By: Alen Voskanian
Now that I have reached the halfway point of Kelley’s Business of Medicine MBA program, I have been doing a lot of self-reflection and asking myself questions like “Is a MBA worth it for a MD?”
Since this is my first official blog on this site, I want to start by going over why I chose to pursue my MBA. I’ve always been interested in learning more about the management part of medicine, and over the past several years, my role as a physician has slowly progressed from just providing clinical care to actually overseeing other physicians who provide care. Some call this management; I like to think of it as leadership!
For a long time I felt like I was thrown into a leadership position without having the skills or background to be in that position. It was a lot of on-the-job training that involved searching online for answers to the management or business-type questions that I was facing. I remember Googling “How do I write up a physician?” What I finally realized is that there is a science to figuring out those questions, and that the answers could be found in a MBA program.
I knew I could do the medical part of my job really well because of the training I received in medical school and residency, but when it came time to actually manage the business side of medicine, I felt like I was just learning as I was going. That was OK, but because I am a perfectionist, I wanted to learn everything about the business!
One thing that started to concern me was seeing patients suffer for system-wide problems in healthcare due to decisions made by business people. Decisions in healthcare need to address both medical issues and business issues. To be a successful leader in medicine and healthcare, having medical knowledge alone is not enough; neither is having business knowledge by itself. I knew if I had the business knowledge it would be the perfect skill set to not only do what is best for the patient and provider, but also what is best for the business of medicine in general.
I really feel that healthcare providers, especially physicians, have a very unique advantage for being leaders in healthcare organizations. When I started searching for a MBA program, the options seemed overwhelming, but I knew what I was looking for in a program: a school with great faculty and a good reputation; a mix of online and in-person classes; a challenging program that would teach me everything that I would learn if I was in a full-time program.
Additionally, I wanted a MBA that was focused on education outside of the medical field. I wanted to learn from other industries and how they were successful in solving problems, and then apply those solutions to medicine. The challenge was sorting through myriad options and determining which ones offered the quality that I was seeking. Beyond the quality, though, I started to realize that I wanted to be in a classroom where I could interact with physician colleagues.
Physicians have a certain way of thinking; a certain way of processing things. The fact that the Kelley Business of Medicine MBA is a physician-only program was attractive to me for two reasons. First, I thought we could be very open in classroom discussions in terms of how industry changes were affecting us. And second, working with like-minded people would help us all in terms of being able to learn from other industries and translate it into our language.
In some of my previous experiences with continuing education, I had been in courses with a different mix of disciplines. Sometimes I felt like people from other disciplines were better at processing certain information and physicians were being left behind. And then at other times I felt like physicians had completely gotten a topic and were ready to move on while others were struggling. So I thought having a group that is all physicians would make the learning environment much more suitable for me.
After speaking to the Faculty Chair of the Kelley Business of MBA program, I realized that the faculty who were teaching in the program knew how to use cases from other industries and relate those problems back to the medical field. That ability to bring non-medical cases and examples and translate them into how it relates in the healthcare industry was ultimately a key factor in my decision. Beyond that, though, when I started looking at quality and rankings, Kelley was really on top.
I could not be happier with the faculty members, who have truly exceeded my expectations. They are accommodating, always available, and really have a passion for teaching and making sure each student understands the core concepts. They are also challenging the students who are willing to learn more. It’s an incredible balance. They make sure you understand all the topics that are needed, but if you want to learn more about the topic they will push you and give you the opportunity to go above and beyond what is needed for that class.
I wanted a program that had the best faculty, and I feel like I got that at Kelley.
This program has been very challenging. The discussions, teaching, and communication have been really geared toward a physician group. We’ve been able to challenge each other and learn from each other in a very productive way. So, at the halfway point, the question you are probably asking is “Would you do it again?” and the answer is ABSOLUTELY!