Looking at Physician Training Through a Wide(r) Angle Lens

Historically medical school curricula have, for the most part, revolved around the actual practice of medicine and not the business aspects that will also affect a physician’s work life and financial viability. Independent physicians, of course, need an understanding of how to make their practices sustainable successes, and even doctors in large group practices or institutional settings can benefit from the skills that create a pathway to organizational leadership. Many physicians are now returning to school to earn MBAs. This is becoming an increasingly-seen trend across the nation since MBA programs help further physician knowledge in key areas such as finance, accounting, and microeconomics.

Many medical schools are beginning to incorporate business concepts and training into their degree programs. For instance, the Mayo Clinic and Arizona State University (Alliance for Health Care) developed a dual MD/MBA program. This program is specifically structured to help train physicians in the intellectual disciplines and practices of medicine and management. For the future of healthcare, physicians should not only be seen as doctors who treat patients, “but also economists, administrators, and problem solvers working toward improving patient care.” This unique MD/MBA program is deeply rooted in helping individuals become future physician leaders. Likewise, the Cleveland Clinic and Western Reverse University have joined forces to create a healthcare master’s degree program in response to the evolving healthcare field and the higher volume of clinical doctors graduating from MBA programs. The curriculum includes instruction and practical experience in the general management fields of leadership, strategy and innovation.

As healthcare becomes increasingly integrated, medicine and business are moving toward a hand-in-hand relationship. The business side of healthcare offers new and innovative solutions to better manage and improve organizational operations. At the same time, these programs offer insights on how to better provide cost-efficient care to patients. As healthcare organizations recognize the need for business sense among clinicians of medicine, the number of specialized degree programs combining the two will grow. This evolution within the healthcare industry can lead to improvements in processes alongside quality of care.