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MBA for Physicians: Is This Degree Actually Worth It?

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If you already have a medical degree and are thinking about getting a Master of Business Administration degree as well, you may not know the details of how you can earn both a medical degree and a business degree. 

By the time you’re finished reading, you’ll have a better idea of the actual definition of an MBA degree and an MD degree program, the length of MD/MBA programs, and whether you may want to pursue a physician MBA program. 

What is an MBA degree?

A Master of Business Administration (MBA) is a postgraduate degree that teaches you the tenets of business.  

Accredited MBA courses and business schools prepare you for senior management roles and teach you about all areas of business, including accounting, finance, marketing, and human resources.

You can earn an MBA after medical school but you can also choose to attend an MD/MBA degree program.  If you’re struggling to decide between an MBA vs. an MD degree, you may want to consider an MD/MBA joint degree in order to get a job in hospital administration or to boost your qualifications for finding a job after residency. You may also want to choose an MD/MBA program in order to help institute systemic changes in health care.

Related: The Best MD/MBA Programs

What is an MD/MBA degree program?

In an MD/MBA joint program, students receive both a medical degree and an MBA when they graduate. In other words, you don’t have to pursue an MBA after MD — one at a time. 

This is how it might work: You may enroll in the MD program full-time for the first three years and complete MBA coursework full-time during your fourth year. You may complete a business internship between your fourth and fifth year or complete clinical rotations during that summer. In your fifth year, you may choose to complete a semester in medical school or business school. However, each school has a different structure for its MD/MBA degree program.

How long are MD/MBA programs?

Most MD/MBA programs typically take five years to complete. For example, you may spend three years in medical school, a fourth year in business school, and a fifth year that makes up a combination of both.

However, there are variations in the typical five-year program. For example, at Tulane, medical students can complete both an MD and an MBA in just four years. The program requires 48 hours of courses from the Freeman School of Business. It requires 39 hours of required courses and nine hours of electives. Students take classes in June and July before and/or after their first year of medical school. Students can take additional core courses and electives during years one, two, and four. (Note that current Tulane medical students can decide on an MBA later and apply in the fall of year three to pursue a five-year MD/MBA program.)

Here’s an example of another program, at New York University: 

Students enroll in the School of Medicine full-time for three years before enrolling in business school at Stern to begin the MBA program. You will start taking business classes during the fourth year, which means you’ll take classes throughout the fall and spring semesters. You’ll return to medical school for the summer and fall of the fifth year with a final semester of MBA coursework during the spring. You would receive your medical degree in year five and an MBA during the final semester of the program. You can check out the MBA Academic Affairs website at NYU for more information.

It’s a good idea to investigate the programs that offer MD/MBA programs and meet with admission professionals at each university to make sure they fit your preferences and specific needs.

Is a physician’s MBA worth it?

Whether an MD MBA is worth it or not depends on your specific goals. The degree offers a gateway to two of the most lucrative industries in the world: healthcare and business. The combination of each degree may help you achieve very specific, targeted career opportunities. Despite the specificity of the degree, an MBA for doctors is a flexible degree that is adaptable to many different fields. 

You can find many different opportunities beyond simply the medical field or in business. As the medical field evolves and grows (as it does constantly!) hospital administrators need to have more detailed and advanced knowledge than just a medical degree. 

What can you do with an MD MBA? 

A doctor with an MBA can do a wide variety of things with their degree, such as open a private practice, go into health care and hospital administration or work as a health care company executive. If you think your skillset caters to both healthcare and business knowledge, you can also go into nonprofit management or healthcare industry consultation. 

As the healthcare industry continues to change by way of care packages and insurance policies for patients, many doctors need the business knowledge and skills that MBA graduates learn. The sky’s the limit when it comes to the type of career you can pursue over time with this degree.

Related: 6 Business Skills Every Private Practitioner Needs

Why consider an MD MBA Program

It doesn’t have to come down to an MD vs. MBA, two separate prestigious postgraduate degrees. You can enter a physician MBA program if you’ve always wanted to go into business and be a doctor. Many doctors can use these skills when opening their practices. 

On the other hand, if you want a way to distinguish yourself in the medical field, you may want to consider “Is an MD MBA program worth it for me?”

You may want to find a mentor who has pursued both degrees at the same time and ask questions about getting an MBA for physicians. Consider asking about program rigor, challenges and benefits, workload, and more. 

Looking for more information about med school? Look to LeverageRx for a wealth of information and guidance about becoming a physician, chiropractor, or dentist, along with other health specialties.