What Is a MD-MBA?

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With all the years of schooling required for a Medical Degree, it might seem surprising that some folks want to enroll in even more classes.

But interest in MD-MBA programs is on the rise, and more universities both in the United States and overseas are implementing programs to train physician scholars for the business world.

We checked in with a few experts about MD-MBA programs and what the pros and cons are for physicians interested in pursuing business careers.

Dr. Philippa Kennealy, a board-certified family physician and former private practitioner, runs a successful physician coaching business called the Entrepreneurial MD working with MDs to bring their business ideas to life.

We asked her where the MD-MBA can take physicians.

“To a senior leadership role in an organization,” says Dr. Kennealy, who is also a former hospital Medical Director and CEO with business and leadership experience, as well as an Internet start-up executive. “ To a start-up/entrepreneurial role, or into a financially related field such as venture capital or in a private equity firm, amongst many options.”

MD-MBA changes physicians' thinking

A recent New York Times article looking at the rise in MD-MBA programs talked about more and more physicians learning to think like entrepreneurs. This trend, while seeming to move away from traditional practice, still has patient care as its core. But it can be looked at in two ways:

  • A MD-MBA opens the door for physicians who want to act on a medical development and pursue a business start-up.
  • A MD-MBA allows physicians to take on the daunting task of improving the healthcare system – which could be on the smaller scale of practice management or on the grand scale of overhauling a hospital – by thinking like a businessperson.

Dr. Maria Young Chandler, who is the director of the Association of MD-MBA Programs (AMMP), which offers a complete list of MD-MBA programs around the country, is at the front line of the physician-business shift.

“The AMMP began due to the huge demand for MD/MBA programs by interested students,” explains Dr. Chandler, who has both a MD and MBA and is the MD/MBA Faculty Advisor and Associate Clinical Professor in Pediatrics at the University of California Irvine's College of Medicine, “and the necessity for the program directors to share best practices.”

"There is no doubt that medical school is demanding," says Omar Z. Maniya, who founded the MD MBA Association and is working on his MD-MBA through Georgetown University School of Medicine and McDonough School of Business. "And an MBA is certainly not for everyone. But for those students whose passions lie at the intersection of clinical medicine and business, the MD-MBA can be a great tool for them to achieve their aspirations.

"Furthermore, the intangible benefits of immersing yourself into a completely unfamiliar environment, where group projects and case studies are the norm, help mold students into better leaders. "

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