn't.

I'm going to gear this post to first and second year medical students that are possibly considering applying or entering their schools combined program. Future posts will cover those in already in a program and those in residency.

Once you start the MD/MBA, the first thing most clinicians will ask you (especially the very academic ones) is, "Why are you getting your MBA?" Eventually this will get old, it should be the first question you ask yourself before committing to it and likely racking up another year of school debt. If you see yourself as a neurosurgeon or cardiothoracic surgeon who will be working 110 hour weeks until you are 60, attending some business seminars/meetings or conferences may be all you need to get a basic level of business knowledge. If you see yourself wanting to take an active role in the management and/or non-clinical aspects of healthcare (not necessarily working a non-clinical job), then the MBA will give you a much more comprehensive understanding of business knowledge and is something you should strongly consider.

A few major things you will likely learn/gain from doing the combined degree:

* Leadership
* A much greater sense of teamwork and collaboration
* A thorough understanding of business language and terminology
* A deep understanding of the fundamentals of all the major aspects of business
* A desire to be more pro-active and guide your own path

What you won't necessarily learn/gain:

* How to be a world-class investment banker immediately upon graduation
* Becoming a CPA-level accountant on the side
* It likely has little impact plus/minus on what kind of candidate you are for residency

As you may see, there's a bit of a trend here, you will gain a lot of higher-level skills in favor of technical capabilities. Programs will differ, but I assume, as with my program, that the majority of combined programs are slightly truncated and consider your focus/major in business school to be medicine as opposed to finance, accounting, etc. Because, for better or worse, being you went to medical school, you'll be looked at as the "medical expert," even if you decide to completely leave the field afterwards.

If you're a first year or recently accepted medical student and wondering if your program offers a combined program, you can find a listing here. If you're a second or third year and still deciding, hopefully may help a little bit, and if you've already chose to go for it...good luck and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

About the author:

Dr. Riley Alexander is a pathology resident at Indiana University School of Medicine, blog "addict" and avid follower of technology. His primary interests revolve around how technology, especially mobile, will create increased efficiency, enhanced physician education and better delivery of care in the medical field. Dr. Alexander is a graduate of Indiana University School of Medicine with a combined MD/MBA, in partnership with IU's Kelley School of Business. Due to this, he is also very interested in management, healthcare policy and non-clinical aspects of the medical field and enjoys exploring non-clinical opportunities for medical students, residents and physicians. He completed his undergraduate education at IU-Bloomington.

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