Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The 4 main factors that I weighed as a physician considering an MBA program

I'm currently enrolled in an MBA program. Recently, the NY Times reported that more physicians are adding an MBA for various reasons. If you're one of those physicians strongly considering an MBA, here are some factors to consider:

1. Time. The biggest factor here is my stage in life. I'm married, I have young kids, and I am working full-time. I can't afford to enroll in a full-time program. For that matter, I also need to really weigh my ability to commit every-other-weekends for two straight years. That's the kind of schedule that's often required for traditional executive MBA programs. Plus, you'll need to take a week off for orientation and another week off for an international trip. These are some of the factors that made me decide that a traditional executive MBA format wasn't right for me.

2. Cost. I don't work for a large employer who is able to cover my tuition costs. Therefore, when I evaluated MBA programs in my area, cost was a significant consideration. An executive MBA at Wharton will cost over $160k. An executive MBA at Penn State or Villanova is over $90k. Then again, you can get an MBA for less than $10k at a number of different state schools if you're an in-state resident. Plus, you can get an online MBA from a school like U Mass Amherst for less than $30k.

3. Benefits. I love asking my classmates this question: what do you plan to do with your MBA? Some will candidly tell me that they're hoping it will help them find a new job when they get laid off because they feel that it's inevitable that they will someday lose their job. Others tell me that their managers strongly urged them to get an MBA to increase their ability for job promotions. I'm probably getting an MBA for reasons that are very different from most of the people in my program. I currently the president of a small company, so I'm not trying to climb any corporate ladders. For me, the benefits mainly revolved around having the degree, expanding my business network, enriching my perspectives around different types of companies, and filling my knowledge gaps around some of the fundamentals of business.

4. Location. I knew that I wanted to gain the business school experience through a face-to-face interaction with my classmates. I've experienced online classes, so I already knew that I did not want to enroll in an online MBA program. In my area, I'm very fortunate to be surrounded by a number of major universities that offer a variety of MBA programs. So, I visited most of the programs and sat through some classes so that I could observe and experience the program. There are many students who commute to take classes at an executive MBA program at a top-tier school. If you're willing to travel every other weekend

I ended up signing up for the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Executive MBA program at Saint Joseph's University. I explored a number of different schools in the area and I found that the SJU program yielded the greatest cost/benefit ratio for me. The SJU program is very flexible, is reasonably priced, and it's focused around the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry. My classmates are all professionals working in the healthcare or pharmaceutical industry and I'm really enjoying my business school experience so far.

What about you? What are the biggest factors for you? Maybe the school's reputation is your top factor. Maybe it's geography. An MBA is a huge commitment and it can have a significant impact on your career. For physicians, the MBA won't be the highest degree on their resume, so it doesn't have the same type of impact on one's career compared to those where the MBA is their highest degree.

About my Business School Blog:

I am currently a business school student in the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Executive MBA program at Saint Joseph's University Erivan K. Haub School of Business in Philadelphia, PA. The Nationally-ranked and AACSB-accredited Haub School of Business, centrally located in the mid-Atlantic pharmaceutical and healthcare corridor, is able to bring together industry experts and a world-class faculty for a unique industry-focused, immersive executive program.

You can read about my business school experience by reading all the blog posts tagged "Business School Blog."

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