Increasingly more Doctors are preparing for new or bigger management roles and seeking to improve their practices. These doctors see the executive MBA as a path toward improving the patient experience.
Business training for doctors has been growing steadily since the late 1990s when UC Irvine became one of the first medical schools to offer a joint MD/MBA program as well as a healthcare-specific executive MBA.
Dr. Richard Baum, chief of interventional radiology at Brigham and Women's Hospital, said he was eager to study "the science of business" and not get a healthcare-specific executive MBA He wanted to learn bread-and-butter stuff, like how to pay for a hospital with bonds and government subsidies. But he also wanted to learn new ways of thinking from outside healthcare.
When studying for the degree, he said, "You're not just sitting in a room full of doctors, but with manufacturers and shipbuilders."
That is true of an increasing number of physicians, said Jonathan Lehrich, director of MIT Sloan's executive program. "Many physicians working in medical centers," Lehrich said, "feel like prisoners of the hospital administration. They're tired of being told, 'Well, you're the physician. You just go off and practice and we'll make all the decisions.' "
Dr. Suma Thomas is a cardiologist who attended MIT while practicing at the Lahey Hospital and Medical Center in Burlington. When working with associations dedicated to improving patient care, she said she realized that "doctors don't have the tools to improve our healthcare system."
She took finance courses that taught her to read a balance sheet as well as classes in leadership and communications. In her new position as vice chairman of strategy and operations for the Heart and Vascular Institute at Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Suma wants to use her new training "to help make the quality of healthcare best everywhere in the nation."
The doctors who have earned their executive MBA through MIT are putting their new skills to work in a variety of ways.
Dr. Koka, focused on "soft science" courses such as strategic management and innovation and entrepreneurship to gain insights that he used while leading the staff in a new clinic for complex cases at Mayo.
For Dr. Ivan Salgo, senior director of Global Cardiology at Philips Ultrasound in Andover, the draw was learning how to analyze "big data," the effort to extract meaning from massive sets of data.
Dr. Salgo, a cardiothoracic anesthesiologist in the medical device industry for the past 10 years, saw a changed healthcare system. It's no longer enough to create a useful device, he said. Medical device companies, insurers, and patients now demand results. "So now it's not about getting paid for the antibiotic for your cold," he said, "but for curing your cold."