“Healing is an art, medicine is a profession, health care is a business,” says Dr. John E. Prescott, chief academic officer at the Association of American Medical Colleges, a trade group representing over 150 medical colleges. There have been many articles written lately about the decline in applications to MBA programs, but an article in The New York Times (“Adjusting, More M.D.’s Add M.B.A.”) looks at an entirely different phenomenon—doctors pursuing MBAs!
With increased pressure coming from government regulators and insurance companies, more and more physicians are going back to school to get business degrees. Some are even saying America’s health system problems could be resolved if more doctors had a business background and were involved.
Although the MBA gives a doctor the opportunity to join Wall Street, it doesn’t come cheap. Anthony R. Hendrickson, dean of Creighton University’s College of Business, said total tuition for 4 years of medical school and 1 year of business studies will be $191,688. Duke University’s total cost of tuition for medical school and one and a half years of business studies is even higher—$235,244.
But the price has not stopped these programs from popping up throughout the country. In the 1990s only 5-6 MD/MBA programs existed in America. There are now 65.
As Dr. Lisa Beth Ferstenberg, a teacher of entrepreneurship at the National Science Foundation at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, says about medical graduates looking for research funding: “No one will fund you if they don’t understand what you just said.” An MBA can be just what a doctor needs to give him or her that extra edge.