More doctors are pursuing the Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree on top of their medical qualifications. Should you? It can be a wise career move whether or not a doctor is interested in transitioning to the management side of healthcare. But do the pros outweight the cons?
Sound business practices are required for a successful medical practice today, and a physician with an MBA is in a position to understand and apply these. However, getting your MBA is one more thing a physician would need to add to their day. An MBA on top of staying current with science, technology, and fighting the never ending reimbursment challenges can be difficult. Here are 10 things doctors should consider before decided whether to get an MBA.
1. Doctors in Small Private Practices May Not Have a Business Manager
Large healthcare systems and hospitals have people who run the business side of things, but a doctor with an independent, small practice may not. Providing high-quality patient care while also running a business is a challenge, and an MBA can equip the independent physician to meet this challenge.
2. An MBA Can Be Valuable to the Physician Interested in Managing a Facility
Some physicians, particularly later in their career, may wish to make the transition to a managerial position in a hospital or other healthcare system. Having an MBA in addition to medical qualifications can make the difference in being able to make this transition when they're ready to.
3. Practices Today Must Be Run Like Businesses
Like it or not, today's medical practice must be run as a business, and a doctor with an MBA has the knowledge necessary to make smarter business decisions. For doctors who work in larger systems, an MBA empowers them with the vocabulary and understanding needed to work with those in management positions better.
4. Online and Weekend MBA Programs Are Available
Many MBA programs geared toward physicians understand how pressed for time most doctors are, and they tailor their MBA programs to make them as convenient as possible. Some programs offer weekend-only courses, while others offer online courses, so doctors can continue to practice while going to school.
5. Skills Learned in an MBA Program Can Be Used Toward Better Marketing
Today's successful medical practice must market itself, and the skills learned in an MBA program help doctors understand the most effective ways to do this. They can also help doctors learn how to attract more patients while at the same time running a practice more efficiently, and also providing excellent service.
6. Organizational Management Skills Can Improve Practice Efficiency
Proper organizational management can help medical practices overcome inefficiencies so that revenues increase, losses decrease, and patients are happy with the care they receive. MBA programs spend considerable time helping students learn how to manage complex systems and make better decisions.
7. Healthcare MBAs Are Starting to Focus on Technology and Policy Issues
With the Affordable Care Act and other health IT initiatives, the MBA for doctors has started to place emphasis on both technology and policy issues. Doctors without MBAs, for example, may be less prepared for the culture change that goes with switching from manual records to an electronic health records (EHR) system.
8. An MBA Gives Doctors Tools for Improving the Healthcare System
Some doctors are interested in healthcare policy and may eventually pursue a career in politics based on this interest. Having an MBA degree as well as an MD can help a physician understand the existing healthcare system better, while learning ways that the system may be improved.
9. Big Data Skills Can Apply in Both Business and Healthcare
Learning how to analyze "big data" is not only important for business but may become important in healthcare as well. Extracting meaning and insights from huge data sets isn't taught in medical school, but it is increasingly being taught in MBA programs. Big data may be applied to risk analysis and epidemiology, for example.
10. An MBA Can Instill Confidence to Tackle Bigger Challenges in Healthcare
For the physician discouraged by the many changes in the healthcare system, earning an MBA can instill the confidence necessary to see ways of organizing more effectively, delivering better care, and making a positive difference. Being able to communicate more effectively with third party vendors is another bonus of having an MBA.
The Business of Putting Technology to Work in Your Practice
There's no escaping the roles of technology and business in today's medical practice. Success and growth depend on having an outstanding clinical and administrative staff, and coordinating their efforts to maximize third party reimbursement and patient collections while keeping costs under control.