MBA and MD/PhD

Discussion in 'Physician Scientists' started by achamess, May 10, 2008.

  1. achamess

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    Hello all,
    More and more I am becoming interested in the entrepreneurial aspects of medicine and biotechnology. I worry, however, that if I do only the MD/PhD I will have the scientific and medical know-how to venture into industry, but will lack the understanding of business to be successful. I know that often, people team up with others who have expert knowledge in one field that the other lacks (e.g. an MD and an MBA). But, even so, is it not important for someone in medicine to have a fundamental understanding of business?

    So, my main question is, is it unheard of for one to pursue an MBA and an MD/PhD degree? And, if not, when would one do this? I thought of perhaps pursuing an MBA at night during the gap year or two I plan to take to do research before going to med school, but I have no clue whether this achievable or even wise.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
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    If all you want is a basic understanding of business concepts, you don't need an entire MBA. Just take one or two classes and that should be plenty. Some schools even offer medical economics, legal issues in medicine, and patent law courses.
     
  3. MedRower

    MedRower Member
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    How about an MD/PhD/JD/MBA? Is it not a matter of time before that happens, if it has not already?
     
  4. JHopRevisit

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    You might want to carefully consider why you would want three degrees; it seems more than likely that it is not the best way achieve your stated goal.

    That being said, if you're still interested, MIT has sub-concentrations within their degrees that make obtaining an MBA slightly easier, and obviously the Harvard/MIT program and the Sloan school are all excellent. The only MD/PhD/MBA's I've met have been from the Harvard/MIT program. However, their MD/PhD program has traditionally taken a very long time (though they're working on improving their graduation rate, its still too early to tell how well the changes have worked) and obtaining yet another degree will only add to the graduation time. It's probably not worth spending 12 years to get three degrees, no matter what your future goals are.
     
  5. achamess

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    Thank you all for your responses. Indeed, the ridiculousness of obtaining 3 degrees has occurred to me several times. The idea of being hyper-educated at the expense of entering the world certainly turns me off. Which is why I posed this questions. I am doubtful of whether any more education will actually lead to a discernible advantage in bringing about my aims and goals. Q's advice seems sound; it is unlikely that I will need the full training of an MBA to get the knowledge of business that I desire. Others have suggested online courses. I am not averse to this option. I learn well on my own, and the flexibility of such a course would go well with my medical and scientific pursuits. Plus, I am not concerned with the prestige of any particular degree, since my desire is to learn. I don't think adding MBA to MD/PhD would add any to the prestige factor (whatever that is worth) anyway.

    I've seen at the Stanford website that they have developed a 4 week business crash course for non-business PhD students. I suppose this is because of the strong entrepreneurial environment of the Palo Alto area. This is an attractive option. Do any of you know of any other places that are offering something like this? It sounds like the MIT-Harvard program is a little more rigorous than the 4-week summer crash course.
     
  6. linuxizer

    linuxizer MS0
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    I think Dartmouth (Tuck) has one, but it may be for undergrads.

    I also think you're over-emphasizing the amount of knowledge that is conveyed in a typical MBA program. Talk to anyone in the field, and they'll tell you that the advantage of an MBA (aside from credential, which you need none of after two terminal degrees!) is in the networking with classmates and the like. You can do that just fine even if you're not in the program, and it sounds like you'd be rushing through so fast anyway that you'd not get the traditional networking opportunities. Consider that combining the MD+MBA usually cuts out a year, but that might not work if the PhD has already sucked out the "spare time" in the MD.

    In short, you'll be better off doing internships at venture capital or pharma or whatever you want to wind up in than doing an MBA. The experience is more valuable than the classwork.

    Ari
     
  7. bioerice

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    Another option would be to do a 1 year MBA. Cornell has an AMBA program (advanced MBA) that takes one year and is for people with an advanced technical degree (masters, PhD, or MD). It's a great program and they've had MDs go through before, both before, during and after residency. I've given some thought to it, and honestly the best time for it IMO would be between the PhD and reentering med school. Most programs would frown on this, but considering you've already forgotten all things medical, it makes sense.
     
  8. physicsnerd42

    physicsnerd42 Member
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    At Dartmouth you can add an MBA on to med school by using your 4th year MD electives and adding an extra year on. So you could be out of here in 8-9 years as a MD/PhD/MBA (although I know no one who's ever done it). There are also electives you can take at the med school that are taught by Tuck faculty. I took the "mini MBA" for med students and found it to be very helpful.

    I had the same concerns as you have, so I just applied for and received a fellowship through the engineering school (where I'm doing my PhD) to be a part of their "innovation" PhD track. It basically tacks on a few Tuck classes (business law, entrepreneurship, finance and accounting) that you take during your PhD. It also allows you basically do a lab rotation at a start-up tech company in the area (of which there are quite a few, thanks to professors at Thayer, Tuck, and DMS). The fellowship makes your PI happy because you're suddenly funded by a fund set up by some Thayer alumni instead of your PI's grants ;)

    So, it's something worth looking into if you're interested.
     
  9. GWD

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    I was just at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Investigatators and there were quite a few physicians there with degrees beyond just an MD/PhD.

    It seems a little excessive to me, but apparently it is more common than I had thought.

