For most physicians, simply embracing the benefits of cultivating business skills on your own will be a big career boost.
Beyond this, if you’re looking for practical knowledge to sharpen your business law skills, do better at marketing your practice or simply maximize your personal investments, tapping into local undergraduate night classes or distance learning might be all the academic structure you need.
But what if your future goals include advancing in hospital administration, setting public policy or launching a biotechnology start-up?
In those cases, acquiring the full MBA credential might be attractive—or even essential.
To earn it, stopping out on your career to attend a full-time, two-year MBA program is one way to go. This approach can be a good fit if your career aspirations point beyond the clinical setting (for example, if you’re interested in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, entrepreneurship or venture capital in the health care field).
Many M.D.s choose their graduate business program with their industrial objectives in mind. For example, prestigious programs located in biotechnology hubs will attract like-minded classmates and could make job-searching easier after graduation.
For physicians who don’t want to stop working while earning their MBA, or don’t intend to change employers, an evening-weekend program is an option—albeit a potentially grueling one for doctors with busy calendars. These programs typically take three or more years to complete, with curricula very similar to their full-time counterparts.
A third alternative, the executive MBA or EMBA, is tailored to the needs of more established working professionals. These programs usually combine distance learning with intense on-campus bursts of study, sometimes over four-day weekends or several one-week stints over the duration of the program.
Increasingly, universities are offering EMBA programs specifically tailored to medical professionals—a big advantage for physicians.
The curriculum of a physician-targeted EMBA program typically includes health care related content (incorporating, for example, case work that doctors can readily relate to).
What’s more, doctors often value the opportunity to study alongside medical peers—driven, highly accomplished professionals with similar gaps in their business knowledge and experience.