Monday, January 24, 2011

Some Insights on being an MD/MBA Graduate Part 2: Applying/Interviewing for Residency and Finishing Up

Author: Riley Alexander, MD, MBA

I wanted to use this article to discuss issues that face the final year (5th year usually, I think there are some where you still finish in 4) of MD/MBA students. Brittany made a great post on what the MBA offers medical students and what you can do with it while you're in school earlier so I won't touch on that much in this article.

The first thing I wanted to cover is how the MBA affected applying to residency. Being this is the time of year when interviews are winding down and match day is just about 2 months away, there is nothing on the mind more-so than "The Match." Entering this time of year always brought out the question among my MD/MBA peers: "Will I be looked at differently as an MD/MBA applicant?" In particular, everyone was more concerned if the deeply entrenched world of medical academia that dominates residencies would shun "the business person."

The consensus I got from my experience and my peers, after going through it was: Yes, you may be looked at a little differently, but not in a negative way. The MBA was always brought up in interviews and almost universally regarded as a positive by the program.

I mean we got our MBA to be a little different, right?

My experience was that almost all of your interviewers ended up spending more time talking about the MD/MBA than anything else during the interview. Usually interviews opened with the question Brittany brought up in her post, "Why did you decide to do the MBA?" As she stated, there are many reasons and this shouldn't be too hard of a question to answer for most of you. By the end of the interview season, you'll be a veteran at this question and can expand on it as per your interviewer's interest. You will be surprised about how many are intrigued by it. I heard very similar stories from most of my peers interviewing, but there may be some field disparity. Certain fields are just too academic and/or work way too much to concern themselves with anything an MBA may offer. Luckily for most of us obtaining an MD/MBA, we have self-selected ourselves into specialties that do not fall into this category.

As much of an interesting interview topic as the MBA was, for those of you yet to apply, I would still not count on the addition of the MBA to your CV to get you interviews at all the top programs in the country if your medical background/CV is not at the level of those also applying to the top-level programs. This is, in no way, meant to be discouraging, but you have to remember you will be doing a medical residency and your medical accolades tend to take precedence with residency directors.

As you wind down the last few months or year of your MD/MBA education, I think the best thing you can do is get involved in some practical way in something business related that uses your MBA. This business experience can even involve medicine, or not. Many schools may have opportunities already in place for you, so make sure it ask. It is challenging with USMLE exams and the long, tortuous process of the match to find the time, but even something small will give you a much better feel of the "outside world" than your classes. It will, at minimum, enhance your network to some degree. It's certainly something I wish I had done more of.

Lastly, enjoy your last year and try and relax a little bit (especially after a successful match!)....residency is pretty busy.

Good luck to all of you this year that are interviewing for residency spots!

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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