Benefits of MD/MBA programs go both ways

While it may be too soon to determine whether the explosive growth in joint M.D./M.B.A. programs changed the dynamics of practicing medicine, individuals on both the clinical and administrative sides of healthcare report that such dual training improved the way they perform in their roles, according to an article from the Atlantic.

Notably, the article referenced a 2001 study that found M.D./M.B.A. graduates had a "higher tolerance for ambiguity." In the business world, this trait equips people to better work and lead through problems for which there is no one correct answer, according to researchers. For practicing physicians, it offers a broader perspective than offered through medical training alone, David Gellis, M.D., M.B.A., a primary care physician and management executive with Iora Health, told the publication. As the first person many patients see regarding a health problem, for example, "you have to think about what one piece of data you want instead of ordering every test," he said.

In addition, advocates of dual programs argue that medical degrees are of unique value to healthcare administrators. "Just like you wouldn't want a school superintendent to never have taught, you don't want the person leading your hospital to never have taken care of a patient," said Vinod Nambudiri, a fifth-year internal medicine and dermatology resident at Brigham and Women's Hospital and a graduate of Harvard's joint M.D./M.B.A. program. 

Maria Chandler, M.D., M.B.A., who is president of the Association of M.D./M.B.A. Programs, agreed. "What industry puts somebody with no business training in front of a huge budget? Nowhere but medicine, really." She added that businesses who hire M.D./M.B.A.s tell her that these graduates are more ethical businesspeople.

To learn more:
- read the article
- see the abstract