Study shows changing roles of physicians with MBAs

June 26, 2014, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

According to a new study from researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, physician graduates from the MBA program in heath care management at Penn's Wharton School report that their dual training had a positive effect on their individual careers and professional lives. Study respondents reported such benefits as career acceleration, professional flexibility, and credibility in multidisciplinary domains. Aside from clinical practice, the MD was more often cited as providing professional credibility, whereas the 40 to 50 percent of respondents said the MBA conveyed leadership, management, and business skills. Respondents said that the combination of degrees helped to inform their overall business and medical perspectives, supply multidisciplinary experience, and improve communication between the medical and business worlds. The study, one of the first to assess MD/MBA graduates' perceptions of how their training affected their career, is published online this week in advance of publication in the September issue of Academic Medicine.

"Our findings may have significant implications for current and future physician-managers as the landscape of continues to change," says lead author, Mitesh S. Patel, MD, MBA, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar at Penn. "A study published in 2009 found that among 6,500 hospitals in the United States, only 235 were run by physicians. Moving forward, changing dynamics triggered by reform will likely require leaders to have a better balance between clinical care and business savvy. Graduates with MD and MBA training could potentially fill this growing need within the sector."

The Wharton School has the oldest program in of any leading business school in the nation. Based on a survey of graduates of that program who also hold an MD dating as far back as 1981, the study also found that MD/MBA holders increasingly assume leadership, management, and administrative positions as their careers advance and, as a result, are less involved in . Specifically, in 2010, 46.2 percent of respondents who graduated in the 2000s reported clinical practice as their primary work sector, a figure which was higher than 39.5 percent for those who graduated in the 1990s, and 19.2 percent for respondents who graduated in the 1980s.

Less than 20 percent of respondents whose role is primarily non-clinical reported that "hospital administration" or "care-provider organization" was their primary work sector, indicating that although these physicians pursue leadership roles, most are not directly related to managing health systems or medical practices. Instead, they reported largely working in a variety of sectors such as biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, business start-up, venture capital, investment banking, hedge funds, marketing, consulting, government, insurance, managed care, philanthropy, and the non-profit world.

"Physicians with training in management are now an essential part of the health care workforce," said David A. Asch, MD, MBA, senior author and professor of Medicine in the Perelman School of Medicine and professor of Health Care Management at Wharton. "In 2014, we know that advances in health and health care are as likely to come from changes in the organization, management, and financing of health care as they are from fundamental discoveries from the basic sciences. We need all kinds of contributions to advance national goals in health."

Over the past two decades, the number of training programs offering the option of both an MD and MBA degree has increased fivefold, representing nearly 40 percent of U.S. medical schools as of 2010. Penn's MBA program in heath care management includes core MBA curriculum courses such as accounting, finance, marketing, and strategy as well as a range of courses in health economics, , and policy. There is also an immersive field application project where students are paired with health care companies to address real-world problems.

Explore further: Will health care reform require new population health management strategies?

Related Stories

Will health care reform require new population health management strategies?

March 18, 2014
In response to the 2010 Affordable Care Act, employers may no long offer traditional employee health care benefits as they protect themselves from rising health care costs and seek to minimize their risk. How the shifting ...

First survey of ACOs reveals surprising level of physician leadership

June 2, 2014
In spite of early concerns that hospitals' economic strengths would lead them to dominate the formation of Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), a new study published in the June issue of Health Affairs reveals the central ...

Addressing the physician shortage: Recommendations for medical education reform

May 27, 2014
Since it started more than 30 years ago, funding the graduate medical education (GME) system has not evolved even as there has been a revolution in GME. The United States contributes almost $10 billion a year from Medicare ...

Can team-based care improve primary care delivery and patient outcomes?

April 22, 2013
In a team-based care approach, a diverse group of clinicians shares responsibility for a panel of patients and consults with each other regularly. This model of delivering primary care can improve patient care, practice workflows, ...

Despite rising health costs, few residency programs train doctors to practice cost-conscious care

December 16, 2013
Despite a national consensus among policy makers and educators to train residents to be more conscious of the cost of care, less than 15 percent of internal medicine residency programs have a formal curriculum addressing ...

Recommended for you

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

Can muesli help against arthritis?

January 15, 2018
It is well known that healthy eating increases a general sense of wellbeing. Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have now discovered that a fibre-rich diet can have a positive influence ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.