Sunday, January 9, 2011

Why MD/MBA? A Current Student Perspective

Author: Brittany Chan

Many people have asked me why I chose to do the MD/MBA program. Honestly, I applied to the program somewhat on a whim. I didn’t have aspirations of being a hospital CMO or starting up my own biotech company; I simply wanted to learn more about the business aspect of medicine. In the past century, healthcare has transformed into a major complex industry, but medical school fails to teach us thoroughly about this component. Fortunately, schools have responded to this problem, and there are now more than fifty MD/MBA programs in the United States.

How will an MD/MBA program benefit you? If you are considering a dual-degree, this may be a difficult question for you to answer. From a student perspective, here are four great reasons:

Learn skills that will make you a better physician.
Business emphasizes leadership and teamwork; almost all of my class projects have been in groups. The skills I have gained and sharpened from these experiences will no doubt carry over into the way I practice medicine. Working with administration, physicians, nurses and other health professionals to care for a patient is teamwork at its finest.

Be more marketable for residencies.
Taking on a second degree while in medical school shows initiative and looks extremely impressive on a CV. Many MD/MBA programs may also give you the opportunity to earn extra certifications; at Texas Tech, students obtain their Six Sigma Green Belt or Certified Quality Improvement Associate certifications from the American Society of Quality. We also became certified EHR consultants with Practice Fusion. Residency directors consider MD/MBA one of the most useful pairings of degrees. If nothing else, it will definitely make you stand out against an otherwise equally qualified candidate.

Build a more successful practice.
If you think you may want to go into private practice in the future, an MBA would be an immensely useful degree. Many highly intelligent individuals start their own practice and fail simply because they do not understand how to run a business. An MBA will provide you with a solid background in how to plan for and manage your future practice, market to potential patients, develop efficient processes, and more.

Expand your future career options.
With an MD and an MBA, you can choose to go entirely into clinical practice, do a mix of administrative and clinical work, or take on a completely non-clinical venture, such as health IT or consulting. No one knows what kinds of opportunities will present themselves in the future, and your interests may change as you develop as a professional. The dual degree provides you more flexibility, and again, marketability, when it comes time to make a career change. And you’ll already HAVE the degree – you won’t have to go back to school!

The only real disadvantage I have come across is, of course, adding a hefty workload to the already daunting demands of medical school. At times it can be difficult to balance my MBA assignments with my medical school coursework, especially when exams are looming! In my opinion, however, the life-long benefits that come with the MBA outweigh any stress it may cause today. I love the additional challenge of earning another degree on top of my MD. Though I still don’t have any specific plans for use of my MBA in the future, I am open to the prospect of both clinical and non-clinical careers.

If you would like to learn more about career opportunities and meet physician executives, the Association of MD/MBA Programs is holding its 9th Annual Conference in Lubbock, Texas at Texas Tech University from April 8 -10. I hope to see some of you there!

About the author:

Brittany Chan is a second-year medical student at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Lubbock, Texas.  She is also a candidate for an MBA in Health Organization Management from the Rawls College of Business at Texas Tech University.  Originally from the Houston area, she graduated summa cum laude with degrees in psychology and general studies from Texas Tech University in 2009.  In addition to blogging, Brittany enjoys reading, crafts, and spending time with family and friends.

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