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Kelley’s Physician-Only MBA For Busy Doctors

Business of Medicine Physician MBA students attend monthly lectures on campus. Courtesy photo

‘I WOULD BE ON A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD’

Drillings says the choice between a physician-only MBA program and a regular MBA or eMBA program was easy. He heard about the Indiana Kelley program at an orthopedic meeting a few years ago, and “when I saw the courses and the syllabus, I thought it had everything I could possibly want,” he says. “And the fact that it was physician-only meant I would be on a level playing field with everyone else. If I had gone to an executive MBA program — and I know some people who did — I would be in classes with people who worked in finance or accounting. I felt that my non-business background would put me at a disadvantage.”

Many physicians come to similar conclusions, Cox says. “I think there’s a distinctiveness to healthcare,” he says. “We had a couple students who enrolled in conventional executive MBAs, and ended up coming to our program. I think they felt like maybe 40% of what they were being exposed to was relevant to healthcare, whereas in our program it’s much higher than that.”

Healthcare, Cox says, is unique among business industries. For example, when you sell expensive cars, most people are comfortable with the idea that not everyone can afford them. They’re a luxury product. But with certain kinds of surgery, which might cost just as much, there’s a balancing act between fiscal responsibility and ethical questions.

“It’s an MBA program, but we talk about healthcare issues, and it’s important to have a sufficient number of colleagues who understand it,” Cox says.

A WEEK-LONG ELECTIVE COURSE ABROAD

Not all of the Indiana Kelley program takes place online or in Indianapolis. Students have the option to sign up for a Global Healthcare Experience elective that takes them abroad for one week to study healthcare models in other countries. Both first- and second-year students can go, and second-year students get to choose where.

“We’ll be the third graduating class of the program. The first year, the group went to India, and the second group went to Germany and Austria,” Drillings says. “So early in the year, we discussed our options with the global healthcare professor, and our group decided on Cuba.”

They chose Cuba for two reasons. The first was that Americans weren’t allowed to go there for decades, and still can’t visit as tourists, but can for educational activities. And the second reason: Cuba approaches healthcare differently from the United States. Drillings says Cubans see healthcare as a right.

“We went there for a week, and we met with physicians and with the administration from two medical schools, and with the equivalent at a rehabilitation facility. We got a firsthand look at the Cuban healthcare system,” Drillings says. “It was an excellent experience, and one that gave us great appreciation for the country and for their healthcare system.”

WHAT GRADUATES DO

Already, Drillings says, he’s assumed more leadership roles at his hospital, and plans to take on even more in the future. “The vast majority of the physicians in our group want to stay in the healthcare field, but pursue more of a leadership role in healthcare,” he says.

Cox agrees that most participants will stay in healthcare and move into more senior positions. “But we also had a couple of graduates who took jobs at pharmaceutical biotech companies, and some who moved over to large health insurance companies, and even some who are interested in entrepreneurship,” he says.

“It’s all over the map, and this program widens their options.”

DON’T MISS THE COST OF BEING A SINGLE FEMALE IN B-SCHOOL OR WHERE THE HEALTHCARE INDUSTRY GETS ITS MBAs