Why Doctors Are Getting MBAs

An interesting trend in graduate school admissions is that more doctors than ever are pursuing MBAs. It seems almost unfathomable that a doctor would pursue another degree after paying for and slogging through medical school. So why are more and more doctors earning MBAs?

A new survey of 24,216 doctors and health care professionals in 25 medical specialties conducted by Medscape shines a light on this trend, revealing that just 54 percent of physicians say they would choose medicine if they had a second opportunity to choose their career. According to the poll, doctors are dissatisfied because of declining pay and high levels of student loan debt. Additionally, sizable pay gaps exist between medical specialties, and female doctors are paid 40 percent less than males across all specialties.

A Prescription For Change

Part of the reason doctors are earning MBAs is because the health care system is so broken. Doctors face our healthcare system’s mounting problems every day. Costs are high, the population is aging, the Medicare system is financially challenged, and many Americans remain uninsured. For some doctors, the challenge and opportunity of helping to fix the system is reason enough to pursue an MBA.

It’s also important to note that doctors bring unique skills and insights to the puzzle of healthcare reform and healthcare management. Because they are on the front lines of patient care, they have expertise and experience to bring to the challenge of improving the delivery of patient care.

The Business of Healthcare

Other doctors are pursuing MBAs for more traditional reasons. Some are looking to start their own healthcare businesses, and need the know-how to think and act like an entrepreneur. They are also seeking the connections and networking opportunities that often go hand in hand with business school.

Some doctors simply need better money-management skills. For example, many doctors receive large research grants but have difficulty managing the money. MBA programs offer them valuable accounting and other coursework that is typically not part of a medical school program. Still others are interested in roles within healthcare companies that combine financial management with patient care.

All signs point to a continuation of this trend of doctors pursuing MBAs. As more and more doctors earn MBAs and continue their careers within the healthcare industry, we can only assume that their expertise in the areas of business and patient care will bring important solutions to the many problems facing the nation’s healthcare system.