Among college, medical school, residencies, and fellowships, physicians spend an average of 14 years in school before becoming practicing professionals. Even after all that education, though, some physicians and other highly trained health care workers choose to spend additional time and effort pursuing an MBA degree. Why would someone with an MD see value in earning an MBA in healthcare? Here are some of the benefits these ambitious professionals seek.
1. Business Acumen
The years spent in pursuit of a doctorate are focused on mastering the skills and knowledge required to practice medicine. Opening a private practice also requires business skills, and some physicians find themselves struggling in this area. Small and private practices often don’t have staff dedicated to marketing, operations, accounting, or other core functions that are integral to running a successful business.
An MBA focused on the health care industry gives medical practitioners the tools they need to succeed in a competitive professional environment. Physicians with an entrepreneurial streak may also see an MBA as a critical step in preparing to launch their own product or business.
2. Management Skills
While physicians in small or private practices may not have dedicated administrators on staff, they likely employ one or more nurses, receptionists, or technical support team members. Management skills are necessary for keeping even a small team running smoothly. As employers, physicians need to know how to recruit, hire, and retain the best employees, evaluate performance, and resolve professional conflicts. A graduate degree in business provides the foundation for a healthy, efficient, and productive team.
3. Technical Training
With each passing day, technology plays a larger and larger role in health care. Physicians in organizations of all sizes are being incentivized and even required to use electronic health records and other information technology (IT) systems in their practices. Familiarity with these systems and the regulations that dictate their use is a significant benefit in today’s technology-driven health care industry. A physician who understands the role health IT plays in modern medicine brings added value to any organization or practice he or she is a part of.
4. Opportunities in Large Health Care Organizations
While some physicians choose to work directly with patients, others pursue administrative, research, and other roles in large medical organizations. These jobs often require postgraduate business training in addition to a doctorate in medicine. An administrative leader in a hospital network, for example, must be able to identify and address operational inefficiencies that affect the organization’s bottom line. A physician interested in research needs to know how to secure public and private funding and engage in public relations to drive interest in his or her field of study.
The skills gained in an MBA program can also translate to improved patient relationships. Delivery of care is just one part of the patient experience. Patients are affected by every step in the process, from appointment setting to followup, and records management to billing. By taking their business education as seriously as their medical training, physicians put both themselves and their patients in the best possible position to succeed.
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