Physicians seeking leadership roles in hospitals and health care organizations need the ability to consider both the quality of care and financial outcomes of their programs when making decisions. One avenue to gain this skill set is to consider earning a physician executive MBA, or Master of Business Administration. These programs are specially designed for practicing physicians who wish to gain knowledge and skills in the business of health care. Some information on these programs, and career options upon completion, are presented.
Physician Executive MBA Programs
Physician executive MBA programs are specially designed for practicing physicians who are seeking to move into physician management positions. Therefore, to enter physician executive MBA programs, a medical degree, including a MD or DO, is required, and potential MBA students should typically have completed their medical residency. Post-residency clinical experience may also be required. Candidates should expect to submit undergraduate and medical school transcripts as well as recommendations. Interviews may be required. For the most part, programs do not require the GMAT.
These specially-designed MBA programs can be completed in 12 to 21 months of part-time study. As they are tailored to practicing physicians, many programs are offered in a hybrid format, where some courses are taken online. There are also short residencies on campus, and some programs require study abroad programs to examine comparative health care systems in addition to trips to engage with domestic policy-makers. Courses might include health care finance, capital budgeting in healthcare, and operations management. Individual and group executive coaching sessions may be a component of the educational program as well. In order to gain practical experience, programs may require the completion of a capstone project, such as a business plan or marketing proposal, which seeks to improve the outcomes for a medical organization with which the candidate is associated.
Physician Executive MBA Career Options
Graduates of physician executive MBA programs expect to work in high-level leadership positions within hospitals and health care organizations. Some examples of career options may be:
Chief Executive Officer
The chief executive officer is the lead decision-maker for an organization. He or she is responsible for strategic planning and business development of an organization. CEOs within health care organizations earned a median salary of $195,183, according to PayScale.com figures from November 2018.
Medical directors are responsible for leading clinicians and other medical staff in an effort to improve clinical care outcomes. They may develop, implement, and analyze policies and procedures to ensure the quality of care. Medical directors may also be involved with compliance and regulatory activities and typically work under the supervision of the chief medical officer. According to PayScale.com figures from May 2020, the median salary for a medical director is $218,429.
Chief Medical Officer
A chief medical officer is responsible for the overall supervision of doctors and other professional medical staff. They ensure that all physicians have the proper training to conduct their role. They work with high-level hospital administration to review budgeting and compliance documentation. The median salary for a chief medical officer is $297,290, per May 2020 figures from PayScale.com.
Chief Information Officer
Health care information technologies, or informatics, have become a growing department within many health care organizations, helping clinicians get access to a range of information to support patient care while protecting privacy. The chief information officer is responsible for setting the targets and objectives of a health care organization's information systems and then ensuring the necessary technology has been implemented to meet them. The median CIO salary is $161,274, according to PayScale.com for May 2020.
Some professionals who earn the physician executive MBA may wish to work in academic medicine. These professionals provide medical care while working closely with medical residents under their supervision. They can also engage in research activities and take on administrative roles. The median salary for postsecondary teachers in health specialties was $97,320 as of May 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
For doctors who wish to pursue an executive role within the health care industry, the physician executive MBA could be a great option for advancement. Candidates can continue their careers while developing strategic business skills to catapult their careers into executive-level positions.