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Should Physicians Consider an MBA?

Constant change in the modern healthcare industry is driving more and more physicians to pursue Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees. But why study business administration when the physician’s role is traditionally seen as focused largely on patient care? The answers to this question are many, including potential benefits to individual physicians, their patients and healthcare organizations at large.

Boise State University’s online MBA program with an Emphasis in Healthcare Leadership can be a good option for physicians interested in exploring the business aspects of their profession. The specialized MBA program focuses on the in-depth study of management methodologies and practices as applied to healthcare leadership. Developing this integrated understanding of business and healthcare administration can help physicians improve their practice and advance their careers and organizations in many ways.

Develop Leadership Skills

A physician’s medical education is extremely specialized, as is the standard study of business administration. Yet the responsibilities of the modern physician, especially physicians in leadership roles, often lie at the intersection of healthcare and business, as do the skills and knowledge that fulfilling those responsibilities demands.

Physicians need to manage all members of their team, including assistants, nurses and technicians. They also must collaborate with other healthcare providers — surgeons, mental health professionals, physical therapists or others who make up a patient’s healthcare team. Efficient care delivery requires the effective management of people and constant, efficient communication between all parties involved. These leadership skills are among those fostered through Boise State’s healthcare MBA coursework, both in general management studies and in specific applications to leadership in the healthcare organization environment.

First, Do No Harm

This classic concept, derived from the Hippocratic Oath, is at the heart of a physician’s work. But modernized versions of this oath expand upon it, focusing on bettering the patient’s health in a more holistic sense. This human-centric approach recognizes the interconnectedness of the many aspects of a person’s health, such as physical health, mental health and financial health.

The modern, effective physician works to “do no harm,” or better yet to improve, a patient’s health on all of these and other levels. An important part of this is communicating openly with patients about treatment options, cost/benefit analysis, insurance coverage, access to care and other such considerations. Physicians should also have access to a comprehensive network of other service providers and specialists with more expertise in certain areas, from mental health workers and physical therapists to financial advisors and social services providers.

Well-developed communication and collaboration skills are key to establishing such interconnectedness. Being able to address a patient’s health holistically requires a solid grasp of many business-centered healthcare topics, such as the complexities of current healthcare economics, individual finance and budgeting, healthcare regulations, and insurance plans and benefits. This is an important area in which an MBA program can help physicians improve patient care.

Develop Your Competitive Advantage and Explore Career Advancement and Mobility Opportunities

Administrative and executive positions in healthcare organizations require an advanced combination of leadership skills, business acumen and healthcare systems knowledge. Adding a healthcare MBA to a physician’s list of credentials can help demonstrate that a physician has developed these knowledge and skill sets and is highly qualified for leadership positions. This is supported by a systematic literature review which found that physician executives with an MBA have a significant competitive advantage in the medical field.

Another report found a positive correlation between the quality of a hospital and positioning a physician leader as the chief executive officer (CEO). As a comparison of relative income, a New York Times analysis found that the average compensation of hospital CEOs is more than twice the average compensation of general doctors.

Plus, physicians who decide to open their own practice are essentially starting and managing a business. This demands the same broad-reaching business administration know-how as running any independent business, from managing people to business planning. Aside from healthcare leadership positions in hospitals and other healthcare organizations, managing a private practice is perhaps the most direct application of the range of skills gained in a healthcare MBA program.

Clearly, the knowledge, skills and credentials imparted by a quality healthcare MBA program are applicable to many aspects of a physician’s work and potential career opportunities. Whether interested in improving direct patient care, pursuing leadership positions or starting a private practice, the integration of healthcare experience and advanced business education can help physicians work meet their professional goals.

Learn more about Boise State University’s online MBA program with an Emphasis in Healthcare Leadership.