The primary function of health care is to provide a level of care that can ultimately improve patient outcomes. It also functions as a business whose operational, financial, and legal elements must be efficient, sustainable, and resilient. Because of this, more physicians have been pursuing Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees to help them better understand the corporate side of the health care industry. Universities have responded to this by creating an MBA for doctors, a degree program that concentrates on the application of business principles to a health care setting.
A Doctor’s Role
The primary duties of a doctor involve diagnosing and treating injuries and illnesses. Doctors commonly examine patients and their medical histories, prescribe medications, and analyze diagnostic tests. They can also provide patient counseling regarding preventive health care, which includes recommending proactive measures relating to diet, hygiene, and other healthful strategies and methods. As for professional options, it’s common for a doctor to specialize in a certain field such as pediatrics, surgery, or obstetrics and gynecology.
Because of the health care industry’s pervasive economic and technological evolution, the role of doctors has expanded to incorporate attending to various business elements of their practice. These elements usually include learning how to collaborate with multiple physicians, developing a firm grasp of computer skills and electronic-driven data, and understanding the economics behind caring for patients with chronic diseases. Those striving to advance their careers to an executive level may also need to cultivate strong leadership skills to guide physicians, nurses, and staff through the health care industry’s constant changes.
Pursuing an MBA may enable doctors to more easily meet the business-focused demands of health care in their practice. Eventually, this could enable them to take on high-level positions in health care organizations where they can make a wider impact in the industry.
A Look at an MBA Curriculum with a Health Care Concentration
A typical MBA curriculum featuring a health care concentration provides both theoretical and hands-on training that allows students to gain a firm grasp of the principles of business management. The program typically blends general courses that are designed to explore concepts found in business with specific subjects in the health care industry.
Some of the general courses common in an MBA curriculum pertain to the development of fundamental leadership traits. For instance, a course on strategic leadership may teach students how to create a business growth strategy through the observation and analysis of corporate and industry data. Other courses are devoted to the fundamental aspects of effectively running a business, such as human resource management, executive-level accounting, and operational management.
MBA courses in a health care concentration may examine the inner workings of the U.S. health care delivery system. Topics may range from studying the organizational structure of health delivery to industry fluctuation caused by elements such as changing laws or new treatment options. Other courses may focus on the financial side of health care, embracing subjects such as analyzing financial statements, budgeting, and cost analysis. Additionally, courses may explore the various elements of health law, such as exploring the ways the legal system is connected to the health care industry.
What Can Be Gained Through an MBA Program
Earning an MBA may provide doctors with a deeper understanding of the business side of the health care industry. Along the way, it may also cultivate and fortify specific skills and competencies that are essential for long-term success in an advanced health care role.
For example, completing an MBA program can help a doctor develop strong leadership skills. This competency is essential in an ever-changing industry such as health care where the role of leaders includes effectively guiding others through evolving laws and policies.
Another key skill that may be developed through an MBA education — and one that correlates to strong leadership competencies — is the ability to build strong teams. Cohesion among physicians and staff is fundamental to the effectiveness of any health care facility and to patient care as a whole. Keeping everyone “on the same page” minimizes the type of ambiguity that could disrupt the patient care process.
Understanding data analytics is yet another skill that is essential in today’s health care industry. An MBA curriculum exposes students to this topic. Mastering data analytics may provide the knowledge that enables a doctor to create a more efficient patient care delivery system, which may be a vital component to enhancing the wellness of patients.
Additionally, an MBA program can provide doctors with a better knowledge of health law. This can help them make informed decisions to protect facilities and staff as they strive to heal patients. This knowledge may also equip doctors with the capacity to interpret new health care laws and regulations with greater accuracy.
In some cases, an MBA may empower doctors to become entrepreneurs, providing physicians with the freedom to establish and grow their own practices, treat patients on their own terms, and enable them to build stronger, more intuitive relationships with their patients.
Finally, attaining an MBA may help prepare a doctor to become a certified physician executive, or CPE. This credential serves as further validation of a doctor’s skills not only as a physician, but also as a leader who is prepared to guide a health care organization.
A Degree for 21st Century Health Care
Economics and technology are playing more prominent roles in the fast-moving evolution of health care, just as they are in business. Doctors who complete an MBA education are usually better prepared to not only recognize the impact of technological and economic advancements as they relate to health care, but also to more smoothly integrate these elements into comprehensive strategies that allow health care providers to thrive in an ever-changing industry.
Recognized by U.S. News & World Report as a “Best Online MBA” program, Ohio University’s online MBA degree program takes advantage of the latest in classroom technology to bring students an engaging and academically rigorous experience that can benefit them in their careers.
With concentrations in finance, health care, executive management, and business analytics, the program offers graduates the business background and team experience to be successful leaders of innovation and business endeavors.