At Schools like MIT, MDs Seeking MBAs on the Rise

Since the rise of joint MD/MBA programs in the late 1990s, the incidence of physicians seeking business training has steadily grown; but recent years have seen a dramatic increase in the number of licensed doctors pursuing MBAs at some business programs, reports the Boston Globe.

While MBA programs have long offered specializations or even separate degree programs in healthcare management, many doctors now choose to pursue their business degrees through executive MBA programs, given the hectic nature of their careers. The MIT Sloan School of Management’s Executive MBA program notes that one in every five members of the class of 2014 works in health care, accounting for more students than any other industry.

Several reasons might explain an uptick in practicing physicians enrolling in MBA programs. The Globe cites Dr. Sree Koka, an alumnus of the EMBA program at Sloan and chairman of dental specialties at Mayo Clinic, as saying that improving the patient experience was his reason for seeking an MBA. “It’s not just about the teeth,” explained Koka, “but everything the teeth represent: patients’ quality of life, social esteem, self-confidence, pain, comfort, and their smile.”

But other doctors point to the recent changes in health care law, in part due to the Affordable Care Act, as their motivation to understand the business side of health care. According to Stanford Hospital and Clinics, the ACA favors doctors who yield the best outcomes while keeping patient and insurer spending at a minimum. It seems more and more doctors are educating themselves on issues that used to be the purview of hospital administrators in order to achieve this dual mandate.

“Doctors can be changed by the system or be part of the change,” said Dr. Ivan Salgo, senior director of global cardiology at Philips Healthcare’s ultrasound unit in Andover, as quoted by the Globe. “Physicians with business training can help lead the change.”


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