Westbrook Sherrill, Ph.D., MBA
Department of Public Health Sciences
Clemson, South Carolina USA
Background: An increasing number of medical schools are offering dual degree MD/MBA programs. Career choices and factors influencing students to enter these programs provide an indicator of the roles in which dual degree students will serve in health care as well as the future of dual degree programs.
Purpose: Using career choice theory as a conceptual framework, career goals and factors influencing decisions to enter dual degree programs were assessed among dual degree medical students.
Methods: Students enrolled at dual degree programs at six medical schools were surveyed and interviewed. A control group of traditional medical students was also surveyed.
Results: Factors influencing students to seek both medical and business training are varied but are often related to a desire for leadership opportunities, concerns about change in medicine and job security and personal career goals. Most students expect to combine clinical and administrative roles.
Conclusions: Students entering these programs do so for a variety of reasons and plan diverse careers. These findings can provide guidance for program development and recruitment for dual degree medical education programs
Med Educ Online [serial online] 2004;9:14. Available from http://www.med-ed-online.org.
As the development health care systems has combined clinical and administrative functions, the role of physician executives has increased as well as the demand for related training of physician leaders. In addition, the uncertainty of the market for physician services has influenced the development of various opportunities for physicians to obtain business training, including dual degree education programs. An increasing number of medical schools are offering dual degree MD/MBA programs in medical and business education. Established through cooperative agreements between medical and business schools, the programs offer a variety of arrangements through which medical students can obtain business and clinical training concurrently. In 1999, there were eight medical schools offering students the opportunity to obtain both the medical and the masters in business administration degrees. In 2004, the Association of American Medical Colleges listed 41 such programs.1
Students enrolled in dual degree programs make up an important group for study. Within the traditional medical school environment, they reshape personal ideologies and individual beliefs about physician roles and the fit between clinical and administrative functions. As early adopters of an innovation in medical education, the career choices of these students offer perspective on the direction of medical practice.