Is the MD/MBA combination the key to navigating healthcare today?

Physicians undergo rigorous training, from earning their medical degree through fellowship completion, to master clinical skills, but to remain successful in today's challenging environment physicians are beginning to look to an additional skill set: business leadership.

The combination of an MD and MBA degree has the potential to jumpstart careers, according to a report by The Atlantic. In particular, physicians who aim to serve as hospital administrators have an edge. A study found that hospitals led by physician CEOs outperformed those with non-medical leadership, according to the report. But, administration has traditionally favored MBAs as top tier leadership and placed MDs as middle management. The combination degree may propel physicians to the forefront of healthcare leadership.

The two degrees may even serve physicians seeking to remain independent. Reimbursement is decreasing and overhead is rising; it takes a strong business savvy to run a viable, profitable practice. While the pressure has created a shift towards hospital employment, gastroenterologists who remain independent earn average of $95,000 more each year than employed gastroenterologists, according to the Medscape Gastroenterologist Compensation Report 2014. The ability to run a successful business can pay off.

"I recommend all young physicians acquire an MBA so they are competent and comfortable running their own division. A background in creating budgets and monitoring expenses is an important opportunity for a physician amidst the changing financial landscape," said Richard Dwyer, MD, chief of gastroenterology at CHA Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles, in a recent Becker's ASC Review report.

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