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Should you do an MBA?

31 July 2015

Should you do an MBA?

An MBA may mean a “Master of Business Administration” but it stands for a whole lot more. It’s a tough, intensive and expensive undertaking. People may undertake an MBA for many different reasons. The most common path is the business or finance graduate looking to take the next step up the corporate ladder. This well-trodden road makes perfect sense for this calibre of graduate. You have a thorough grounding in the business world, and how it operates, and an MBA will give you the essential skills and knowledge that prove the vital ingredient to rising quickly in your career. Earning potential rises, you develop an excellent network of contacts, and an MBA will be applicable to most business situations.

While fees for general MBA courses in the UK can reach as high as £57,500[1], the increase in earning potential, alone, make it worthwhile. In 2012, for example, the London Business School published a report on MBA employment and found that the median base salary for its graduates going into consulting was £74,000, £70,000 in the corporate sector, and for financial sector jobs it was £65,000. Compare this to the average starting salary for graduates in the UK, which ranges between £26,000 to £29,000 (depending on who you listen to)[2]. Another study found that the median post-MBA pay raise at graduation of 41% of their pre-MBA pay, which rose by another 56% by the fifth year following the completion of the degree[3].

The benefits of an MBA are obviously huge, but it isn’t just individuals with a purely business-minded outlook who can benefit.

An MBA in…. Healthcare?

Doctors, dentists, medical professionals. It takes a very long time to become one. Years of hard work, commitment, skill and knowledge are required to make it. Medical school or dental school will teach you how to treat patients. A common problem that many medical professionals find as they develop more and more within their careers is that so much of the job involves the business side of things. How to run your practice, how to market to patients, how to manage finances  and how to lead a team are not necessarily on the table when it comes to what you learn on a medical degree. Without these key elements, however, a practice can do badly, or even fail, regardless of how good the practitioner is. And that’s where an MBA specifically designed for healthcare can be invaluable.

An NHS report into issues that healthcare managers commonly face include decision-making, organisational structure and managing a team[4]. These problems can hardly be laid at the individual’s feet, especially if they come from a clinical background. These problems are a matter of a lack of training and an MBA not only offers the essentials to combat these common issues, it provides a platform to combine clinical knowledge with a deep, comprehensive knowledge of how the business that drives healthcare operates, in order to find a positive synthesis of the two aspects.

The prodigious expertise required of a dental practitioner, for example, when a patient is in the chair with severe periodontitis is not in question. The dentist can treat the patient, can repair the teeth, can make the patient smile again. But that may not always been enough for a senior dentist to maintain a successful business. Dr Howard Forman, professor of management and public health at Yale University, points out that “It is a rare physician who actually has any business or economic background. Yet every day in their practice, they’re confronted with… decisions that are best informed by having some sort of fundamental understanding of those spheres.[5]

Healthcare today requires a deep understanding of how the human body works and how best to treat it. It also requires a lot more, however, according to Dr Forman. He adds, “It demands… leaders who are capable of managing complex problems and coming up with complex solutions that will improve delivery access and reduce costs within the healthcare sphere.[6]

If the complex world of healthcare is such that it requires some way to bridge the gap from the side of care to the side of business, then an MBA seems like a really useful method to complete that. It can equip you with the essential skills you need to make your practice the most effective, efficient and successful it can be. A problem that then arises for the dental professional would then be trying to find the time to complete a complex, intensive course all while trying to maintain the busy practice they are seeking to improve.

Part-time learning – The best of both worlds

Many find that time commitment is the single biggest challenge when choosing to pursue the route of an MBA. For the busy professional, a full-time MBA is completely out of the question. The only option would be part-time tuition and the increasing move to online education is a clear trend within the learning world that would allow anyone, anywhere to get that essential knowledge. Dr Anup Sabharwal, an MBA graduate agrees that some method needs to be found to prevent an MBA from becoming too much. He said: “The biggest challenges in pursuing an MBA are making the commitment to time for studying, and balancing this with a full-time job as well as possibly a family.[7]

Trying to maintain a work-life balance and complete an MBA sounds quite difficult but online learning allows the flexibility to complete tasks and watch lectures at your own pace. A key benefit of combining online learning with a part time course is the possibility of applying what you have learned almost instantly in a relevant, engaging setting: your own workplace. You can take the practical skills you learn and can apply them immediately. As Ronald Yeaple, writing in Forbes, points out “Part-timers have the opportunity to apply what they learn in their evening classes at work the next day. The work environment becomes like a lab for the coursework and provides context to what is being taught in class, making the courses more relevant[8].”

Professor Liz Kay, who is the course director for Healthcare Learning’s MBA in Healthcare, provided in collaboration with Plymouth University, takes a similar view. She said: “Students will be able to take a strategic business view about the best way to run a healthcare organisation and they’ll be learning how to do that by solving problems within their healthcare organisations while they’re on the programme. Improvements will be happening in that healthcare organisation both during the course, and after they graduate.” The cultivation of these skills through the actual application of them in real world settings provides an MBA student which the essentials they need to elevate their healthcare workplace, with entrepreneurial, strategic and project management skills and offers them that essential context to apply the theory in real-world situations at the same time.

Making your practice a better place

A more efficient, effective practice not only creates a better working environment and helps to boost earnings, it can help to improve patient care, also. Patients are the ones who ultimately benefit from a better practice and an MBA is an attractive proposition for a healthcare professional looking to take their practice to the next level. Marketing, financial intricacies, strategy and leadership are essentials to running a healthcare organisation, alongside patient care and clinical expertise. With these essential skills learned in an MBA programme, day-to-day business becomes more efficient, waiting times decrease and patients leave happier.

Susannnah Gawor, director of graduate business programmes in medicine at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, sums it up quite well, saying “Healthcare will truly grow if we make our physicians our leaders. [Our programme] empowers them to be the leaders in the industry.[9]

An MBA represents real value, to the patient and the professional alike, allowing you to develop a deeper, more expansive understanding of how best to deliver care and a tailored, dedicated part-time programme is the perfect way to provide you with the complex, challenging but, ultimately, invaluable knowledge to elevate your practice to something beyond the ordinary.

 

To find out more about Healthcare Learning’s blended MBA in Healthcare, the first of its kind in the UK, please click here.

 

 

[1] http://www.theguardian.com/education/2013/jan/22/mba-postgrad-success

[2] http://www.graduates.co.uk/graduate-starting-salaries-in-2013-14/

[3] http://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ860538

[4] http://www.som.cranfield.ac.uk/som/dinamic-content/media/HDTM%20Research%20Briefing%206.pdf

[5] http://profitable-practice.softwareadvice.com/should-you-get-a-healthcare-mba-0114/

[6] IBID

[7] IBID

[8] http://www.forbes.com/sites/ronaldyeaple/2012/06/04/does-it-pay-to-earn-a-part-time-mba/2/

[9] http://profitable-practice.softwareadvice.com/should-you-get-a-healthcare-mba-0114/

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