Anatomy or finance? Medical students now want business degrees

A growing number of doctors are trading in their stethoscopes for business degrees, with more than 60% of medical schools offering dual MD-MBA programs, according to a recent study. This trend demonstrates a shift towards combining clinical expertise with management skills and reveals the changing landscape of the healthcare industry

MEDİMAZİN – Jasen Gundersen’s journey from medical school to CEO of CardioOne reveals an important trend in the healthcare industry. A former rural primary care physician, Gundersen is part of a wave of doctors seeking advanced business training to manage the business side of the burgeoning health care industry.

Recent research reveals that more than 60% of medical schools now offer dual MD-MBA programs, and this number has more than doubled over the past two decades. The near-tripling of the number of dual degree graduates reflects the growing interest among doctors in combining clinical expertise with financial literacy and management skills.

Healthcare is now intertwined with big companies

The changing dynamics of the American health care system and its focus on maximizing profits have led physicians to pursue business degrees to become managers, especially as health technology start-ups and healthcare companies continue to grow.

Although they represent only 1% of the approximately 28,000 medical school graduates each year, those with both medical and business backgrounds are helping to transform healthcare. The trend extends beyond medical school to doctors like Gundersen returning for executive MBAs.

The fact that the healthcare industry, once dominated by medical professionals, is now intertwined with large corporations raises questions about whether these business-trained doctors will put patients or shareholders first.

“It’s important to use business knowledge to solve health problems on a larger scale.”

JB Silvers, a professor of management at Case Western Reserve University, notes that the healthcare industry is unique in that those who know the most about their companies are not always the ones who run them. This departure from the past stems from new career opportunities, as MBAs open doors to leadership roles and ownership stakes in successful medical technology companies.

Physicians, traditionally among the highest-paid workers in the United States, are now looking for alternative paths. Stanford MD-MBA graduate Rich Joseph exemplifies this by serving as the Chief Medical Officer of Restore Hyper Wellness.

Folawiyo Laditi, a recent Yale MD-MBA graduate, emphasizes the importance of using business knowledge to address systemic health problems at scale. Laditi aims to go beyond individual patient care and make changes that affect many patients at the same time.

Harvard University and the University of Tennessee are among the institutions supporting dual degree programs that emphasize the development of outstanding medical leaders skilled in both medicine and management.

Jasen Gundersen, who graduated from the program at the University of Tennessee, emphasizes the importance of speaking the doctors’ language. As CEO of CardioOne, he is focused on empowering cardiologists to prioritize patient care by relieving the workload of non-physicians.

As the healthcare industry continues to evolve, the intersection of medicine and business is becoming increasingly important, challenging traditional notions of the physician’s role. Even as experts like Gundersen find themselves advocating for more physicians without practicing medicine themselves, the need for physicians with a comprehensive understanding of both fields seems clear.

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