..... is the title of an article written by Wayne J. Guglielmo in Medical Economics that I came across this afternoon.
I am often asked this by physicians in conversation, and it has been one of the questions I have often posed to the successful physician entrepreneurs I have interviewed for my Conversations with Trailblazers Audio Series.
It turns out, according to the article, that the answer is "maybe...or maybe not".
As quoted in the article, an MBA offers certain benefits.
"An MBA degree can:
- Enhance your credibility in the business world. It can change people's perceptions of you, as several of the doctors we talked to said. With it, you're no longer considered "just a doctor"—someone who's probably superb at what he does but who may not know beans about the commercial world. You've been admitted to the club, so the calls you make are more likely to be returned, and your ideas taken seriously. In short, the added credential boosts your clout in the world beyond medicine.
- Introduce new subject areas and new ways of thinking. An MBA degree can also give you the knowledge, vocabulary, and perspective you need to succeed in business, whether that means running your own practice better or building a new business.
- Build teamworking skills. The business and medical school approach to education is very different. The MBA's team approach and its disciplined system for tackling projects have proved life changing. When students who've had business-school training come back into the medical world, they're much more accepting of working as part of a team," says Ken Veit of the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. "They know they can't simply dictate. They're eager to work with the nurses, techs, and administrators to make, say, an OR schedule work better."
- Renew your love of learning. Even if you have no practical goal in mind, getting an MBA can simply be a lot of fun—a way to meet new people, learn new things, and stimulate another part of your brain."
All but one of the physician entrepreneurs I have interviewed to date have started and grown businesses without an MBA. Reflecting on their decisions and experiences, they made the following remarks:
- An MBA can provide valuable theory, but it cannot put the fire in your belly that you need in order to cope and thrive as a business owner or product inventor.
- There has been nothing as valuable as hanging around with other entrepreneurs and successful business people.
- In order to open meaningful doors as an entrepreneur, unlike a physician healthcare administrator, it would have been necessary to get an MBA from the top 10 MBA schools - places like Harvard or Stanford or Wharton.
- Either mentoring or good partnering, or both, have been the biggest keys to building confidence and helping overcome lack of knowledge. In several cases, they took advantage of a "vicarious MBA" by partnering with trained business folks.
- None of the interviewees regretted not having gotten an MBA, even though some confess that it probably took longer to gain access to funding, and to build financial and marketing expertise.
Are you surprised?
I was, as many of the physicians I have interviewed run substantial consulting, investment banking, software development, and other companies. Others are "solopreneurs" with strong businesses, and incomes that exceed those of clinical practice. In some ways, these single self-employed doctors face greater challenges as they have had to master all the aspects of running and growing a business.
What emerges above all else from my conversations with physician entrepreneurs is their restlessness with the status quo and their impatient desire to fix what is broken, improve on what is mediocre or merely adequate, and invent what isn't yet available. In retrospect, stopping along the way to get an MBA would have caused a frustrating delay and consumed valuable dollars needed for channeling into start ups.
Any comments? I'd love to hear your thoughts, as I feel certain there are strong opinions about this decision!