Article | American Journal of Managed Care | June 2016

When Doctors Go to Business School: Career Choices of Physician-MBAs

by Damir Ljuboja, Brian W. Powers, Benjamin Robbins, Robert S. Huckman, Krishna Yeshwant and Sachin Jain

Abstract

There has been substantial growth in the number of physicians pursuing Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees over the past decade, but there is continuing debate over the utility of these programs and the career outcomes of their graduates. The authors analyzed the clinical and professional activities of a large cohort of physician-MBAs by gathering information on 206 physician graduates from the Harvard Business School MBA program who obtained their degrees between 1941 and 2014. Key outcome measures that were examined include medical specialty, current professional activity, and clinical practice. Chi square tests were used to assess the correlations in the data. Among the careers that were tracked (n = 195), there was significant heterogeneity in current primary employment. The most common sectors were clinical (27.7%), investment banking/finance (27.0%), hospital/provider administration (11.7%), biotech/device/pharmaceutical (10.9%), and entrepreneurship (9.5%). Overall, 84% of physician-MBAs entered residency; approximately half (49.3%) remained clinically active in some capacity and only one-fourth (27.7%) reported clinical medicine as their primary professional role. Among those who pursued residency training, the most common specialties were internal medicine (39.3%), emergency medicine (10.4%), orthopedic surgery (9.2%), and general surgery (8.6%). Physician-MBAs trained in internal medicine were significantly more likely to remain clinically active (63.8% vs 42.4%; P = .01). Clinical activity and primary employment in a clinical role decreased after degree conferment. After completing their education, a majority of physician-MBAs divert their primary professional focus away from clinical activity. These findings reveal new insights into the career outcomes of physician-MBAs.

Keywords: medical education; MD; MBA; Physicians; training; Executive Education; Training; Personal Development and Career; Health Care and Treatment; Health Industry; United States;

Citation:

Ljuboja, Damir, Brian W. Powers, Benjamin Robbins, Robert S. Huckman, Krishna Yeshwant, and Sachin Jain. "When Doctors Go to Business School: Career Choices of Physician-MBAs." American Journal of Managed Care 22, no. 6 (June 2016): e196–e198.