The first question physicians might ask is, Why? Why an MBA?

Dr. Philippa Kennealy, whose Entrepreneurial MD helps guide early physician entrepreneurs as well as provide insights from business pros, has looked at it from all sides. A former hospital Medical Director and CEO with business and leadership experience, Dr. Kennealy has Internet start-up experience as well as run her own private practice.

For those considering an MBA program, it’s worth trying for a top GMAT score or considering GMAT tutoring. She gives three reasons why an MBA might appeal to physicians:

  • To get a strong financial/business education if you want to be a significant player in a business (CFO, CEO, CMO), especially if it is health-related
  • The mental challenge and stimulation of it to revitalize yourself
  • Extraordinary networking opportunities if you know how to take advantage of them

But she also lists three reasons why MBA degrees might not:

  • The cost of the education (on top of those still-outstanding med school loans!): It can cost over $120,000
  • The likelihood of a low or negative return on investment, unless you are fortunate and talented enough to land a high-paying position in this down economy
  • If you don’t have strong analytic skills, or the time to commit to the rigorous learning

For Dr. Maria Young Chandler, director of the Association of MD-MBA Programs (AMMP), the reasons why MBA degrees are worth the investment are clear.

“The benefit of an MBA for a physician is a whole new set of tools to use in approaching problems in the healthcare system,” she says. “Whether it’s noticing flow problems through a hospital department or clinic or evaluating the return on investment of a new MRI machine, it completes the knowledge necessary for a clinician to make the best decision.

“Who better than the trusted physician to make the best decisions for patient care,” she continues, “especially if that physician understands the ‘bottom line.’ As much as we have not wanted to admit that medicine is a business, we must or it will fail financially.”

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