Online Healthcare MBA Program

Online Healthcare MBA


Soft skills you can learn in the GW HCMBA

Soft and hard skills go hand in hand. The latter encompass proficiencies in specific types of knowledge — e.g., how to use Microsoft Excel, manage a social media platform or review website-related metrics — while the former refer to broader capabilities such as knowing how to encourage teamwork and make ethical decisions in challenging situations.

An MBA student performs coursework for a certificate.

The two skill sets are synergistic. For example, the abilities to put together and execute an easy-to-follow meeting agenda — a soft skill — are basically prerequisites for getting any value from particular business solutions like video conferencing software, which are meant to enhance cross-team collaboration . Even individuals who have mastered the hard skills of using such tools benefit from soft skills creating optimal contexts  in which to use them.

Why soft skills matter in an MBA curriculum

Students in Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs develop both types of skills to comprehensively prepare for careers in management and leadership. In 2005, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), which accredits business schools worldwide, pushed for a more prominent spot for soft skills in business school curricula. The AACSB highlighted a few of the most important such skills, including:

  • Self-awareness
  • Attitude
  • Integrity
  • Teambuilding

Why should today’s MBA students focus on developing soft skills, aside from their value in enhancing hard skills? For starters, employers are looking for candidates with expertise beyond the typical MBA curriculum core of finance and economics. A 2017 survey by the Financial Times found that the five most sought-after skills were all soft skills — the ability to work with a wide variety of people, understanding of the digital impact on business, time management, networking and complex problem-solving.

In the online healthcare MBA (HCMBA) program at the George Washington University (GW), students can acquire numerous soft skills applicable in both their research endeavors and careers. Let’s look at some of the healthcare courses that help develop these competencies.

A look at core HCMBA healthcare courses for soft skill development at GW

The HCMBA core includes 31.5 credits, collectively covering hard and soft skills. The softer topics are at the heart of the following classes:

Business ethics and public policy

This course examines how organizations respond to ethical, social, economic and political influences. It also explores the intersection of public health policy and market systems in the development of industry rules and regulations. Students will emerge with an understanding of how ethics in healthcare shape key organizational decisions.

Global perspectives

In this class, HCMBA candidates look at important differences between the domestic and international markets and their implications for management strategy. Today’s healthcare organizations, especially medical device manufacturers and pharmaceutical makers, often oversee complex multinational supply chains, making it essential to understand the unique environments of each country so that global healthcare resources can be best deployed.

Strategic management

This course enable students to critically analyze the organization for areas of opportunities and learn how to formulate and implement strategies and public health policies. They will also look at examples of how strategic management is controlled and evaluated at various types of organizations.

Organizations and human capital

Human capital is a term sometimes used to refer to the sum total of abilities that determine someone’s ultimate ability  to produce capital via labor. The organizations and human capital requirement for the HCMBA covers topics such as:

  • Motivation and compensation
  • Power and employee relations
  • Organizational culture and change
  • Staffing and performance management
  • Leadership and decision-making

MBA candidates discuss a class assignment.

Soft skill development in HCMBA elective courses

There are other avenues for soft skill development in the GW HCMBA degree, too. The GW School of Business, which offers the program core, has partnerships with the other professional schools in the institution, opening up a wide variety of opportunities for students beyond the main MBA curriculum.

While many of the healthcare-specific electives eligible for HCMBA credit hours are technical and more hard skill-oriented, some also explore softer concepts such as collaboration in support of clinical research. The five graduate certificates that HCMBA students can add to their degrees include some options on this front.

The Clinical and Translational Research certificate focuses on topics like team collaboration, grants and research proposals. Meanwhile, the Clinical Research Practice certificate includes background on how to best run clinical trials as a supplement to the hard skills it examines in areas like genomics and biostatistics. In Clinical Research Administration, HCMBA students learn the soft skills of how human subjects are recruited and placed in clinical trials.

Across all certificates and many of the healthcare-specific electives in the HCMBA, soft skills are interwoven with hard skills to give students a versatile set of abilities for taking on some of the biggest challenges in healthcare. HCMBA students include nurses, doctors and individuals from many other roles in the healthcare sector, and all of them benefit from the program’s balanced focus on hard and soft skills.

Getting started with the HCMBA: Next steps

Ultimately, becoming an HCMBA holder with well-developed soft skills means you can communicate, collaborate and empathize with others both inside and outside a healthcare organization. It’s not enough to have mastered the ins and outs of hard skills like business finance or to know specific case examples by heart — you also need the ability to work within a team and be self-aware.

Earning an HCMBA at GW can be your gateway to many rewarding opportunities. To apply, you will need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, relevant work experience  and all applications materials listed on the program details page. Visit the main program page to learn more about the program’s overall design and request our free brochure.

Recommended Readings:

Hard topics you can learn in the GW HCMBA
Exploring the 7 graduate certificates as part of the GW online Healthcare MBA


What employers want from MBA graduates — and what they don’t

MBA Soft Skills: A Hard Approach for a Softer Workplace