A survey and interview process was used to provide an exploratory study of students enrolled in MD/MBA programs at six dual degree programs to assess motivation and influence in electing dual degree programs. Students from MD/MBA programs at Wake Forest University / Bowman Gray School of Medicine, Thomas Jefferson University and Widener University School of Business, University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Tufts Medical School / Brandeis were included in the study. Students were surveyed and interviewed. Survey response rates among students were maximized by repeated contact via telephone correspondence and email as well as the support of MD/MBA program directors. Two waves of the survey were distributed, and students were contacted by telephone and email regarding participation in the study. Completed surveys were obtained from 74 dual degree students of the total available population of 87 dual degree students (85 percent response rate).
In order to identify a comparison group to the dual degree students, the survey instrument was revised so that it could be administered to traditional medical students (MD only) at each institution site. Control group students were selected based on a set of “matched “ characteristics with the dual degree students. Traditional medical students generally matched the dual degree students in gender, age and year in medical school. 80 control group students returned surveys; response rate among this group was 70 percent.
The survey instrument was developed for this study, but included some questions in the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) annual Graduating Medical Student survey. Many of the questions related to career goals and background were modeled after those used in Howard Becker’s Interview of medical students in the 1960s.11. As a proxy for pilot testing of the instrument, the survey was pretested during development by a focus group of medical students who were interviewed concerning suggestions for revision and improvements of the instrument. The pretest did result in improvements in clarity of the instrument, particularly in regard to wording of questions. Data from the surveys were tabulated with the assistance of SPSS. Factor analysis was used to analyze data related to the reasons students elect MD/MBA programs.
The interview tool was developed to obtain descriptive information from dual degree students regarding their perceptions of the direction of medicine and their career interests as well as their reasons for electing to enter the dual degree program. Structured interviews were used to ask detailed questions regarding MD/MBA students’ backgrounds, career interests, and decisions regarding dual degree programs. Forty of the dual degree students were interviewed either in face-to-face interviews or via telephone, depending on geographic location of the programs. The forty students interviewed represented all of the programs included in the study. Interviews were analyzed using Ethnograph qualitative analysis software.