Thursday, June 23, 2011

Florida Medical School Launches 'Business of Medicine Boot Camp' for Students

This update is provided by the ACPE (American College of Physician Executives)

Courtney Bovee knew from an early age she couldn’t be a successful doctor without an understanding of business.

Unlike most of her fellow medical students at the University of South Florida, she opted for a business major as an undergraduate. Once at USF College of Medicine, she joined ACPE and lobbied the school to add more business courses.

“To be a great doctor, you need to understand how your practice operates, how your patients pay their bills, how do they afford their medications,” said Bovee, who recently graduated from USF College of Medicine. “Medical school is great for teaching what tests to order and which drugs to prescribe, but there’s been a huge gap in our medical education up to this point.”

USF heeded her call: In 2010, the university introduced an eight-week Business of Medicine Boot Camp, where medical students get a comprehensive look at the business skills needed to be a successful physician leader. Now in its second year, the program has already doubled in size.

The project was spearheaded by Bovee and Dr. William G. Marshall, MD, MBA, associate dean of the USF College of Medicine. As a heart surgeon who ran his own practice, Marshall knew first-hand how important it is for medical students to learn business skills.

The boot camp is an extension of a program already in place at USF, where students could pick scholarly concentrations. Marshall said the concentration in business just wasn’t thorough enough.

“Being a doctor in 2011 is so much more than just learning the microbiology and biochemistry and ob-gyn and cardiology. The system failed partly because we didn’t recognize that.”

“I needed more time,” he said. “These students had no knowledge of business. None.”

Marshall appealed to Stephen Klasko, MD, MBA, dean of the USF School of Medicine, who was an enthusiastic supporter.

“Being a doctor in 2011 is so much more than just learning the microbiology and biochemistry and ob-gyn and cardiology,” said Klasko, who earned his MBA at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. “The system failed partly because we didn’t recognize that.”

With Klasko’s assistance, Marshall located funding for the boot camp. He also enlisted the help of several faculty who had previously taught in the school’s physician MBA program.

They started with nine students, including Matt Tufts, who will graduate in 2013. Tufts said he had trouble at first wrapping his mind around the concepts.

“It’s another way of thinking,” said Tufts, who, along with several others from USF, presented a whitepaper on the Business of Medicine Boot Camp in Sweden. “I think that was the most challenging for me. We’re dealing with really hard stuff all the time but this was a totally new aspect of learning.”

As part of his capstone project for the boot camp, Bryan Thomas, class of 2013, helped prepare a business plan for USF’s BRIDGE Clinic, a student-run free clinic.

Thomas said he got more out of the program than he ever expected.

“We talk about how this boot camp teaches us how to value our money and to make things more efficient,” he said. “But it also taught us about leadership and what it means to run something and bring a group together and make things work.”

There will be more opportunities for collaboration when USF opens its highly-anticipated Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation in downtown Tampa, Marshall said.

This year’s boot camp boasts 18 participants, and Marshall’s expecting an even bigger turnout next year. He’s still working to try to raise the money necessary to keep the program afloat.

For Bovee, who is doing an internship at UCLA before performing her residency at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Va., it’s gratifying to see so many of her fellow students recognizing the importance of business and leadership so early in their medical careers.

“As leaders, it’s up to us to guide our profession,” Bovee said. “It’s rapidly changing. If we’re not at the table, somebody else is who doesn’t have the patients’ best interests in mind.”

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