Can physicians benefit from getting an MBA?

All around the world, physicians are enrolled in master’s degree-level programs to improve their management and business skills. Overall, there are over 2,000 physicians that participate in these programs, and the number keeps growing every year. In addition, a number of medical students are also pursuing an MD/MBA degree at the same time to gain a competitive edge. If physicians want to become more business-savvy and take on leadership roles, getting an MBA will help them.

How can MD/MBA programs help Physicians?

Business programs tailored for physicians have been around since the 1990s, and they are driven by the trends such as health plan mergers, reduced reimbursement, and many others. All of these issues have made business skills much more essential for physicians to learn. Tufts University School of Medicine was the first medical school to introduce the combined MD/MBA program, and now there are currently 50 medical schools in the U.S. that have this.

Physicians become exposed to a different world in business schools. Business schools have a mission to produce physicians that are both skilled in management and medicine. Most programs focus on teaching basic strategy, marketing, finance, and there are also a variety of industries that are discussed. The most popular healthcare industries include pharmaceutical, medical device, consumer companies, and other issues.

Physicians understand their patients and their needs, so they bring a unique perspective to business schools. Most of them want to improve their effectiveness and efficiency in their business, and the skills they learn in the MBA program can help them do that. Physicians can also use an MBA to compensate for a lack of work experience if they are fresh out of medical school, and older physicians can use an MBA to show that they are serious for a career transition.

The most common reason physicians entered MBA programs was because they wanted to learn the business aspects of the health care system. With an MBA, physicians can make better business decisions, and they have more options for other careers.

MBA Alternatives

There are also MBA alternatives that physicians can receive. Seminars that are run by various medical associations might be a better fit. In addition, management programs are available at community colleges, and there are other business certificates that are offered by some universities. If the physicians only objective is to run their practice, these alternatives are better, and they are less expensive than an MBA program.

A typical MD/MBA program can cost upwards to $59,000 a year, and they require 20 hours of more of course work per week. Alternatively, some seminars can be less than $100, and certificates can be about $7,500.

Even if a physician receives an MBA, they should still have a practice manager or someone to help with their day-to-day operations. It is critical for physicians to understand the difference between a governing a practice and managing a practice.

Further Reading:
1. Freudenheim, Milt. (2011, September 5). Adjusting, More M.D.’s Add M.B.A. New York Times. Retrieved June 5, 2013, from