    I myself have been thinking about getting an MPH lately. I think it would be beneficial to my career for the type of things I intend to do, so why not? After all, my tuition is already paid for, and I'm done with all my classes and am just working on my thesis at the moment. I would just take like 1 class a semester while I finish my thesis, then maybe stick around for an extra semester to wrap up the MPH when I'm done if I decide I want to finish it up.

    If you think an MBA would be useful to you, perhaps you could consider a similar approach.

    I do agree with some of the other posters though. As someone who already has two terminal degrees, completing a full, traditional MBA program would probably be more comestic than anything else.
     
  10. jjmack

    jjmack Senior Member
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    I'm thinking about the MPH as well. My school has program where they will pay for it and I feel the stronger training in epi and biostats will be helpful in genetics. I'm getting my PhD in human genetics. I think an MBA is different situation. It's a completely different skill set. My advice would be to try working in a business/consulting field and see if you want/need the MBA and then get it. Most people have considerable owrk experience before the MBA. Also a lot of "better" schcools won't accept you without experience.
     
  11. JHopRevisit

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    MBA's have a skill set...

    ...and MD-PhD's are just MD-PhD's? I think you guys have it backwards. ;)

    It's really diminishing returns at this point. There's a lot of things that would improve your skill set, for example many MD-PhDs interested in translational work would benefit from the knowledge classes in law or economics or public health would bring. The question is not whether the extra knowledge imparted by additional degrees would improve your career, but whether you could gain the same knowledge through experience while also actually being a productive, (comparatively) well-paid scientist at the same time.

    Just because you graduate doesn't mean your education will stop. And just because no one will put any fancy letters after your name doesn't mean your new knowledge is worthless. You'll pick up new knowledge and experience for the rest of your life, hopefully if anything all the years of education have taught you "how to learn." But once you have an MD/PhD you already have an impressive skill set and you can get out there and do good work while learning at the same time.

    Remember, there's already a legitimate debate on whether the formal education of a PhD on top of an MD is worth the extra effort (I think the answer is very field dependant), or if the MD alone prepares you enough to at least get started and then figure out the rest on your own (while getting PAID like the baller you are). If it's truly an extra semester, maybe its worth it, but anything more than that and I would really advise you to just learn things the way the rest of the world does it: experience.
     
  12. jjmack

    jjmack Senior Member
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    haha yes there is a skill set...lots of powerpoints and networking.

    What fields do you think a PhD is worth the extra time?

     
  13. JHopRevisit

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    I said field-dependant, but I guess I meant "scope" dependant, for lack of a better word. Essentially, I meant sciences basic enough or with sufficent sophistication in experimental design and technique to make the PhD worth it, but also ready for "prime time," ie translations are currently or imminenetly possible: neuroscience, oncology, and immunology are the best examples, I think, which explains why they're so popular, but you can also go slightly more basic (cell biology, biochemistry) or slightly more clinical (clinical oncology, imaging) and still be in very good shape.

    I know that's not a necessarily earth-shattering or paradigm-shifting way of looking at things, but there's a reason a lot of the fields I mentioned are so popular for MD-PhD's: they really work.
     
  14. Neuronix

    Neuronix Total nerd
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    Perhaps they're the only ones that work because they're the only ones that are allowed by MD/PhD programs...
     
  15. JHopRevisit

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    That's not true, is it? We have something like twenty affiliated programs in the school of medicine, public health, engineering, arts and sciences, and people just independantly filter into a few programs. Our PD has been all about "non-traditional" MD-PhDs (well, not that non-traditional, no anthropology here) but people still seem to flock to the core programs I mentioned.
     
  16. pressmom

    pressmom Third year!
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    UMass has an online MBA program. You can try out two classes before taking your GMAT and enrolling in the program. After enrolling in the program, you have four years to finish it. I'm currently a second-year vet student (doing research this summer, hence being in this forum), and taking my first class this summer. It's accredited by the New England accreditation board, so it's not a fly-by-night program. Anyway, just thought I'd throw that out there. I have no idea what it will be like, since my class doesn't start til June 2nd, but we'll see...
     
  17. achamess

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    Thanks all.

    Let us know how that works out for you pressmom. At the very least, this summer I am going to undertake my own course of reading in business. It's certainly not an MBA, but from what I hear, the principal benefit of going to B-school is to network and forge important relationships. And undoubtedly, the skilled faculty make understanding the material more accessible, but I can't help but think that an eager autodidact will be able to build some foundations in business knowledge through reading and the like.

    Anyone have experiences like this?
     
  18. DarkChild

    DarkChild Senior Member
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    think about dropping the phd. i'm not sure how much more traction you get with the addition of a phd over being an md/mba. the thing one has to be careful about is being in school for too long. the time that we're spending in an mdphd program is primetime to be moving and shaking in the private sector. and re mba programs - don't settle for a one year program and definitely don't settle for a lower tier program (i.e. anywhere lower than a top 10 program). mba programs are all about networking and a school's reputation and alumni network is what will take you places. the "skills" one gets from an mba are actually pretty meager. it's a very different ball game from md programs where we learn a hard skill or trade.
     
  19. sluox

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    ??? Care to elaborate?

    btw, as to the original poster, I think if you are really interested more in businesses aspects, joining a top consulting firm/investment bank and work for a few years is MUCH better than getting an MBA. Your education credential is pretty much equivalent to an MBA, and having an MBA is unnecessary.
     

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