USA Today Examines Trend of Physicians Going Graduate School for Business Degree
A USA Today Money section cover story today examines the trend of physicians returning to graduate school to get a masters degree in business administration. The number of joint MD/MBA programs at medical schools in America in the last five years has increased from 28 to 36, according to the American Medical Association. Further, many business schools, such as Tulane, Carnegie-Mellon and the University of California-Irvine, have begun offering "specialized" MBA or equivalent programs for physicians and health care workers. Since 1999, the number of physician-executives with MBAs has risen 23%; of 3,000 physicians surveyed by Cejka & Co., a health care recruiting firm, 16% had MBAs. The reasons doctors pursue MBAs varies. Many younger doctors cite pragmatism as their reason for returning to school, thinking the additional degree will provide them with a different career path should their medical careers not go as planned, USA Today reports. While a medical degree "once guaranteed ... above-average income and stability," that is not the case anymore. For older doctors, there are "three main reasons": they currently work as managers and "want to improve their skills"; they want to get a job in management; or they want to start their own business. Other doctors obtain an MBA because they hope to reform a health system they believe is "spiraling out of control."
Dr. Paul Franke, the chief of a physician program at a community hospital in Pennsylvania and an MBA candidate, said, "The level of cynicism doctors have is enormous. There's a negative feeling that legislators, trial lawyers, insurance carriers, they're all out to get us. I would like to take a leadership role and maybe make some changes." Glenn Melnick, a health policy researcher at Rand, a think tank, added, "Our health care system would be better off if the decisions on cost-effectiveness are made by doctors, rather than managed care companies or administrators" (Appleby, USA Today, 7/5). In a separate story, USA Today profiles Dr. Michael van Duren, who earned his MBA and got a job as a regional medical director at PacifiCare (Appleby, USA Today, 7/5).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.