Wednesday, September 7, 2011

MDs as MBAs

Healing is an art, medicine in a profession, health care is a business.

John Prescott, MD, CEO, Association of American Medical Colleges

September 7, 2011 - I see by the New York Times that more doctors are getting their MBAs "Adjusting, More MDs add MBA" - 500 in all. This is not new news for those of us following the evolution of health care as a powerful economic force to be reckoned with. Health care is the fastest growing economic sector, is the biggest employer in many communities, and the single greatest expense for many businesses.

This should come as no surprise. Americans admire those with specialized knowledge in any field - be it law, business, medicine, finance, technology, computers, or economics. This may be why the number of MD-MBA programs have grwon form 5 to 65 in the last 10 years, and why Mitt Romney with joint degrees from Harvard in law and business, is a finalist in the Republican Presidential sweepstakes.

I do not bewail this trend. It is the conseqnece of our culture's belief in specialized knowledge. I sometimes wonder if this belief is overdone and whether a general liberal arts education, steeped in a general knowledge of the culture and the humanities, might do as well.

I know health care has become so big, it must be managed. Perhaps doctors who have mastered two fields of knowledge are better qualified to manage the business of health care than jack-of-all-trades politicians. But most doctors resist the MBA trend. You get the feeling that we suspect MDS with MBAs have passed over to The Other Side. This is not what most doctors signed up for. To them practice is almost a priestly function, between them and their patients.

If physicians had wanted to go into business they would have. If they had wanted to save Medicare's bacon, they would have gone into politics. But many of us do not think in these terms, which may be why in national poll of 111, 000 physicians (with 1611 responders), released yesterday by Jackson and Coker, only 15% agree the AMA, a supporter of Obamacare, spoke for them, while 77% disagreed with the AMA's position.

Tweet: More MDs are getting MBAs. But most doctors resist this trend. The regard medicine as an art and not a business.

No comments: