An MBA for doctors

December 4, 2008 at 6:44 am (Uncategorized)

While medical school certainly teaches students a lot about treating disease, it falls far short when preparing us to enter the world of medical practice. I regularly hear statements from students, residents and even physicians such as, “I don’t need to know about billing because I have coders for it.” To which I say that is a very stupid mindset. If you don’t know how the money for your business is generated, then you are in no position to take home a substantial size of it.

All doctors could benefit from some business training, but the question is how much of it should they receive. Below, I present a list of MBA’s that are tailor-made specifically for physicians.* As far as I can tell, these universities do not require the GMAT for admission.

Auburn University — 21 months, requires five 4-day trips to Alabama, one week to Europe, and one week to Washington, DC. Total cost is $49,875.
University of Texas at Dallas — There are options for a Master of Science in Healthcare Management or a Healthcare Management Executive MBA. Both require 4-day trips to Dallas every other month. The MSHM takes 14 months to complete, while the MBA requires completion of general business courses in addition to the MSHM curriculum. The MSHM costs $29,700. The MBA costs $47,300.
University of Tennessee Knoxville — 12 months, requires 4 one-week trips to Knoxville and you must take part in online discussions every Saturday morning. Total cost is $59,000.
University of Massachusetts Amherst — The MBA is made available through a partnership with the American College of Physician Executives. No on-campus requirements. Tuition includes $600 per credit plus a $40 per semester registration fee. The program is 34 credits long, putting the total cost at greater than $20,400.
DeSales University — Other than the title Physicians MBA, I can’t find any information about the program, including on-campus requirements, costs, or even accreditation.

There are many universities touting health-care MBA’s such as George Washington University. However, anyone is welcome to pursue these degrees whether they are a physician or not. The list above is meant for people who already have doctorate degrees.

But again I ask the question, how much business training does a doctor really need? For example, is a course in global markets really necessary? Further, you can see from the list above that these programs can be quite expensive. Add in the time commitment and then I start to wonder what payoff is gained from having an MBA. Is business school truly necessary to gain business skills? What would a $1000 class in accounting teach me that I couldn’t learn from a book such as Accounting for Dummies?

One physician recently recommended the book The Physician’s Essential MBA: What Every Physician Leader Needs to Know by Michael Stahl and Peter Dean (ISBN: 0834212447). At $70, I think that it would be well worth the read.

*(The University of South Florida supposedly has a physician MBA, but I cannot find any information regarding this program.)



  1. Chris said,

  2. dragonfly said,

    It is an interesting thought. Thanks for the links.

  3. PookieMD said,

    As a practicing physician, I can NOT tell you enough that a physician MUST understand the business of medicine. I think it would be appropriate to have some sort of training in business during residency. This could be part of the clinical curriculum. Yes, I know, one more thing to learn. However, if you can’t keep the doors open, you can’t see patients.

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