More docs head back to school for their MBAs

For the first time, healthcare has more students in MIT's executive MBA program than any other industry, making up one in five members of the class of 2014.

The Boston Globe via Kaiser Health News reports that these students already have the roles of surgeons, oncologists and anesthesiologists, but they want to acquire an executive MBA as a way to improve the overall patient experience.

Sree Koka, M.D. told KHN the program helped him focus on personal relationships, which is sometimes equally as important as technical skills.

"I've come to realize that unless that relationship is good," said Koka, who is chairman of dental specialties at the Mayo Clinic, "almost nothing I do technically is going to work well. It's not just about the teeth but everything the teeth represent: patients' quality of life, social esteem, self-confidence, pain, comfort, and their smile."

More than 50 percent of medical schools now offer a joint M.D./MBA degree, which grew in popularity after the University of California at Irvine became one of the first schools to do so, KHN reports.

In 2011, a study in Social Science and Medicine found that the best hospitals are run by medical physicians, not managers. But doctors getting MBAs has grown in popularity since 2009. In  fact in 2011, FierceHealthcare previously reported that physicians more often seek business degress to supplement their training. 

Richard Baum, M.D., chief of interventional radiology at Brigham and Women's Hospital, said in the KHN article he wanted to study the "science of business" and not focus on healthcare while attaining an MBA so he could learn a new ways of thinking.

"You're not just sitting in a room full of doctors, but with manufacturers and shipbuilders," he told KHN about studying for the degree.

As reported in March, more emerging programs, such as the medical MBA offered by Kelley School of Business in Indianapolis, are taking the trend one step further by creating a curriculum specifically for physicians practicing in today's fast-evolving healthcare industry.

To learn more:
- read the KHN report in The Boston Globe