An MBA Degree Can Be Useful for Healthcare Professionals

By Catherine Groux
Posted September 14, 2011 08:04 PM

Even doctors can benefit from earning an MBA degree.
Even doctors can benefit from earning an MBA degree.
Many students opt to earn a master of business administration (MBA) degree because the skills learned during this graduate program can be applied to many different fields. In fact, a recent Graduate Management Admission Council survey reports that most MBA degree holders said they highly value interdisciplinary skills.

According to the survey, about 84% of MBA program graduates said they value the interpersonal skills they gained during their courses, while approximately 83% said they gained generative thinking skills. Additionally, other students said their MBA courses provided them with knowledge of human behavior and society as well as media communications and delivery.

While these skills may benefit MBA degree holders who enter the business world after graduation, they can also assist individuals who enter a wide variety of other fields, including healthcare.

According to a recent article in The New York Times, more healthcare professionals are seeing the value of an MBA, and programs are changing to reflect this trend. Dr. Maria Y. Chandler, an associate clinical professor at the University of California, told the Times that in the late 1990s there were about five or six joint medical doctor (MD)/ MBA degree programs in the country. Today, this figure has expanded to 65, she said.

The number of schools that offer dual MD/MBA degree programs may soon be expanding, as Nebraska's Creighton University is considering launching one next summer.

Chandler said that there are probably about 500 students currently enrolled in these dual degree programs across the country. Each of the 65 programs are slightly different, with some offering the degrees in four years while others take longer to complete.

Currently, one of the schools that offers an MD/MBA program is Harvard University, according to its website. At Harvard, students can earn both credentials in about five years. On this schedule, individuals will study at Harvard Medical School for their first three years, then switch to Harvard Business School in their fourth year. During their final 12 months in the program, students will study at both schools.

Regardless of the path students follow to earn these credentials, many professionals believe it is becoming increasingly important for healthcare employees to gain business skills.

"All physicians need some kind of business training," Chandler told the Times. "For example, some physicians with large research grants don’t know how to manage the money."

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